The Taiji dolphin drive hunt is based on driving dolphins and other small cetaceans into a small bay where they can be killed or captured for their meat and for sale to dolphinariums. Dolphin drive hunts exist in coastal communities around the world, and Taiji has a long connection to Japanese whaling. The 2009 documentary film “The Cove” drew international attention to the hunt. Taiji is the only town in Japan where drive hunting still takes place on a large scale.
The government quota allows over 2,000 cetaceans to be slaughtered or captured, and this hunt is one of the world’s biggest. Annually, an approximation of 22,000 small cetaceans are killed using the methodology of drive hunting, taking place in the waters of Japan. The annual dolphin hunt provides income for local residents, but has received criticism for both the cruelty of the slaughter methods and the high mercury levels of the dolphin meat.
It has been practiced in various parts of Japan as well, but Taiji is the only substantial hunt that remains. The hunts are argued to be a part of Japanese culture.
PETA’s take on it
PETA’s friends at Dolphin Project report that 740 dolphins were either killed or taken captive in this year’s(2020) annual slaughter in Taiji, Japan. For six months, fishing vessels sailed out of Taiji, hunted down pods of wild dolphins, surrounded them, and drove them back toward land and the infamous killing cove. Many more dolphins likely died in the process.
How is it actually done?
- In the cove, dolphin hunters snared the animals with nets and dragged them to shore for the selection process.
- Dolphin trainers work with them to help choose the most beautiful ones—the ones who will be sold to marine parks and “swim with dolphins” encounters.
- A metal rod is rammed down the spines of others, and they die of hemorrhaging or suffocation in full view of their friends and family members.
- Their flesh is then sold as meat.
Dolphins deserve better.
Dolphins’ brains are much larger than those of humans. (Many would argue their hearts are, too.) These brilliant animals use complex echolocation to navigate the vast ocean, and several species swim up to 60 miles a day. They have highly developed communication skills, and it’s believed that individuals respond to the sound of a signature whistle the same way humans respond to the sound of their names. Forcing these brilliant animals to live inside cages for our entertainment is moral bankruptcy.
Image Courtesy:The Dolphin Project