On September 25th 2014 a large family pod of pilot whales made the fatal mistake of swimming in the seas by the fishing village Taiji, Japan. These beautiful, sociable and intelligent cetaceans were then made to languish in the shallow waters by the infamous killing cove. The name 'killing cove' justifiably reflects the barbaric butchery which is allowed to take place there and although continually defended by the fishermen in the village as tradition, they seem desperate to hide their activities from the world. Recently they have covered their brutality under tarps so that pictures and videos cannot be distributed of how they implement death.
For forty eight hours the whales were caught up in the fishermen's nets, confused and traumatised after witnessing two of their young being snatched cruelly from them. Allowed to starve, frightened and made to battle the inclement weather in seas not deep enough to shelter, the remaining family pod awaited their inhumane fate.
Taiji with an estimated population of 3,400 is primarily known as a whaling town, and has been since the 17th century and whilst I have not written this article to attack peoples livelihoods, I have to bring to question sickening elements relating to their tradition.
My first question is regarding the unnecessary cruelty and the kidnapping of young cetaceans. Has this always played a part in the town's tradition, or has greed and profit taken over this annual hunt? And whilst it seems there is a decrease in consumers for Dolphin and Whale meat, after research shows it may contain dangerous levels of toxins including mercury, it also seems there is an increase in the numbers of Dolphins being taken from the sea for captivity. It's hardly surprising the fishermen who generally hunt from September to March can wrap up a month early when a live Dolphin can fetch around $154,000 - rather than $500 dead.
My second question is in regard to the aberrant secrecy. If there is no shame, if there is compassion and humanity then this wouldn't need to be so.
My third question is to ask why a traditional fishing village requires trainers and pens for captivity. Why trainers escort the fishermen to inspect the Dolphins after they have been traumatically lured into shallow water and hauled onto shore. Why the trainers hand pick the ones suitable for Dolphinariums and 'captive Swim with Dolphin programmes' and why genuine, caring trainers would hand back to the fishermen the remaining family pod because they are either too young, too old, or have a few blemishes knowing they will endure an excruciatingly painful slaughter.
I applaud the Oscar award winner' 'The Cove' and the highly acclaimed 'Black Fish' documentaries for raising awareness to this macabre profit making industry and I also applaud the bravery of the Dolphin Project,Cove Guardians and news reporters who report from Taiji under threat and scrutiny.
This hunt would barely survive if the market for Dolphinariums, Marine Worlds and captive 'Swim with Dolphin' programmes ceased to exist and we can all help to make this happen.
For a number of years swimming with Dolphins has been listed on my Bucket List in-between seeing the Northern Lights and travelling on The Orient Express. Sadly my ignorance failed to question how and why some of these cetaceans were in captivity up until January 2013 when I was made aware of the annual Dolphin hunt in Taiji. Swimming with Dolphins is still on my Bucket List but it will be at their discretion, in the sea, wild and free!
On the 27th September 2014 after 48 hours of hell the family pod of Pilot Whales were barbarically slaughtered in the killing cove. For some of the younger ones the night mare still wasn't over as being surplus to requirements they were clumsily driven out to sea by the fishermen. With their family destroyed, young, exhausted, stressed and starving it is hardly likely they will last more than a few days.
My one hope is through an increasing awareness the net is finally closing in on all the businesses who profit on the atrocities which take place in the Killing Cove, Taiji, Japan