Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Japan’s dolphin slaughter revealed

Gary Adshead

The screeching sound of the dolphins as they were being lassoed and stabbed to death by their human executioners is something I will never forget.

Photographer Steve Ferrier and I had been shielded behind bushes atop a cliff since 4am to capture one of the most barbaric crimes against nature happening in the world today.

Sanctioned by the Japanese government, 2300 dolphins are herded every year from their ocean home by teams of fishermen with fast boats.

Exhausted and terrified the pods are held overnight in a netted bay before being corralled at first light the next day into an infamous “killing cove”.

In the space of 15 minutes we witnessed up to a dozen Risso’s dolphins being slaughtered. The emerald cove, which forms part of a national park, turned crimson red as the dolphins’ blood drained into the sea.

The town where this happens during a six month period is called Taiji – the sister town of WA’s own coastal resort town of Broome.

The cruelty we saw is made all the more macabre by the fact that Taiji gives the impression of loving dolphins as part of its tourism trade.

There is a Dolphin Resort Hotel, daily dolphin performances at the town’s whale museum and one of the first statues you see when you enter the town six hours south of Tokyo is that of a smiling striped dolphin.

Taiji town officials and fishermen’s union won’t surrender to mounting international pressure and the Japanese government says it won’t interfere.

The argument of tradition and culture is used as a defence, but evidence of high mercury levels in the dolphins is finally shrinking the meat market exploited by the fishermen.

Click here to see Steve Ferrier’s soundslide from Taiji

Warning: This soundslide contains images which some viewers may find disturbing

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