Photo by cheetah100 via Flickr CC
Richard O'Barry was waiting for this, knowing that the halt on this year's dolphin hunt was too good to be true, or last very long. Eight days later than usual, but still arriving, this year's seasonal cetaceans killing has begun at Taiji with about 50 pilot whales and 100 bottlenose dolphins being driven into the cove this morning.
NEW UPDATE - Click through to get the latest info to cross the wires about the Taiji dolphin and pilot whale round up. Japan Probe informs us that the hunt began around 5:30 this morning in Japan as weather conditions improved. Fisherman located pods and drove them into the cove.
Taiji's fisherman plan to catch about 2,400 dolphins during this season, as well as pilot whales, neither of which are protected by the International Whaling Commission's ban on whaling. Upwards of 22,000 dolphins, porpoises, pilot whales and false killer whales are taken each hunting season.
Despite how heartbreaking it is to see dolphins killed like this, the kicker of this whole situation is that the meat is sold to a population of people who are for the most part completely unaware that it is laden with mercury (the dolphin meat served in Japan has as much as 5000 times more mercury than allowed by Japanese laws), and mostly unaware that it is dolphin in the first place since the dolphin meat is often labeled simply as "whale meat" in order to fetch a higher price. So not only are the fishermen killing thousands of intelligent animals in a horrific manner, they're also slowly killing people. A sad situation all around.
Luckily, awareness is growing. A significant reason why the hunt is late to start is because of the mass of media on site opening day. With all eyes watching, fishermen were hesitant to get the hunt started. And if you're feeling active today, there are five things you can do right now to help.
UPDATE: The dolphins driven into the cove yesterday have not been killed. About half are to be selected to go to aquariums and the rest released. However, sadly, the pilot whales were killed and sold as meat. Ecorazzi points us towards the latest article to hit the Associated Press that confirms this.
[A representative] said it was unclear whether the town would stop killing dolphins. He said residents wanted to avoid trouble, but did not want to cave in to activists and give up what they see as a tradition.
Ric O'Barry, 69, the star of "The Cove" and dolphin trainer for the 1960s "Flipper" TV series, welcomed the news, saying it was a sign that overseas pressure had worked and expressing hope that the town would now institute a "no-slaughter policy."
More on The Cove
World-renowned Filmmaker Louie Psihoyos Fights Dolphin Slaughter in "The Cove"
The Cove - Trying to Save 23,000 Dolphins from Slaughter
Chatting with Fisher Stevens, Producer of Film "The Cove"
Heroes Star Tries to Stop Dolphin Hunt in Japan