Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Annual dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan is inhumane!

Today, WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, renewed its call for an end to the cruel slaughter of dolphins in the annual dolphin hunts that occur in Taiji, Japan.

Normally commencing on Oct. 1, the hunts started a month early with the round-up of approximately 25 bottlenose dolphins in Taiji on Sept. 6. Six of these animals were sold to the Taiji Whale Museum. Last year, the museum exported dolphins to China and it is possible these newly-captured animals will enter international trade.

Every year, up to 2,000 dolphins are killed in these so-called "drive hunts." In these hunts, groups of dolphins are rounded up by speedboats at sea and herded into a harbor, where they are surrounded by nets and then slaughtered, or selected alive for trade in the lucrative aquarium industry. In April of this year, WDCS released its report, "Driven by Demand," detailing the involvement of aquariums in these brutal hunts.

The cruelty endured by dolphins caught in drive hunts is immense. Aboard motorized boats, drive hunt fishermen bang metal pipes over the side of their boats to disorient the animals and drive them toward shore where they are stabbed with long knives, usually just behind the blowhole or across the throat.

Some dolphins caught during Japanese drive hunts are kept alive and set aside for sale to theme parks and aquaria. The high pay off by park officials for these animals provides fishermen with motivation to continue the drives.

Dolphins are highly intelligent and socially-complex animals. Scientific studies have shown that the bottlenose dolphin, one of the main species targeted in the hunts, is capable of recognizing itself in a mirror, a trait only shared by humans and the great apes. Sentient and aware, these animals exhibit signs of great distress during their capture, round-up and subsequent slaughter.

"The methods of slaughter employed in these drive hunts constitutes nothing more than a crime against nature," said Courtney S. Vail, North American campaigns officer for WDCS. "This is a brutal practice that has no place in civilized society." WDCS will join international animal welfare and conservation groups on Sept. 20 for a "Day of Protest" against the dolphin drive hunts in Japan to occur in cities across the globe.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"