Imagine your entire extended family, everyone you know, being driven into a small space where you will all meet a violent and painful death, save the “lucky” few who will be sold into a life performing before audiences. Such is the destiny of all too many once wild and free dolphins that roam the Pacific Ocean waters.

Every year, from the first of September through the end of February, a large troop of Japanese fishing vessels spend their days driving wild dolphins away from the open ocean and into a small cove adjacent to the town of Taiji where they can be trapped and dealt this gruesome fate.

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Once captured, the dolphins are evaluated by trainers from marine parks, who select those they would like to keep in their tanks. The chosen few are swiftly torn from their families, who now face a torturous death that involves a large metal pin being driven into their skulls as their remaining family members watch in horror and angst.

This image captured by Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project depicts one such victim’s last moments of freedom.

 

 

The chosen few that are bound for marine parks endure scarcely a better fate. Mental distress, frustration, and health complications are regular products of captivity. No animal belongs in captivity, but for sentient beings with such impressive mental and emotional intelligence as cetaceans, it’s true hell on earth.

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The fishermen involved will tell you this is all part of a national tradition, but the truth of the matter is that these hunts didn’t commence until 1969, and commercial interests are the true motive.

It’s up to us to bring an end to these cruel dolphin hunts, and we can do so by boycotting marine captivity facilities, supporting the work of  Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project (an organization dedicated to fighting this atrocity), and sharing this post to raise awareness.

Image source: Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project /Facebook

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