Save the Taiji Dolphins
Dolphins, the adorable and playful creatures of the sea, are very intelligent. Some of them even teach their young to use tools. Last May 2005, an Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin was found teaching its young to cover its snout with sponges – to protect itself while foraging. Like us, humans, dolphins are mammals. They are carnivores, feeding mostly on fish and squid.
Dolphins occasionally leap above the water surface, performing acrobatic figures and sometimes playfully interacting with swimmers. Their friendly appearance and playful nature has made them popular in human culture. Dolphins can now be viewed in a number of aquarium facilities and tanks around the world. We take so much pleasure in seeing them in flesh and watching them perform stunts and do tricks. Do we even think and bother to ask how they got there? For most, the answer is a big NO. We are too overwhelmed by their intelligence and beauty that we fail to understand their situation. In Japan, some 23,000 dolphins and porpoises are either slaughtered for food or captured alive and sold to aquariums. Meat from a single dolphin amounts to $500 while marine parks offer $150,000 for a captured dolphin. It may be fun for us to watch them in tanks but is it fun for them? NO, it is not. Some dolphins in captivity even do commit suicide.
In the small fishing village of Taiji, Japan, pods of dolphins are chased and driven into a hidden cove. Once trapped inside the cove, their throats are slashed with knives and stabbed with spears. This brutal massacre turns the water red and fills the air with screams. This goes on for six months every year. Yes, it is true that they hunt them for food and that they sell them for good money. The first few false killer whales of Ocean Adventure are actually from the Taiji killing coves. The real reason though for this sad tradition is that they treat dolphins as pests that have to be eradicated in huge numbers. They don’t kill dolphins for their meat. They kill dolphins as a form of pest control. They see dolphins as competition for food. Perhaps also to address their food issues, the Japanese government recently introduced pilot whale (large members of the dolphin family) meat to children’s school lunch programs despite the fact that the meat is contaminated with methyl mercury (MeHg). Taiji residents tested high for mercury, averaging 11.0 ppm for men and 6.63 ppm for women. On a continuing research, 43 out of 182 surveyed tested above 50 ppm MeHg. MeHg causes irreversible central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) damage. Locals of Taiji reject the idea that they are slowly poisoning themselves. Mortality rate in Taiji is about 50 percent more than that of the other villages in Japan with roughly the same population.
Let’s help save the Taiji dolphins and the Taiji locals, too.
Why do we have to help?
Some species of dolphins had been hunted to the precipice of extinction. We have to help because Pantropical Spotted Dolphins are also being hunted in the Philippines. Sadly, our country is also a hunting hotspot. Let’s help save the Taiji dolphins and hopefully in the process, convince our countrymen to stop the ongoing dolphin hunt.
How can we help?
We can read more about the wrongful slaughter of Taiji dolphins and help educate others. We can support environmental activist whaleboy A.G. Saño’s silent protest and help paint twenty-three thousand dolphins in public places and walls, raise awareness of the sad tradition, and hopefully stop the capture and slaughter of the Taiji dolphins.
Wall paintings of dolphins graced San Pablo City last July 2010. The dolphin murals in San Pablo City: (1) at the VYP – MSC Institute of Technology Green School Campus in San Gabriel and (2) at the San Pablo National High School (Main Campus). A.G.Saño and the members of KC Buklod – SanPablo are against dolphin slaughter and dolphin capture.
Other dolphin walls may be found in Bacolod, Sarrangani, Cabuyao, Los Baños, Marikina, Quezon, Bohol, Antipolo City, Batangas etc. If you wish to help, sign in on FB and like the Dolphin loves Freedom page and express your intention to help.
Sponsor air fares and lodgings, donate paints and brushes or just come to help paint. Together, let’s help save the Taiji children and the Taiji dolphins (bulls, cows and calves), let’s help save the children of the world.
- by Veronica S. Prudente
- Kiwanis Club of Buklod-San Pablo