|The capture pens in Taiji.|
Photo via Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians Facebook Page
Within the pages of this blog, I really do try to keep politics and my personal causes to myself, with varying degrees of success. Today's post represents an epic fail to keep that policy! :) This post may ramble a little here and there; my apologies in advance.
I'm one of those "greenie tree-huggers," for the most part. Sorry if this offends some of you, but that's the truth. I'm deeply concerned with the environment and what we're doing to destroy it, in addition to the direct damage we're doing to other species. But first, a little background:
My husband is an environmental consultant, has his masters in zoology and was about halfway through his PhD when life kicked his butt and he had to leave his PhD program. He specializes in aquatic ecology and fisheries biology. In short, he's what I call "wicked smaht!" (What he's doing with me is a mystery!) I've been lucky enough to pick up some peripheral knowledge of our ecosystems through chit-chatting with him at the end of the work day.
That's not to say that I'm an expert, by any means, but I do have the privilege of having the "why" of some of our environmental concerns explained to me by a knowledgeable person. I'm deeply alarmed by the idea that we're removing entire links of the chain which sustains life on our planet, bit by careless bit, and dumping toxins into the environment. (I mean, when your cities are so polluted that you have to televise the sunrise because it can no longer be seen, there's a serious problem!)
O.K. Get to the point, already! Sheesh!
The point is, I'm really, really upset about what's going on in Taiji, Japan, as well as in the Southern Ocean. (With respect to the folks who are my friends on Facebook and have been enduring my rants about this situation!)
Right now, the annual hunting of dolphins is going on in Taiji. This is a process of selecting dolphins to be shipped to hotels and theme parks worldwide, as well as unchecked slaughter of the ones not lucky enough to be selected. This "season" lasts for six months, from September to March. (If you've never heard about this or don't care, please take time to see the award-winning movie "The Cove." Don't watch it with small children in the room; it's far too graphic and upsetting for little kids! Educate yourself on what's happening and why it's of paramount importance for this "traditional practice" to stop.)
The ones slated for death (i.e., the ones that aren't "pretty enough," due to the wounds inflicted during harvest time) have a steel spike driven into their spines and are left to bleed out, a process which can take as long as forty minutes. (Can you imagine what a stink we'd have in this country if our cattle took forty minutes to die?) Since there are now outside witnesses, they do this under cover of canvas and tarps.
|Capture boat, with blood from injuries inflicted on the dolphins during the capture process.|
Photo via Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians.
Our Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, has expressed her concern about this practice to the Japanese government, along with Nickelback, Yoko Ono Lennon, and numerous other public figures.
Why then, do they continue the slaughter in spite of the negative attention they're receiving? Money. They say it's a main staple of their economy, and it's obvious that's the truth, as I noticed a couple of sports cars and a Mercedes in a picture that was taken of their parking lot. (Yes, that was snide, but I couldn't help myself.)
Even though they defend their actions with cries of "tradition," "It's no different than eating cattle" (blatantly untrue, as we enforce our regulations which provide protection for our domesticated livestock, and clearly there are no regulations being enforced in Taiji) and "we have to make a living!", the fact is that the animals sold as food are chock full of dangerous levels of mercury because of the industrial waste dumped into their oceans in the past, and shouldn't be sold for human consumption. (Heck, the U.S. has similar problems!) It's appalling that any government (ours included) would sanction the sale of poisoned meat to its people in the name of tradition and profit.
There's no doubt that the animals sold to hotels and theme parks worldwide are what bring in the lion's share of income for these people. It's estimated that rare dolphins, such as the little albino calf captured earlier this week has likely brought in a mid- to high-six figure price. What a shame its mother didn't survive.
|A rare, albino dolphin baby was captured with its mother. Pic via |
Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians page.
She's not the only one to die this week, either. A small pod of Pantropical Spotted dolphins was just destroyed this morning. Calves were taken from their mothers, a few adults were chosen, and the rest were slaughtered. This kind of thing has gone on since September, every single day.
O.K., I'll stop now. You get the point.
Before I get hater comments that I'm a racist and hate the Japanese, I want you to know that as a potter, I have a deep respect for the culture which created the art by which I'm inspired to continue my own work. I don't hate the Japanese. I am saddened by the callousness and cruelty I have been forced to accept as part of a culture I previously viewed as the embodiment of peace and elegance. I hate the actions of these "fishermen" and the government of Japan, not the people of Japan.
So here's what I'm asking of you. Please feel free to have a polite discussion here in the comments section. I'd love to have your feedback. Do some research on your own, and then take some time out of your busy schedule to sit down and write a polite letter to the Prime Minister of Japan and as many people on the list I provided below, written by Sea Shepherd. Suggest an alternative to killing these animals, such as ecotourism, which is by far the more sustainable solution to this inhumane mess. Write to any hotel chain (or any park) that you know has a dolphin tank or "swim with the dolphins" attraction, and tell them how you feel about the way they get their dolphins and small cetaceans. Above all, don't patronize these "attractions."
And please, blog about this. Tweet about it. Facebook it. Spread the word! After all, there's no reason Justin Bieber's arrest should get more airtime than this!
Nothing will change if you do nothing.
Links to this topic:
YouTube video by Autonymousness. *WARNING! THIS IS VERY GRAPHIC AND SHOWS FOOTAGE OF HOW THE DOLPHINS ARE KILLED!* Seriously, don't watch this in front of your kids or at work, or at all if it's going to upset you too much. (I don't support their methods, nor do I encourage anyone to support them, either.)
Dr. Drew on CNN. (Not particularly fond of a couple of these reporters, but they make some good points.)
ABC News report with Caroline Kennedy.
Sea Shepherd article chronicling Sea World's partnership with dolphin harvesters. This is the mechanics of how things get done and this crime continues.