Hunters Joyous as Risso’s Fight to Stay Alive

Taiji, 2/13/17: For the second day in a row, Taiji’s dolphin hunters set their sights on Risso’s dolphins. And, like yesterday, within an hour of the banger boats going out, a pod was spotted.

Dolphin Project Cove Monitors watched as the pod torpedoed through open water, desperate to evade the hunters. At one point, the dolphins seemed successful, but tragically, this was not to be. With approximately 40 Risso’s left out of a quota of 251 for the 2016/17 hunting season, they have been hit particularly hard. When our team on the ground went live on Facebook, people from across the world witnessed the sights and sounds of something Japan tries to justify as “traditional.”

This was the furthest thing from tradition we have ever documented.

Taiji, Japan, The Cove, Dolphin Hunting, Dolphin Slaughter, Risso's Dolphins

Terrified pod of Risso’s dolphins pushed into the cove, Taiji, Japan
Credit: DolphinProject.com

Taiji, Japan, The Cove, Dolphin Hunting, Dolphin Slaughter, Risso's Dolphins

Hunters become more aggressive as dolphins refuse to give up their lives, Taiji, Japan
Credit: DolphinProject.com

Despite the pod’s dire predicament, their will to live was strong, and they weren’t giving up their lives without a fight. The hunters became aggressive, driving their skiffs over individual dolphins. It was gruesome to watch as the dolphins, including juveniles, were caught underneath the boats. Yet still they fought, their beautiful bodies surfacing in the clear, shallow waters of the cove, only to be terrified again as hunters worked to maneuver them into the killing area, underneath the tarps.

The sounds were equally disturbing, as the loud drone of boat engines muffled the quiet, yet rapid breathing of the panicked dolphins. The chaos in the cove was palpable, and suddenly there was a diver in the water placing ropes on their flukes so skiffs could drag them to their inevitable demise.

Taiji, Japan, The Cove, Dolphin Hunting, Dolphin Slaughter, Risso's Dolphins

Small faces, big faces – all would be slaughtered on this day, Taiji, Japan
Credit: DolphinProject.com

Moments later, all that was left of the once-vibrant pod were the sounds of their struggling as the killing commenced. And the hunters rejoiced, laughing loudly as each life was extinguished.

The skiffs emerged soon after, the dolphins’ bodies tethered underneath more tarps. Somehow, their deaths felt amplified. Perhaps because these five, sentient Risso’s fought so hard to survive. To the dolphins, their lives had significance; held meaning – something Taiji’s hunters would do well to bethink.

WATCH: Hunters corral terrified dolphins into the shallow waters of the cove.

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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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