Dolphins are some of the most fascinating creatures on Earth. Their friendly face and sweet demeanor elicit smiles from all who come in contact with them. The way they jump and twirl is a captivating spectacle for anyone lucky enough to cross paths with them. And of course, there is nothing like witnessing a pod of dolphins swim beautifully in unison, clearly at peace and happy to be together in their ocean home. Unfortunately, as with many animals in today’s society, dolphins are being exploited. Marine parks and aquariums rip dolphins away from their families, train them using cruel methods like food deprivation, and then make them perform asinine tricks in front of a crowd, knowing that their happy-looking face will cover up any of the trauma they have endured behind the scenes.
As mentioned before, the way these marine parks are able to get a hold of dolphins is by hunting them. One of the most infamous dolphin hunt expeditions happens between September and March every year in Taiji, a tiny coastal fishing town in Japan. The hunters that participate in this bloody and vicious “tradition” chase terrified pods of dolphins into a narrow channel and then into a cove where they either murder the dolphins to sell as meat and then pick out the “pretty ones” so they can be transferred to marine parks and aquariums and spend the rest of their days performing or on display. Considering the hunters have to round up these animals against their will, it’s no surprise that many of the dolphins end up with injuries.
Knowing that they need these dolphins to survive long enough to make it to the marine park, hunters will employ some pretty extreme measures to remedy the injuries as much as they can and make sure that the dolphins are getting an adequate amount of food and hydration. Recently, Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, one of the organizations who has set up camp in Taiji to monitor the goings on during the hunt, captured a heartbreaking scene. The hunters were “hydrating” one of their captive dolphins by placing a tube down their throat. In the ocean, dolphins typically get hydration from the fish they eat and are able to monitor their own physiology and eat when they need to. However, when these animals are held captive they do not get this freedom and have to be hydrated and fed on whatever schedule their trainers decide on.
Sadly, this is just one of the many ways captivity completely warps life for dolphins. To say this is unnatural would be an understatement.
In order to keep the dolphins alive long enough to reach the marine parks and aquariums, hunters will also inject medication and insert pills into the dead fish that they feed to the dolphins. If you think that sounds absolutely bizarre, just wait until you see it unfold below. Sea Shepherd Society, another organization currently in Taiji was able to record the sight:
Dolphins deserve so much more than this. These marine mammals are self-aware and become stressed and irritated when confined, just like anyone else. When kept in captivity they show disheartening zoochotic behaviors such as swimming in circles repetitively, establishing pecking orders and lying motionless at the surface or on the aquarium floor for relatively long periods of time. Some captive dolphins have even ended their own lives due to their extreme distress and depression.
While a number of people have shared their opposition to this vicious hunt and industry in general, there is still work to be done to end this practice. These dolphins end up in facilities all around the world, not just in Japan so, the best way you can help dolphins in captivity is to pledge to never buy a ticket to any marine park or aquarium. and urge your friends and family to do the same. Share this article to spread awareness about the Taiji hunt and the horrific injustice being perpetrated to dolphins right now.