Friday, May 12, 2006

Hunting of dolphins is on the rise

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) claims the cruel practice of dolphin drive hunts in Japan is being fuelled by an increased demand for dolphins in aquaria. The WDCS reports that younger members of pods rounded up out a sea and driven into shore are being picked out by aquarium staff and 'hauled away' to be put in captivity.

Dolphin drive hunts can take hours, and sometimes days, causing prolonged distress as the pod adults try to protect their young and themselves. Once trapped near the shore, the remaining dolphins not taken for aquaria are surrounded by nets, where they either suffocate, injury themselves in a panic to escape or are slaughtered by hunters.

WDCS said previous evidence had suggested that drive hunts were decreasing because of a drop in demand for dolphin meat and a rise in the popularity of whale and dolphin watching. However, it said high prices being offered by aquaria in Japan and other countries for the live dolphins captured had become 'the primary motivation' for the hunts to continue. 'We believe that people would not visit aquariums holding animals captured in drive hunts, if they knew the truth about the way in which the whales and dolphins came to be there,' said Cathy Williamson, anti-captivity campaigner at WDCS.

'These animals are highly intelligent, self-aware beings. During the hunts they suffer extreme fear and distress not to mention the pain of slaughter, over a prolonged period of time. Added to this is the stress of confinement in captivity, torn from their families and the life of freedom they enjoyed in the wild.'

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"