Save The Dolphins

On Thursday, October 14th, Silas and I attended International Save Japan Dolphins Day. It was set up to be a peaceful protest in front of Japanese embassies and consulates around the world in order to get the truth out about the dolphin slaughter going on in Taiji, Japan. After watching the documentary, The Cove, I thought it was the least that we could do for the dolphins.

It was a somewhat cold day, in the mid-30’s, which I guess is more of a heatwave for this time of year in Alaska. I strapped Silas up in our Ergo carrier and headed out to the Japanese embassy in Anchorage. When I got there, there were signs already made for us to hold and there was about 5 other people there with us. Not a huge turnout, but I think we made an impact, nonetheless. We got a few honks, which was a few more than I was expecting. The signs said things like “stop the slaughter” and “dolphins save, why can’t you?”

There was nothing too crazy about it. We were asked to move at one point and someone from the Japanese embassy came down at one point to talk to the woman in charge of the protest, but nothing extreme. It was a good feeling to stand up for a cause that I really believe in, and to have Silas involved as well (whether he actually wanted to be is up for debate. We left about a half hour early when he began to push and shove away from me).

That's me and Silas getting the word out. This was the only picture featured in a tiny article in the local news.

Dolphin slaughter, whale hunting, seal clubbing. All of those things I have no tolerance for. I’ve always been pretty interested in animal rights. I’ve always loved having animals around and was a vegetarian for eight years (I can’t even begin to explain why I stopped. It just kinda happened and I’m ok with that). I’ve always been fascinated by sea creatures, like whales and dolphins. I’m sure my parents could go on and on about our trips up to Maine in which I would take about 20 blurry pictures of the same seal that I found so amazing.

I’ll admit I was naive for a while about the murders going on at sea. When I was in Norway with Semester at Sea a few summers ago, I’m even ashamed to admit that I tried whale at the local fish market in Bergen. I can’t even tell you what kind of whale it was. I just thought it’d be interesting and a bit of a bragging right back home to tell everyone that I actually ate part of a whale.

After watching the Cove and various episodes of Whale Wars (I do not claim that I’m a fan of all of their tactics, nor do I really like the egocentric captain, Paul Watson), I realized what a horrible thing I had done. That one little piece of whale that I ate is continuing to ruin the possibility of stopping whale hunting. As long as people keep buying cetacean meat, as long as there’s a market for it, people will keep going out there to hunt these beautiful, peaceful creatures.

If you haven’t watched The Cove as many times as I, let me fill you in on what’s going on. There’s a little coastal fishing town in Southern Japan. It’s considered to be the birthplace of traditional whaling in Japan and has recently come under fire for their yearly dolphin slaughter practices that take place in a little cove by the sea. It seems like a seemingly beautiful place, until you learn what’s actually going on in that little picturesque area of the world.

I won’t go into too much detail. If you want detail (which I encourage you to want), watch The Cove or head over to SaveJapanDolphins.org, where you can find tons of information about the dolphin hunts and what you can do to help stop this horrible practice. Here’s the brief overview:

The Japanese government allows for 23,000 permits a year to kill dolphin, even though the meat is highly tainted with mercury. In Taiji, they use sound under the water to mess with the dolphins’ sonar and drive them into a small cove. They then allow aquariums and amusement parks to pick out the dolphins that they want (usually females who most resemble Flipper). After everyone goes home and no one is watching the next morning, they brutally murder the rest of the dolphins in the cove for their meat. The fishing industry in Japan claims that this is “pest control,” stating that dolphins and whales eat too much fish… Have you seen the fish markets around Japan and elsewhere around the world? I highly doubt that cetaceans are causing the fish market to collapse.

Images from the slaughter, courtesy of SaveJapanDolphins.org

I’m not usually one to judge. I understand that different cultures have different practices. I am an anthropology major and I’ve read and seen some crazy things. I could argue that “dolphins are so cute. Why would anyone want to harm them?”, but then I’d be somewhat of a hypocrite. After all, US citizens maim and eat cows, pigs and chickens in a not so always wonderful way. What’s really different about it?

The difference is that not only are the fishermen who kill these dolphins harming dolphins, they’re harming themselves and those around them. Dolphin meat, as well as whale and other big fish and mammal meat, is contaminated with high levels of methyl mercury that exceed the “healthy” amount set by Japan’s Ministry of Health. For a while, they were even handing out poisoned dolphin meat to schools, in order to help the whaling cause. Giving mercury to developing children? Not such a wonderful idea, Japanese government.

Dolphins are dying, people are possibly getting sick, the world’s “sustainable” fish stock is facing an end. It’s time to make a difference. I urge everyone that reads this to educate yourself about the issues presented in this post and to do something. Donate your time or money. Write a letter to those in charge, asking them to help put an end to this practice. Most importantly, don’t go to dolphinariums. Not only should dolphins not be in captivity, where they are basically tortured with sound and limited space, but this captivity helps aid in the dolphin hunts that take place every year in Japan. Do your part to make sure that we do all that we can to save this earth for future generations, before it’s too late.

I’ll leave you with this and this. Warning! Graphic content ahead.

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4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Errign said,

    Hi Meg!

    Welcome to the blog world, even though you’ve been doing it for a bit now.

    I’ve read a lot about The Cove, but I have to admit, I just can’t bring myself to watch it. It really is horrible, the lengths governments go, ours included, to do illegal and immoral things just to keep the cash flowin’.

    Hope all is well with you, Nick & Silas,
    Errign

    • 2

      Hey!

      Now that I’m finally getting back to you… Thanks! I was actually inspired to start up again because of your blog. It’s very nice πŸ™‚ As for The Cove, it took me a while to watch it as well. Who wants to watch a movie about dolphins getting killed? But it’s actually very interesting! Not only does it educate people about the dolphin slaughter, but it also talks about mercury poisoning and the current state of our oceans. Kinda depressing, but needs to be learned! I would recommend it. At least watch the majority of it and just skip the very end. That’s the gruesome part.

      It definitely does suck that so many governments allow horrible things to happen. I’ve been especially sad about this lately while trying to learn about the local politicians of Alaska. Most of them are horrible. They just want to make a few bucks and are willing to completely ruin the environment to do so. Definitely upsetting.

      Everything is going well over here. Hope things are wonderful for you πŸ™‚

  2. 3

    Andrew said,

    Yeah, ever since you showed me The Cove it’s been a topic I bring up a lot. Some people don’t appreciate it, but I say fuck them, it’s happening and it’s GOT TO STOP.

    I’m reblogging this if that’s okay! Sharing with my livejournal friends :]

    • 4

      Very true! It has to end, and I don’t think it will without continued coverage. More people have to know that this is going on. I know it’s taken me forever and a day to reply to your comment, but I enjoyed your post and I really appreciate that you helped spread the word πŸ™‚ Love ya!


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