The Annual Dolphin-Killing Season at the Cove Has Begun
Eleven days following the start of Japan’s annual dolphin-hunting season, the first pack of Risso’s dolphins were captured and slaughtered along the cove at Taiji, Japan, last week.
Ric O’Barry, founder of the Dolphin Project and subject of the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary The Cove, and his team of cove monitors filmed the capture from the shore as fishers drove a pod of 12 into the mouth of the cove.
Surrounded by seven fishing boats, the panic-stricken dolphins fled toward the beach in an attempt to escape. O’Barry saw one dolphin thrash and bang its head against the rocks, suffering from the shock of being captured.
“The violence comes from the drive itself,” said O’Barry in a statement. “The drives are so stressful on dolphins that pregnant females in the process of a drive can abort their calves, and young ones can’t always keep up the fast pace.”
O’Barry resisted the urge to jump into the water as the female dolphin beached a few feet from where he stood. The 75-year-old, who was arrested in late August for not presenting his passport to Japanese officials, said in the video that jumping in would guarantee arrest and possible deportation.
“Had we jumped in, we’d have been arrested immediately for conspiracy to disrupt commerce,” he said. “Our video, computers, cameras—everything would have been confiscated.”
The video is part of Dolphin Project’s efforts to end the exploitation and slaughter of hundreds of dolphins at Taiji each year. In this year alone, it’s estimated that a total of 1,873 marine animals will be captured and killed from Sept. 1 to March 1.