It’s hard to express how deeply disturbing it is to see the act of barbarism that is going on in Taji, Japan right now. I consider quite a few Japanese people as close friends and I know that they abhor this hunt, so I don’t see this as a cultural act (the hunt started in 1969) but the act of a small group of individuals who have found a way to make a lot of money very quickly while hiding under a banner of culture. Even if it was cultural this does not excuse all sins — cannibalism and slavery were once considered cultural, but as we have developed as a society we have realized these acts are unacceptable.
We still don’t fully understand the dolphin brain; we do know it is as large and as multifaceted as ours (some say more so). Dolphins live long complex lives, have intimate social groups and enjoy play and strong family bonds.
The sad reality is that at the end of the day this hunt is not sustainable; other dolphin hunts in Japan have collapsed as they have wiped out the population – this is another reason why this hunt has to stop now.
Last but not least, the sad irony is that the people who are eating this meat are poisoning themselves with mercury. For the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove” (which you should see if you have not watched it) they tested Taiji dolphin meat and found levels of mercury over 20 times higher than the Japanese government says is acceptable for human consumption. They have stopped giving dolphin meat to schoolchildren in Taiji because of the high levels of mercury. Where is this dolphin meat being sold? Is some unsuspecting family slowing poisoning themselves as in Minamata?
Alas the only group that can stop this hunt is the Japanese government so we should all take our hats off to U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and British Ambassador Tim Hitchens (and all of the other passionate voices on this topic) for shining a light on this unconscionable example of humanity’s capacity for greed and to inflict suffering on another species.
Humanity is defined as much by its inaction as its action. Lets keep this fire fueled, help spread the word on Facebook and Twitter (#tweet4taiji) and keep the pressure on the Japanese Government. Tweet your thanks and support to @CarolineKennedy, public figures like @yokoono who have spoken out, and news organizations covering the story like @CNN and @HLNTV. The Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians have an extensive action page with contact information. Never before has this situation received so much attention, this is the time to act.
(Photo above is Iain Kerr filming Atlantic spotted dolphins with the Wild Dolphin Project headed by Dr. Denise Herzing, who has also spoken out vehemently against the Taiji dolphin drives)