DawnWatch: Dolphin slaughter on front page of Japan Times — 11/1/06

November 2nd, 2006 5:05 pm by Kelly Garbato

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Nov 2, 2006 3:53 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Dolphin slaughter on front page of Japan Times — 11/1/06

On Wednesday, November 1, Japan’s annual dolphin slaughter was covered on the Japan Times front page in an article, by Boyd Harnell, headed, “Dolphin kill dogged by mercury, activists.”

Since Westerners generally don’t eat dolphin meat, there has been a tendency to write-off the horror as something over which we have little control. But the opening line of the article lets us know how we support the kill:

“Nearly every day since the first week in September, fishermen have been driving pods of dolphins into quiet coves near the village of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, to kill them for their meat, whatever the mercury content, or sell them to marine parks.”

Though most of the animals are killed for their meat, they bring about $600 each while animals sold to the entertainment industry bring about $20,000, so the entertainment side business supports, even drives, the hunt. Ex-flipper trainer Ric O’Barry has described seeing American representatives of marine theme parks standing in the midst of the slaughter pointing to the best looking young animals they wish to purchase live.

As for the meat sales, the article tells us:

“Dolphin meat, however, contains dangerously high levels of mercury. The results of a study posted in 2003 on the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s Web site shows 6.6 micrograms of methyl mercury — a highly toxic form of mercury — per gram of meat in bottlenose dolphins. That level is 22 times greater than the government’s provisional permitted concentration of 0.3 micrograms per gram of meat. Samples taken from other species of dolphin and whale meat also exceeded that level.”

Yet the hunt continues, and is described the he article:

“At one hunting site last week in Taiji, activists watched as boats pursued several pods of bottlenose dolphins, slowly moving their crafts closer together, while crewmen banged poles against their boats to confuse the encircled dolphins.

“Once herded into a holding cove and closed in with large nets, the dolphins swam in circles to protect the females and any young able to keep up. The young separated from the group were left to die of starvation or to be eaten by sharks.

“The animals were left for one night in the cove so the stress-related hormones leave their bodies, making their meat more tender, and skiffs and longboats arrived at daybreak and herded the dolphins into an adjacent cove. There, a few were taken out to be sold to aquariums.

“Then the longboat crews began to kill the dolphins. They cut the throats of the remaining dolphins or stabbed them randomly, a method animal rights activists call barbaric. Experts, including a former hunter, have said random stabbing results in excruciating death that can take as long as six minutes.”

You’ll find the whole article on line at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20061101a3.html.

You can send a letter to the Japan Times about our treatment of other species at https://form.japantimes.co.jp/info/letters.html.

But why not use the information from this article for a letter to your local editor next time you see an article about, or an advertisement for, marine mammal entertainment. The US is currently not importing live dolphins, but many of the marine mammals currently on display in the US were caught in the wild. We reward the industry described above when we pay for tickets to see them. When we swim with captive dolphins while on vacation in other countries we are directly supporting the slaughter. You can make that known in your local community. Some smaller papers publish close to 100% of letters they receive.

Don’t hesitate to ask me for help if you have any trouble finding the correct email address for a letter to your editor. And I am always happy to edit letters.

I send thanks to Jeff Bryant for making sure we saw the Japan Times article.

Yours and the animals’,
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. To discontinue, go to
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