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We need whale poo 📷 WDC NA

Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...
Humpback whale underwater

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Black Sea common dolphins © Elena Gladilina

The dolphin and porpoise casualties of the war in Ukraine

Rare, threatened subspecies of dolphins and porpoises live in the Black Sea along Ukraine's coast....
WDC's Ed Fox, Chris Butler-Stroud and Carla Boreham take a message from the ocean to parliament

Taking a message from the ocean to parliament

It's a sad fact that whales and dolphins don't vote in human elections, but I...
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Tokitae in captivity

Talking to TUI – will they stop supporting whale and dolphin captivity?

Last Thursday I travelled to Berlin for a long-anticipated meeting with TUI senior executives. I...

Earth Day Q&A with Waipapa Bay Wines’ marketing director, Fran Draper

We've been partnered with Waipapa Bay Wines since 2019 so for this year's Earth Day,...

Working to Save Dolphins in Despair

A female and her calf being carried back to sea on the Cape photo: Reuters

While many try to understand and improve the outcome of recent dolphin strandings on Cape Cod – half a world away free swimming dolphins are being brutally slaughtered on a regular basis. We are sad to report that the annual dolphin drive hunts in Taiji continue unabated.  Dolphin drive hunts are an accepted practice in Taiji, Japan – the village featured in the Academy Award Winning Documentary The Cove.  There, these magnificent animals are slaughtered for meat or kept alive for sale to marine parks and aquaria across the globe. The dolphin species primarily hunted in Taiji include: bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales, false killer whales, Risso’s dolphins and striped dolphins.

We operate in the face of disturbing contrasts when it comes to our treatment of dolphins – as fervent work is being done to help stranded dolphins return to the sea in the US, dolphins in Japan and elsewhere are being harassed, corralled and essentially forced to strand before they are brutally slaughtered.

While we receive alerts of dolphins near shore in Cape Cod Bay – rescuers work to prevent strandings; however, dolphin alerts in Taiji are handled very differently. In Taiji, the alert of dolphin pods often results in fishermen driving the dolphins into the cove and then closing it off with nets to prevent their escape.  Another very stark contradiction is when stranded dolphins on Cape Cod cannot be returned to the sea, they are humanely euthanized.  In Taiji, dolphins are killed by driving a metal rod into their neck.  The small percent of dolphins in the cove that are spared from slaughter are ripped from their families and condemned to a life in captivity or swim-with programs.

January marks the mid-point of the annual hunt season: September through April.  The government-issued quota from Japan for this season in Taiji is 2,165 dolphins (mixed species).  During the 2010-2011 season, over 1,200 dolphins were killed and observers on the ground indicated that at least 150 dolphins were taken alive for aquaria.  Also, according to Wakayama authorities, 68 short-finned pilot whales were also slaughtered for meat and 6 were captured alive for aquariums during an extended hunting period which lasted until June.

WDCS works diligently to support global initiatives and efforts within Japan to seek out and support an end to drive hunts. Currently there are no signs from the authorities that the hunts will cease anytime soon.  However, in the near future, WDCS will publish a report on the cruelty and suffering associated with the killing methods currently utilized in the drive hunts.

Despite the controversial nature of the hunt, the international criticism, and the health risks that the often polluted meat can cause, thousands of dolphins are caught in drive hunts each year. While we are proud to work with stranding networks in the US to save dolphins, the dolphin drive hunts are a reminder that we have a very long way to go towards securing a safe future for all cetaceans. If you care to support our stranding response efforts and our work to end drive hunts and captivity you can make a gift now. You can also learn more about these issues on our captivity page and whaling page.

About George Berry

George is a member of WDC's Communications team and website coordinator.