Thursday, August 9, 2012

End the Hunt: The Taiji Dolphins

WARNING: There will be a few graphic images in this post, but they are only shown to help you understand why I support this cause so much.

If you've been reading this blog for more than a week, you'll know I dearly love and care for animals of all species. However, a certain Order of animals has been pressing on my heart lately, and that's Cetacea, better known as marine mammals, such as whales, dolphins and porpoises.

We've all seen the Sea World commercials, of trainers swimming with Orca's, and flipping, smiling dolphins. But sadly, the smile of a dolphin is a falsehood.

There are almost forty species of dolphin in 17 genera, and they can range in size from 4 ft and 90 lb (Maui's dolphin), up to 30 ft and 11 tons (the Orca). Dolphins are very social creatures, living in Pods, or family groups. The Pod is mostly made up of mothers and their calves, with a few males. The communication between dolphins is mostly clicks and whistles, which we understand very few of the meanings behind, but they talk to each other at all times, in constant communication, and there have been many noted cases of dolphins clicking to console each other. Being one of the most intelligent creatures on planet Earth, the dolphin has very few natural enemies, and is usually an apex predator in it's ecosystem, until humans step in that is.

Some dolphin species face an uncertain future, especially some river dolphin species such as the Amazon river dolphin, and the Ganges and Yangtze river dolphin, which are critically or seriously endangered. A 2006 survey found no individuals of the Yangtze river dolphin, which now appears to be functionally extinct. Pesticides, heavy metals, plastics, and other industrial and agricultural pollutants that do not disintegrate rapidly in the environment concentrate in predators such as dolphins. Injuries or deaths due to collisions with boats, especially their propellers, are also common. Loud underwater noises, such as those resulting from naval sonar use, live firing exercises, or certain offshore construction projects, such as wind farms, may be harmful to dolphins, increasing stress, damaging hearing, and causing decompression sickness by forcing them to surface too quickly to escape the terrifying and deafening noise.

Various fishing methods, most notably purse seine fishing for tuna and the use of drift and gill nets, unintentionally kill many dolphins. Accidental by-catch in gill nets and incidental captures in antipredator nets that protect marine fish farms are common and pose a risk for mainly local dolphin populations. Dolphin safe labels attempt to reassure consumers fish and other marine products have been caught in a dolphin-friendly way. The earliest campaigns with "Dolphin safe" labels were initiated in the 1980s with collusion between marine activists and the major tuna companies, and involved decreasing incidental dolphin kills by up to 50% by changing the type of nets used to catch tuna. The dolphins are netted only while fishermen are in pursuit of smaller tuna. Albacore are not netted this way, making albacore the only truly dolphin-safe tuna.

The most horrifying human act against dolphins though is drive hunting. In some parts of the world, such as Taiji in Japan and the Faroe Islands, dolphins are traditionally considered as food, and are killed in harpoon or drive hunts. In these hunts, dolphins are gathered and driven toward the shore using a chain of boats, once at the shore, these creatures are trapped, and either have their bodies cut open, or are harpooned to death.

Taiji Dolphin Drive

Entire pods will be wiped out every year, thousands of dolphins murdered for their mercury tainted meat and for the sake of tradition. One of the best documentaries I have seen about this horrible act is called The Cove. I will caution you, this is NOT a movie for children, and you will be shocked and in tears in the first 10 minutes. This synopsis of the movie, taken from their website, says: Academy Award® Winner for Best Documentary of 2009, THE COVE follows an elite team of activists, filmmakers and freedivers as they embark on a covert mission to penetrate a remote and hidden cove in Taiji, Japan, shining a light on a dark and deadly secret. Utilizing state-of-the-art techniques, including hidden microphones and cameras in fake rocks, the team uncovers how this small seaside village serves as a horrifying microcosm of massive ecological crimes happening worldwide. The result is a provocative mix of investigative journalism, eco-adventure and arresting imagery, adding up to an unforgettable story that has inspired audiences worldwide to action.

I for one can no longer stay silent, as I saw the aftermath of the Faroe Island Drive yesterday, and the Taiji hunt being only another 23 days away. On September 1st, thousands of dolphins will be driven into that secret cove, they will watch their families murdered, hear their terrified cries for help, and, as shown in the movie, click to each other in their last moments, trying to console each other. Even as I write this, I can't stop myself from crying just thinking about it. Some of the individuals are saved from the slaughter by trainers looking for dolphins for shows, but a life in captivity and servitude is almost no life at all for these amazing animals.

Faroe Island Drive - 8/8/2012

So, I'm going to do what I can to help end the Taiji hunt. Starting today, every plush Dolphin you buy from me, 10% of the proceeds will go to Save Japan Dolphins. Since they cost $10 plus shipping, $1 from each plush will go to help end the slaughter of Dolphins in Taiji. To buy one, please send me an e-mail at

3D Dolphin Plush 

2D Dolphin Plush

To learn more, please feel free to visit there sites:

I hope you'll join me, and help fight the slaughter!

Love and Lightning Bugs,
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