Dolphin hunt must end

BY MEGHAN WEATHERALL

Another year, another slaughter as Taiji, Japan refuses to put an end to the annual dolphin hunt.

This massacre has been going on for years and sparked the documentary The Cove. The film, created by Ric O’Barry, follows the annual gathering of fishermen who herd dolphins into an isolated cove by confusing the animal’s sonar communication. Once the dolphins are trapped, fishermen round them up into a net or cage that is secured to the side of their boat.

Female dolphins that seem to be healthy, young enough to have babies and meet the unofficial scale of being attractive are sold to zoos and aquariums. Forty per cent are sold to businesses in Japan, the rest are shipped to places like China and the Middle East. Since 2010, the number of dolphins killed is estimated to be close to 5,000. The dead dolphins are sold at a market as meat, sometimes labeled as whale meat. Approximately 750 dolphins have been sold to aquariums and zoos.

The open hunt lasts from September to March. Due to the popularity of this hunt, dolphins that call the waters of Japan their home are becoming endangered.

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums said that if Japanese dolphin sellers continue to use dolphins taken from the North Pacific Ocean off the town of Taiji, they will lose their partnership with the association.

What is happening to these dolphins is the same as when SeaWorld captured its first orca. Fisherman would use boats to force orcas inland before using rope to capture them in a makeshift net. Whales unsuitable as exhibit pieces would be sent to market to be killed. The first two whales taken from the ocean didn’t even live a full year. Wanda, the first orca taken from the wild in 1961, is believed to have committed suicide. She had only been in her enclosure for three days.

The practice of keeping whales and dolphins anywhere but the ocean must stop. Life spans are drastically lowered. Mothers and sons, and fathers and daughters, are being inbred and the animals’ health is suffering. They should not be put on display for our amusement.

Celebrities and organizations continue to urge Taiji authorities to end this brutal killing. Canadians must urge our government to add its voice to this list and to promote a ban on taking marine animals from our oceans.

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.

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