Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Scottish Dolphin Centre
  • Stop whaling
Risso's dolphin: WDC/Nicola Hodgins

Remarkable Risso’s dolphins – how we’re studying them to protect them

And just like that, another season of field research studying remarkable Risso's dolphins came to...
Dead dolphins on the beach

Faroe Islands whale and dolphin slaughter – what have we done and what are we doing?

The massacre of 1,428 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður on the Faroe Islands on 12th...
© WDC

The horror – reflecting on the massacre of 1,428 dolphins on the Faroe Islands

Like you and millions of people around the globe, I felt horrified by the news...
Bottlenose dolphins in never-ending lockdown at Loro Parque, Tenerife

The whales and dolphins trapped in never-ending lockdown – hearing their stories

Every whale and dolphin in captivity is an individual with a life history and around...
Orcalab

Surviving not living. Why we have to end lockdown for captive whales and dolphins

I first visited OrcaLab in British Columbia over 30 years ago and vividly remember my...
Shorewatchers

Our volunteer citizen scientists are making waves in Scotland

I'm lucky enough to do a job that I love. For the last seven years...
The dolphins, including a newborn, got into trouble in Stornaway Harbour - WDC/Nicola Hodgins

Success for emergency rescue after dolphins got trapped in Scottish harbour

I'm stationed for a month on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. We've...
End whale and dolphin captivity

Lockdown never ends– why TUI needs to stop supporting whale and dolphin captivity and how you can help

As Covid restrictions lift and we can move more freely, travel is just a distant...

Dolphin drive hunts – hope or despair?

The terrible tally of dolphins killed or captured alive in this season’s drive hunts in Taiji, Japan is currently 402 slaughtered, 102 taken alive and 170 released, their fate unknown. Five different species have been captured or killed: bottlenose dolphins, pantropical spotted dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, short-finned pilot whales and striped dolphins. Many more are likely to die or be live captured for sale to aquaria before the season ends. 

Despite the Oscar winning film The Cove, despite the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria (WAZA)’s decision to suspend the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquaria (JAZA) over the continued cruelty and JAZA’s decision not to allow its members to live capture from hunts, despite public outcry, despite the tireless documentation of the hunts by some very brave individuals, year after year, the hunts continue. 

Your comments on my last blog, in December, were full of despair and I sympathize, deeply. There seems to be so little we can do to stop the hunts continuing, which, at least in the case of the live captures, are now fuelled increasingly by demand for the dolphins captured in them by the growing number of theme parks and aquaria (including several being established in shopping malls) displaying them to the public in China. 

So what can we do? 

WDC has been trying to knock out one cog in the wheel of stakeholders supporting the drive hunts by encouraging cargo airlines to stop transporting wild-caught whales and dolphins and especially those captured in the drive hunts. Nearly 40 airlines have been in touch to say that they do not carry whales and dolphins and many have policies against such practice. Air India was the latest addition to our positive list. Others have not responded to our requests for information or, in some cases, continue to transport wild caught whales and dolphins. 

You can help us call on airline alliances to develop policies against the carriage of wild-caught whales and dolphins by signing our Star Alliance petition

In China, the China Cetacean Alliance is documenting the expansion of the whale and dolphin display industry in China and raising awareness about the welfare risks to whales and dolphins associated with live captures and confinement in captivity. WDC supports this kind of in-country awareness raising in both China and Japan where there is little public knowledge about the threat that captures and captivity pose to the populations targeted, such as those in Japan exploited by drive hunts and the individuals who live shortened, impoverished lives in captivity. 

Every year, peaceful protests, such as the one in the photo above taken in London, take place at Japanese embassies around the globe to highlight Japan Dolphin Day and bring together people from all walks of life to mark and protest against the continuation of these brutal, wasteful hunts. WDC supports peaceful protest. Even if it seems the protesters are not being listened to, support for films like The Cove, action taken against the hunts by WAZA and JAZA and celebrity support from Maisie Williams and others is all culminating to draw attention to the continued tragedy of the hunts and helping to bring about their end. 

As public awareness grows and stakeholder groups like airlines withdraw their support for hunts, we remain, as we should, shocked and speechless at the continuing destruction of lives in Taiji. But we must remain hopeful if we are to defeat this continuing threat to small whales and dolphins in Japanese waters and continue in our collective efforts to bring about an end to the hunts forever. 

About Cathy Williamson

Cathy Williamson had been policy manager of our End Captivity Programme until July 2021.