People Are Important Too

Approximately 35 striped dolphins were slaughtered in the Cove on January 8, 2015. I went looking for them a few days later. After searching several supermarkets along Highway 42, I finally found the pod in the ‘A. COOP Supermarket’. It’s not a pleasant sight to see these magnificent animals reduced to small chunks of packaged meat sitting in neat little rows in a refrigerated display case.
ACoop Supermarket
Three days earlier these very same animals were complete and perfect after 65 million years of evolution. They were killed for their meat, but the annual dolphin slaughter issue is not just about dolphins — of course dolphins are important, but so are people.
We know from Japanese scientists, that dolphins and small whales are heavily contaminated by mercury. No one should be eating meat from dolphins and small whales. Yet the Japanese government, fully aware of the dangers of mercury contamination, ignores this problem and allows mercury-poisoned dolphin and whale meat to be sold in markets. As a result, Japanese consumers are exposed to this danger, but not warned.
Striped Dolphin Meat Photo: DolphinProject.net

Striped Dolphin Meat
Photo: DolphinProject.net

Mercury is the second most toxic poison in the world, second only to plutonium. Mercury attacks the brain and the nervous system, causing horrible damage to eyesight, hearing, and motor-skills, as well as interfering with memory and thought processes leading to dementia.  It further attacks fetuses in pregnant women, causing terrible life-long brain damage.
Striped Dolphin Meat receipt. 1050yen or about $9 US

Striped Dolphin Meat receipt. 1050 Yen or about $9 US

Mercury levels can be 20 to 5,000 times higher in dolphin and small whale meat than levels recommended by the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the Japanese Ministry of Health. These levels raise grave issues of poisoning for Japanese citizens who consume dolphin and whale meat tainted with mercury. In addition to mercury, other dangerous pollutants like PCBs and cadmium can be found in dolphin and small whale meat bought for food in Japanese markets.
stripped dolphin
So why are the dolphin hunters of Taiji still selling this contaminated product to unsuspecting Japanese consumers? People are important too.

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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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