BREAKING: Pacific White-Sided Dolphins Captured in Taiji

Taiji, 2-19-17: We were hoping to see the banger poles removed from the boats, in anticipation of the end of Taiji’s dolphin drive season – instead, we witnessed Taiji’s hunters hit yet another payday, with the capture of the first pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins. The boats went out at 6:25 a.m. and by 7:40 a.m. Dolphin Project Cove Monitors witnessed a drive in progress. By 8:50 a.m., hunters had netted a mid-sized pod, after a larger number of dolphins were allowed to go free.

The captive selection process took place offshore. One by one, skiffs took the struggling dolphins to the harbor pens, where they were measured, checked for sex (the dolphins were rolled over, their undersides inspected), and some smeared with a white “paint-like” substance, prior to being tossed into the enclosures. There were at least two babies in the pod, and they too, were taken captive, alongside their mothers.

Divers in water inspecting wild-caught Pacific white-sided dolphins during captive selection

Divers in water inspecting wild-caught Pacific white-sided dolphins during captive selection, Taiji, Japan
Credit: DolphinProject.com

Each dolphin thrashed, resisting their captors – some more, and some less. One in particular, a smaller juvenile, appeared to have something bloody in its mouth – possibly vomit as dolphins have been observed throwing up from the stress of the drive and captive selection.” ~ Terran Vincent Baylor, Dolphin Project Cove Monitor

We continued to live stream throughout this entire process, the violence of forcibly removing a sentient being from its family and environment caught on our cameras. And, as each dolphin was carted to their tiny enclosures, Taiji’s profits rose. It is easy to see where their commitment lies: with 100 bottlenose dolphins plucked from a pod of 250+ in January, and now, 20 more dolphins available to fill concrete tanks in marine parks and dolphinariums, the payoff is great.

White "paint-like" substance smeared onto back of Pacific white-sided dolphin prior to being dumped in harbor pen, Taiji, Japan

White “paint-like” substance smeared onto back of Pacific white-sided dolphin prior to being dumped into harbor pen, Taiji, Japan
Credit: DolphinProject.com

Pacific white-sided dolphins crammed in harbor pens after captive selection, Taiji, Japan Credit: DolphinProject.com

Pacific white-sided dolphins crammed in harbor pens after captive selection, Taiji, Japan
Credit: DolphinProject.com

Mother and baby pair swim in harbor pens after being taken captive, Taiji, Japan

Mother and baby pair swim in harbor pen after being taken captive, Taiji, Japan
Credit: DolphinProject.com

The dolphin captivity issue is one of supply and demand: as demand increases for trained dolphins, whether to function as performers, interact in swim-with programs or otherwise serve to entertain, Taiji’s business of supplying dolphins to buyers throughout the world will flourish. And thus, the solution is equally simplistic: when people stop buying tickets to dolphin shows and swim-with programs, the industry will end.

Twenty Pacific white-sided dolphins, including two youngsters were dragged, thrashing, from their wild world into a new reality of fences and nets. A reality where their decision-making processes will be replaced by their need to eat, and navigate amongst a human world which dolphins have no ethical place in.

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About Cara Sands

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It might be true that we don't recall many moments from our early years. However, Cara's first memory of a dolphin had her begging her parents to ask the trainer to let the dolphin go! The problem with captivity was evident to her, even as a 4 year-old child.

A writer by trade, Cara has researched, investigated and documented dolphins suffering in captivity. From documenting dolphins incarcerated in buildings, cut-off from fresh air, sunlight and normal socialization to researching cases of animals imprisoned in solitary confinement, Cara is a dedicated dolphin welfare advocate.

It is her belief that education equals empowerment. The more information shared, the better our choices and knowledge of how to act as a positive and respectful voice for dolphins across the world.

Cara is based out of Canada and makes time whenever possible to observe dolphins in their natural environments. She is writing her first fiction novel but knowing her, the marine world will play a prominent role in her book!

"The use of animals for entertainment is nothing more than an abuse of dominance. Some of the most sentient species on the planet have been exploited to incomprehensible levels, all due to their inherent benevolence. Ironic, considering that we turn to the abused themselves for displays of humanity."
~ Cara Sands

Author: Cara Sands
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