Has Japan's Dolphin Slaughter Been Prevented?

Media presence in Taiji seems to be keeping the dolphin killers at bay -- for now.

A few weeks ago I wrote a review of the amazing film The Cove, which used a sting operation of experts to infiltrate a secret cove in the town of Taiji, Japan to show the world an incredible horror: In Taiji thousands of dolphins are captured and many of them sold to the lucrative world market that uses captive dolphins for tourism at either aquariums or swim-with-dolphins ventures. Making indentured servants of one of the most amazing wild creatures on our planet is sure crime enough, but it gets worse. The dolphins that are not sold into captivity are slaughtered for their meat, which is sometimes sold falsely as whale meat, since dolphins have often toxic levels of mercury in their bodies.

Former dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, filmmaker Louis Psihoyos and the Oceanic Preservation Society helped bring this tragedy to the public's eye with the film The Cove and various groups including theThe Save Japan Dolphins Coalition (which consists of Earth Island Institute, Elsa Nature Conservancy of Japan, OceanCare, In Defense of Animals, Campaign Whale, and the Animal Welfare Institute) and TakePart Social Action Network of Participant Media have been involved in outreach and media to bring this to the attention of the Japanese and the rest of the world.

Today, the dolphin slaughter was set to begin in Taiji, but the tides there may have changed. Here's a dispatch from O'Barry who has just returned to Japan for the start of the killing season:

When I got off the bus at the Cove this afternoon, I was accompanied by my son Lincoln O'Barry's film crew, a crew from Associated Press, Der Spiegel (the largest magazine in Germany), and the London Independent.

No dolphins and no dolphin killers. We would not have had a story at all, except for the police who were there, waiting all day for us to appear. Nine policemen came to talk to us...


Tara Lohan is a managing editor at AlterNet.
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