Tortured Risso’s Slaughtered
By Tim Burns
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project
2/8/2012: Today, 28-33 Risso’s dolphins were slaughtered under the cover of tarps in Taiji, Japan. The bodies were dragged out of the Cove hidden under tarps, heading to the Fisherman’s Union building where the dolphin hunters sort them, ultimately to end up at one of the butcher shops to be cut up and packaged. Two other sad Risso’s will be performing tricks for food until their greatly-shortened lives end.
This morning the Taiji dolphin hunters found two separate pods of Risso’s early. The pods broke up and rejoined several times. Once in the Cove, the fishermen seemed to take a break, as it was about an hour before some of them returned in skiffs with dolphin trainers from aquariums, who get to decide which dolphins live and die.
Last year, I had a brief encounter with a local dolphin trainer, who explained to me how much she loved the dolphins and would never want to see one hurt. She could not understand how anyone eats one and understood the effects of mercury poisoning. The very next day, I witnessed this same trainer entering the Cove in a skiff and documented that she was under the tarps as the dolphins were sorted and killed. Some they keep, and some they slaughter. It was heartbreaking to witness the very people taking care of them in captivity are the ones watching them being slaughtered, day after day, and are fully aware of the harm the meat is bringing the unsuspecting people of Japan. Captivity truly kills!
Today’s slaughter was no different as the trainers disappeared under the tarps; the dolphin hunters began slaughtering the Risso’s. Because of their large size, it is done in waves. One group is pushed under the tarps, while the others become frantic from the noise and sight of their family being slaughtered. Then the next group is pushed up on the beach beside their suffering pod members under the tarps. This is repeated over and over again until they are all gone.
I’d give anything to say this is the last slaughter I will ever have to witness. Sadly we will return to the Cove tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that, and everyday until it ends.
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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$.
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