By: Adrien Ravindran and Vishurdeey Sivakumar
© Reuters Staff / Reuters | Credit: REUTERS
Much of the world is ignorant towards the countless animal massacres committed by humans. Some people may think we refer to forest logging or ocean pollution. However, it’s much more complex than that. Additionally, the majority of these massacres are deliberate, they are meant to create havoc in the natural environment solely for profit. One ongoing, disturbing, & gruesome massacre is occuring in the small coastal fishing village of Taiji, Japan. Dolphins and whales are the targets of this selective slaughter (Daly, 2021). The innocent mammals that naturally regulate the Pacific food chain are being led to Taiji Cove each season from September to February ("Taiji Dolphin Drive Hunt - Wikipedia"). The result is cove water dyed in deep, rich, dark red .
Dolphin hunting in Taiji, Japan is not a recent practice. The earliest recorded coastal whale hunts in Taiji can be traced back to the early 1600’s. (The Guardian, 2017) Japan’s long history with dolphin hunting establishes it as a cultural practice, tracing it back to ancestors who used to hunt, as they were unable to grow rice or vegetables. Currently, the dolphin hunt is operated by the Isana Fishermen’s Association. As of now, the association has captured more than 1,849 dolphins from nine different species, all under the permission of the Japanese government. As opposed to the cultural standard of hunting and killing dolphins, hunters may also pawn dolphins to marine parks and dolphinariums within Japan and China. (National Geographic, 2021)
Helping to subside or prevent the massacre
There aren’t a lot of things that can be done to prevent the massacre, as the Taiji government, dolphin suppliers, and receivers refuse to comment about any of their actions and reasons to National Geographic and other organizations. In contrast, the majority of Japanese citizens peacefully protest against the Taiji dolphin massacre (Daly, 2021). However, the municipal government of Taiji has full authority to decide whether to continue the dolphin massacre or not (Daly, 2021). There are many simple actions one can do to decrease the severity of this crisis, and hopefully eliminate it. You can avoid going to marine parks which hold captive whales and dolphins, like Marineland, as they would most likely commit animal cruelty (O'Barry, 2021). Furthermore, you can take action by signing petitions, as well as donating to and supporting the Dolphin Project. Moreover, if these actions seem difficult to do, spreading awareness can inform more people to do something about the cause!
Economic benefits for less dolphins in Japan
Aside from the cultural significance Taiji associates with dolphin hunting, Japan’s economy falls short of increase. The Oscar award winning documentary “The Cove” reveals how the fishermen of Taiji eliminate copious amounts of whales and dolphins. Despite the regular massacres, there is hardly any demand for dolphin meat in seafood markets. By continuously hunting for products low in demand, Japan misses out on the opportunity to flourish in the food trade (National Geographic, 2021) . In addition, thanks to documentaries like “the Cove”, consumers are less motivated to purchase dolphin and whale meat, knowing of its unnecessarily cruel nature (Walters, 2010). As consumers rightfully shy away from the violent practices of dolphin hunting, Japan’s seafood businesses continue to suffer, eventually leading to economic depletion.
The environmental damages for less dolphins in Japan
Dolphins are important organisms in much of the world's marine ecosystems as they are apex-predators in the natural food chain, which means that if we don’t take humans into consideration, no creature kills dolphins ("How Are Dolphins Important To The Ecosystem?, 2022"). Dolphins are an essential component to controlling the local fish and squid populations for which they reside alongside ("How Are Dolphins Important To The Ecosystem?"). Dolphins also prey on ill, sick, and damaged fish, as their immune systems are strong, which allows them to eat the fish safely while also ensuring that healthy fish populations continue to flourish (Revermann, 2022). This concludes that the murder of dolphins in Japan may in fact increase the consumption of intoxicated and diseased fish in the Pacific seafood market and other seafood markets worldwide (Revermann, 2022). If a predator is absent from the food chain, the species below them will overpopulate and die out, and can take a very long time to recover if they don’t. It’s crucial that dolphins continue to exist in their habitats to sustain and control the food web they coexist within, and we find a way to practice sustainable and responsible fishing globally.
As we continue to take nature for granted, we only continue to suffer. The massacres of dolphins and whales within Taiji, Japan may be of cultural significance but they only continue to contribute to our already growing economic and climate crises. From blood dyed coves to dolphin meat slowly losing its appeal to local consumers, there are many indications to Japan and the rest of the world, as to why dolphin hunting must be stopped. Do your part and continue to educate yourself.