On January 17, hundreds of bottlenose dolphins were herded to shore in Taiji, Japan—one of many dolphin drives that take place there during dolphin hunting season, which generally runs from September through March. AWI Quarterly readers may be aware of these dolphin drives—featured in the Oscar winning documentary, The Cove—in which some animals are removed for sale to aquariums and others are brutally slaughtered for meat.
This roundup marked the largest in recent years in terms of numbers of animals. Over 40 dolphins were eventually killed or died during the chaos of capture and confinement. Fifty-two were removed for sale to dolphinariums, including an albino calf—nicknamed Angel by the international animal welfare community. The remaining animals were released to the open sea—though how many will die from the stress associated with the chase, capture and confinement, and trauma of seeing relatives removed and killed is unknown.
AWI and others publically condemned the hunt and urged international action. Media attention exploded after the US Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, made an online statement via Twitter: “Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG [US government] opposes drive hunt fisheries.” Other governments and many celebrities also publically condemned the hunt. The media attention that this single roundup drew is unprecedented for this issue. We hope it will finally help turn the tide and give some point to the pain and suffering that these dolphin victims had to endure.
If you would like to thank Ambassador Kennedy for speaking out, you can either send an email through the embassy website at japan.usembassy.gov; write her at “Ambassador Caroline Bouvier Kennedy, Unit 9800 Box 300, APO AP 96303-0300”; or post a note on Twitter @CarolineKennedy.