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Op-Ed: Almost 100 pantropical spotted dolphins slaughtered in the cove

By Elizabeth Batt     Feb 27, 2012 in Environment
Taiji - Taiji's cove witnessed a bloodbath last night after 98 dolphins were driven in from the ocean and slaughtered. The massacre occurred on the tail end of the annual dolphin drive season, expected to cease Feb. 28.
Although widely acknowledged that the number of dolphins killed in Taiji's cove is down almost by half this year over the previous year, several hundred dolphins have still been slaughtered.
On Feb. 20, Hardy Jones of BlueVoice.org said a total of 615 dolphins had been slaughtered to date in Taiji. The addition of 98 pantropical spotted dolphins killed on Sunday, raises this number to over 700 dolphins killed for the 2011/12 season.
According to Jones, numbers taken off reports from the Wakayama Prefecture, show a further 160 dolphins have also been captured for captivity. Despite the imminent cessation of the drives, dolphin hunting in Japan does not stop when the drives stop. The hunt for pilot whales and large dolphins does not end until April added Jones, and "harpoon hunting, will continue year around as usual," he said.
Yesterday's capture and subsequent slaughter, marked one of the worst since the season first began.
Tim Burns, a Cove Monitor currently in Taiji with Save Japan Dolphins (SJD), described yesterday's mass killing as "awful, unbearable, heartbreaking, unfair, stupid." The pod was so large, he reported, it was split into two groups for slaughtering. The "first wave" Burns said, "was driven, pushed, and in a few instances tail roped and dragged under the tarps."
The bloody waters of the cove after a dolphin slaughter.
The bloody waters of the cove after a dolphin slaughter.
Save Japan Dolphins
Tarps are implemented in Taiji, to mask the killing of the dolphins and prevent the slaughter from being documented by activists, such as it was in The Cove movie. To get the fighting dolphins beneath them, tail ropes are used to drag the dolphins under. Burns reports that it took about 15 minutes to dispatch the first group of dolphins before the second group was forced under the tarps.
The SJD Cove Monitor said the pod had several juveniles in it, all of them killed with their mothers. In a heartbreaking moment, Burns describes the reappearance of a dolphin after it had been dragged under the tarp:
"I noticed one swim back out from under the tarp, as it was partially paralyzed. It could only swim in one direction. The hunters just allowed it to swim out in front of the tarps for about 5-10 minutes. Once there was no fight left, he was tail wrapped and pulled back under."
Pantropical spotted dolphins reach lengths of 6 to 7 feet (2 m) and weigh approximately 250 pounds (114 kg) at adulthood, said the National Marine and Fisheries Service (NMFS). These dolphins are born without spots, accumulating them as they age. Maturity occurs at around 11 years with calving intervals ranging from two and a half, to four years.
It's tough to fathom the brutality involved with dolphin drives, particularly considering recent scientists' beliefs, that dolphins and whales are sufficiently intelligent to justify the same ethical considerations as humans.
Yet they remain on the menu in Japan, even though demand for dolphin meat has lowered. Hardy Jones' recently released film, When Dolphins Cry, shows how the dolphin drives have changed and why today, they appear less about tradition, and more about profiting from the captive marine mammal industry.
Last night during the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony, as Hollywood stars walked the hallowed red carpet, the blood of 98 pantropical spotted dolphins stained the cove in Taiji, Japan. Two years ago in 2010, The Cove movie, which for many, was the first introduction to the dolphins drives, took home the Oscar for best documentary.
The movie won for a reason. Let's not forget that.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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