Pacific White-sided Dolphin Drive

By Tim Burns
Cove Monitor

Today’s dolphin hunt supports the notion that the captive dolphin trade drives the slaughter more than ever. 

Nine boats left the harbor this morning in search of dolphins.  Within an hour, some very odd things began to happen.  First we noticed five of the nine boats met just offshore.  Then one races at full speed back to the harbor.  As it passes we noticed there are five people on board.  The vessel left with 2 people from the harbor but is returning with 5?  Ten minutes go by, and another vessel races by us, this time with 3-4 people on board.  We watched very confused as the remaining boats got in a line and headed north.  By 8:45 it was clear, they had found a pod, a huge pod.  It was one of the largest pods I have witnessed in Taiji.  There were several hundred Pacific white-sided dolphins. 

The skiffs began coming out of the harbor with nets on board, but not towards the Cove, which was a sure sign they were going to net them offshore.  By the time they had them netted at sea, only two dolphins remained.  The fishermen did not seem to be interested in reforming and chasing the fleeing dolphins.  They were very content with the two they had in the nets.  At one point ten divers were in the water.  Finally after several hours, the two dolphins were loaded into the skiffs on their bellies and brought into the harbor pins kicking the entire way. 


It struck me odd, that this much work went into catching just two dolphins.  In the past the hunters have given up on pods of 30-40 dolphins within yards of the mouth of the Cove.  Almost as if they were annoyed that it was taking so much effort to get them into the killing Cove. Just a few weeks ago, we witnessed the hunters spend almost an hour trying to push 2 striped dolphins under the tarps, only to give up and let them go.  So why did they not just let these two go?  Why spend hours netting them, putting 10 divers into the water?  They had nine banger boats and 4 skiffs running in and out of the harbor.  This was a huge operation for just two dolphins. 

Well, it’s all about the captive trade industry.  These dolphin hunters are not making a living selling dolphin meat traditionally caught; they are earning a living selling live dolphins. 

You see, it really is pretty simple. They must use the argument that hunting dolphins for food is their tradition, and, since they have dolphins here already, they will just sell a few for captivity.  Selling live dolphins is not any tradition, so the argument is made that hunting and eating is.  If you remove the live dolphin trade from the equation, you will likely end the hunt.  There is no money in eating dolphins, and there is no tradition in selling them, so to be able to sell live dolphins, they have to keep the people of Japan interested in eating dolphin meat.  

So sad that these 30 or so men can swindle their own countrymen into eating toxic meat, so they can thrive financially by selling the souls of these dolphins to the highest bidder.  

Don’t buy a ticket, and these hunters go back to being Bonita/tuna fishermen, which is a very long and noble (and true) tradition in Japan. 


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About Ric O'Barry

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Ric O’Barry, Dolphin Project Founder & Director has worked on both sides of the captive dolphin issue, making him an invaluable asset in the efforts to end exploitation. He worked for 10 years within the dolphin captivity industry, and has spent the past 40 working against it.

In the 1960s, O’Barry was employed by the Miami Seaquarium, where he captured and trained dolphins, including the five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV-series of the same name. He also trained Hugo, the first orca kept in captivity east of the Mississippi. When Kathy, the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms, O’Barry realized that capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong.

From that moment on, O’Barry knew what he must do with his life. On the first Earth Day, 1970, he launched a searing campaign against the multi-billion dollar dolphin captivity industry and has been going at it ever since.

Over the past 40 years, Ric O’Barry has rescued and rehabilitated dolphins in many countries around the world, including Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, the Bahamas Islands and the United States. He is a leading voice in the fight to end brutal dolphin hunts in Japan, the Solomon Islands, the Faroe Islands, and wherever else they occur.

O’Barry has been recognized by many national and international entities for his dedicated efforts, such as being voted Huffington Post’s 2010 Most Influential Green Game Changer, and being listed on O Magazine’s 2010 Power List – Men We Admire for his “Power of Passion.” O’Barry received an Environmental Achievement Award, presented by the United States Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program. He has done countless interviews with such prestigious news programs as Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper 360, the Mike Huckabee Show, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

His book Behind the Dolphin Smile was published in 1989; a second book, To Free A Dolphin was published in September 2000. Both of them are about his work and dedication. He is the star of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove and the Animal Planet television series Blood Dolphin$.

Author: Ric O'Barry


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