In 2009, The Cove, an award-winning documentary, put the spotlight on an unexpected villain. Taiji, a remote village situated on the Pacific coast of Japan, now faces international pressures to eradicate its annual dolphin drives, during which they kill approximately 20,000 dolphins.
For many centuries, Taiji has prided itself in being a prime contributor to the whaling industry. However, since the international whale ban of 1986, the fishermen turned their focus to smaller porpoises such as bottlenose dolphins. Between the months of September and March, these mammals are gathered, captured, and then killed.
The Japanese delegate of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) dignifies this activity with two reasons: dolphin meat is considered a delicacy, and their more pressing claim is that dolphins are the causative factor in the decreasing fish population, thus they are executing “pest control.”
However, regardless of their justifications, the manner in which they carry out the dolphin drives is inexcusable. The Cove exposes the cruelty that the workers have kept secret from the world and even their own nation.
The process begins with the workers creating a barrier of noise to frighten and entrap migrating dolphins into the small cove. Once the dolphins are barricaded from their oceanic home, some are chosen for captivity while the remaining portion is slaughtered. The massacre takes place in a secluded area, completely hidden from the public. If the workers believe their dolphin drives are justified, why are they actively trying to conceal their job?
Furthermore, with reference to the issue of cultural food preference, the dolphin drives are in fact producing a surplus of unusable and unwanted dolphin meat. Their meat is neither healthy, as it is filled with dangerous levels of toxic mercury, nor is it in high demand by the Japanese population.
How could dolphins, animals considered to be one of the most intelligent creatures on our planet, be submitted to such torture? Once I watched the footage of dolphins thrashing around even after being stabbed, I wondered what it means to be human when we aren’t even being humane.
In an attempt to end this brutality, an online petition is made available to you at www.takepart.com/thecove. The organization is hoping to gather two million signatures by September 1st, which is the start of yet another dolphin-hunting season.
Dolphins have been known to help us on many occasions. This is our chance to help them.