Today is Japan Dolphin Day and more than 16,000 people are joining 117 events all over the world to raise awareness of the annual dolphin hunting season that started on September 1st in Taiji, Japan.
Every year, thousands of dolphins are captured and slaughtered in Taiji, by a small group of fishermen. For too long, this information was kept from the Japanese public and the rest of the world. The Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove, brought the horrors to light a few years ago.
We marched from Westlake Plaza, an outdoor square in downtown Seattle, to the Japanese Consulate a few blocks away. At the consulate, we held signs for passers-by and handed out literature to raise awareness of the issue. Some people knew, others were shocked by what they learned.
Dolphin meat isn’t a profitable venture, but the fishermen in Taiji can make a killing by selling live dolphins to marine parks around the world. For every performing dolphin, 17 of his friends and family are killed. Incredibly, dolphin trainers are in the boats with fishermen, picking the best candidates for marine parks. The rest are slaughtered.
Dolphin meat, isn’t healthy or safe (it’s loaded with mercury and PCBs) but it’s distributed to children in the school lunch program anyway.
The Japanese public hadn’t been aware of these atrocities until recently. Now that they know, they’re starting to do something. Brave activists from Japan and other countries are in Taiji now, protesting the slaughter. It’s especially significant that concerned Japanese are joining the efforts. Their culture doesn’t encourage speaking one’s mind, protesting in the streets, and questioning the government. But they are, and I applaud them.
Back in Seattle, far from Taiji, we showed our support for the activists in Japan and let the Japanese government know that we do not condone this abuse of our friends of the sea.
- Save Japan Dolphins – A project by Earth Island Institute (with info on how to take action)
- The Dolphin Project – Former Flipper trainer Ric O’Barry’s site (with info on how to help)
- The Cove Movie – Eye-opening documentary about the slaughter in Taiji
- Digital Journal – Article in the news about activists in Japan