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Activists From 5 Continents Protest Japan’s Dolphin Hunting Season

Last season, roughly 800 dolphins lost their lives in Taiji. Will the 2012-2013 season see fewer deaths?
September 2, 2012 Updated: July 12, 2022

Save Japan Dolphins’ Ric O’Barry arrived in the town of Kii-Katsuura today, Sunday 1st September. On a sunny but windy Japanese morning, thirty-two dolphin activists from five continents, including eight Japanese nationals, took to the shores of Taiji, Japan to protest the beginning of the country’s annual dolphin slaughter. The activists, including members of Ric O’Barry’s The Dolphin Project, prayed for the dolphins that will be slaughtered during the 2012-2013 dolphin hunting season on the beach of the notorious inlet made famous in the Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove. Watch the video explaining how Oscar-winning director Louis Psihoyos and Ric O’Barry penetrated the cloak of secrecy surrounding the cove, and let the world see the dolphin slaughter up-close. And it outlines exactly how the global campaign to save the dolphins has been working:

In 2009, the world learned about the Taiji cove, a remote coastal inlet in Japan that harbored a dark, bloody secret. Every September, under the cover of darkness, fishermen in the traditional whaling village herd thousands of dolphins into the tiny cove surrounded by barbed wire. Some are sold to the multibillion-dollar dolphin entertainment industry, and others are speared to death while trapped in the cove. In the same year, Ric O’Barry and his non-profit environmental organization Earth Island Institute (EII) were sued for $450 million in Florida state court for opposing the import of live Taiji dolphins to a dolphinarium and casino, reports Save Japan Dolphins. On Saturday 1st September, surrounded by Japanese journalists and cameramen, and with at least a dozen Taiji police officers looking on from the road above, the activists sat in a circle on the rocky beach and peacefully proceeded with their planned coastal sit-in for roughly an hour. The significance of eight Japanese nationals that participated in the ceremony cannot be overstated. “We know many people in Japan who dislike the dolphin hunts and want them to stop,” wrote Mark Palmer on Save Japan Dolphins earlier in the week. He is the Associate Director for the International Marine Project at EII. “They risk the wrath of the Japanese government of the fishermen’s unions, and of some extreme nationalist groups that have seized upon the issues of whaling and dolphin hunting as ‘pro-Japanese tradition’ issues.” As depicted in the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove, Taiji fishermen lure thousands of dolphins into the shallows of the cove and separate out the ones adults deemed worthy of selling to an aquarium. The rest are harpooned and slaughtered, their mercury-poisoned meat sold in supermarkets. Local officials and fishermen vehemently defend the 50-year-old drive hunt. The dolphins killed in the cove each year are part of the country’s 20,000-dolphin quota. As expected, no dolphins were killed on Saturday—three hours after leaving port in a driving rainstorm at 7:00 AM local time, all 12 fishing boats returned to the harbor. Wise to the fact that the international spotlight would be focused on their tiny coastal village on September 1, the fishermen’s activities on the first day of the hunt were largely staged. More likely than not, they won’t kill any dolphins until next week, when the media wave will have passed.

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