Many of us now know about the horrific dolphin slaughter that happens annually in Taiji thanks to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s undercover photo and video footage and the award-winning documentary, “The Cove.”

It’s not a “tradition”

The slaughter is considered the largest commercial dolphin hunt in the world, with 20,000 dolphins rounded up each year between September and May, reports the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS).


Many of these dolphins end up butchered for meat – a food that has been known to contain high levels of mercury and is often mislabeled as whale meat and then purchased by unsuspecting consumers.

Yet, dolphin meat is not the lucrative part of Taiji’s annual round-up — live dolphin capture is. A selection of these dolphins end up in marine parks around the world, and according to OPS, can fetch for up to $200,000.

As Sea Shepherd writes of the slaughter, “There is a direct link between the captive dolphin entertainment industry and the bloody waters of the Cove in Taiji. Supporting a live dolphin show or participating in a confined swim-with-dolphin program anywhere in the world is the same as slicing open a dolphin in Taiji. The dolphin entertainment industry drives the hunt.”

And so the hunt is not really a “tradition,” as the Japanese government claims, but rather a lucrative business based firmly on the exploitation of highly intelligent and sentient beings.


We need to connect the dots

In order to drive this connection home, Sea Shepherd has launched a video contest entitled, “From Cove to Captivity,” and seeks submissions from both amateur and student filmmakers alike.

“We think this contest is a great way to engage our supporters around the world,” said Senior Cove Guardian leader, Melissa Sehgal, in a press release. “Not everyone is able to come to Taiji but people still want to defend these imperiled dolphins. This is one way everyone can get involved.”

The contest ends on Jan. 24, 2014, and asks filmmakers to create a short video at three minutes or less in either English or Japanese that reveals “what happens to dolphins and small whales in Taiji, Japan” and how it relates to the international trade of captive dolphins.

While personal footage is welcome, as Sehgal stated, one does not have to be in Taiji to stand up for the dolphins, and so entrants can use existing footage and photos from Sea Shepherd’s website and social media channels in contest videos.


Five hundred dollars in prize money will be given to the two winning videos along with a Sea Shepherd prize pack. Runner-ups will also be awarded Sea Shepherd merchandise.

For a succinct introduction to the contest, hit “play” on the video below, then be sure to check out the complete contest rules and regulations and fill out the contest entry form if you plan to enter.


Image source: Auksinis Kardas / Flickr