Sad News, But Signs of Hope

By Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project

I just heard from our Japanese volunteer Sakura in Taiji that another 30-40 pilot whales were brutally slain in the Cove yesterday.  A large pod had been driven into the Cove a few days ago, and many are still in the Cove, waiting their turn to die.  Altogether, Sakura reports, the number of pilot whales killed was devastating.  Today (Sunday), the dolphin hunters apparently took the day off, and the pilot whales remain in the Cove, four days without any food or succor.

UPDATE: Sakura tells me that the dolphin killers did not come around on Sunday, and on Monday only about ten pilot whales were removed from the large pod in the Cove for slaughter, probably because there is not enough storage space or buyers for the pilot whale meat.  A small pod of bottlenose dolphins are also being kept in the Cove.  Some animals died and were hauled off to the butcher factory next to the Fishermen’s Union. 

TUESDAY: Sakura arrived at the Cove and was surprised to see that there were no more pilot whales or bottlenose dolphins left.  Sources in Taiji told her the rest of the animals had been released late Monday.  So, out of more than 100 pilot whales and a half-dozen or more bottlenose dolphins, about 60 or more pilot whales were killed over the past few days, with the rest being released.  It is not clear if any of the bottlenose dolphins were killed or kept for captivity, but Sakura thinks not.

“I’m so sad,” she tells me.  Sakura went to the butcher factory in town next to the Fishermen’s Union yesterday, and reports “There are so many buyers for pilot whale meat!”  She’s also checking shops in town to see if it shows up on shelves.

Sakura was one of eight Japanese nationals who joined us at the Cove this year on Sept. 1st, talking to the media in Japanese and being with their many new friends from Hong Kong, the US, South Africa, Brazil, the Philippines, Canada, Australia, and Bolivia.  They were a great group of supporters!

She has also become our first Cove Monitor from Japan.  We are so proud of her!  Having grown up in Japan, her command of the language will be very helpful to us in keeping track of things in Taiji and seeking out new friends and contacts there.

Two Japanese friends from our group will join her in a few days.

Sakura at the Cove on Sept. 1st with Ric’s Save Japan Dolphins nobori banner; in the background, two boats of Japanese Coast Guard stand watch.

I have always said that it will be the Japanese people who end the dolphin hunts, not us Westerners.  We are already seeing many Japanese voting with their pocketbooks – they are refusing to buy dolphin and whale meat contaminated with mercury, and as a result, fewer dolphins are being killed in Taiji over the past four years.

With Sakura and her friends helping us in Japan, I know the hunts will end soon!

For updates from our Cove Monitors in Taiji, #Tweet4dolphins.

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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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