By Susan Millward, Executive Director
Animal Welfare Institute
The Save Japan Dolphins Coalition is outraged by the deaths of four dolphins at the Sealanya Dolphin Park in Turkey. The dolphins were captured from the wild in Taiji, Japan in 2008 as part of a notorious annual dolphin drive hunt.
"These dolphins were captured in Taiji in the killing cove as depicted in the documentary The Cove, where they were ripped from their families," stated Ric O'Barry, Campaign Director for Save Japan Dolphins. "Their families were then butchered for meat -- the sale of the live dolphins subsidizes the killing for the fishermen. Under these conditions of extreme stress, the deaths of these dolphins in Turkey's Sealanya Dolphin Park were inevitable. Dolphins die an early death in aquarium tanks due to boredom, disease, and stress."
Their short lives in captivity were a stark contrast to their lives in the wild before they were unlucky enough to stray into the path of Taiji dolphin killers. After being spotted with their podmates, they were chased with boats and driven to shore by the fishermen using noise. In panic they were herded into a shallow bay, cut off from the ocean and their former life. These four were then handpicked for a life in captivity in far off Turkey, while their podmates were horrifically butchered for meat, fertilizer or pet food. The Taiji dolphin hunts are the cruel reality of modern day aquariums and “swim-with-dolphins” tourist programs that source from the wild. The money paid by Sealanya Dolphin park for the dolphins is a direct incentive for the Japanese fishermen to continue the hunts that result in the deaths of thousands of additional dolphins a year.
The Taiji dolphin hunts are the subject of an Oscar-nominated film The Cove which features our Coalition’s campaign director Ric O'Barry, who has spent almost half his life trying to shut down the hunts. The hunts run from September through March and in all around 1000 dolphins are killed or captured in the hunts every year. Later this year The Cove, which received a slew of audience awards during its US run, will open across Japan, and, for the first time, the Japanese public will be exposed to the truth that lies on their shores. A media blackout has prevented the story from reaching the Japanese people, who know little about the dolphin killing operation.
Susan Millward, Executive Director of the Washington DC-based Animal Welfare Institute, stated: "The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) refuses to step in and monitor their members and colleagues: The Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) who are directly involved in the Taiji dolphin captures. The Taiji Whale Museum is one of several dolphin brokers in Taiji and a member of JAZA. So long as the aquarium industry has paying customers who want to see dolphins, they will provide a market for wild-caught Taiji dolphins, and the hunts will continue."
Eight other Taiji dolphins who were captured with those who died remain at the Sealanya Dolphin Park.
The Save Japan Dolphins Coalition was formed in November 2006 to combat the killing and capture of dolphins and other small whales in Japanese waters.