Solomon Islands Campaign

A seafaring people, Solomon Islanders have relied on the ocean’s bounty for centuries, including its variety of dolphin species. A small number of tribes developed traditions of hunting dolphins using small boats and noise to drive them to shore. People on the island of Malaita prize certain species of dolphins for their teeth, since they are used as currency, as well as in bridal dowries. To a lesser extent, dolphin meat is also valued.

Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, however, were never sought by native hunters. Their meat is believed by natives to be poor quality and their teeth not valuable.

Dolphin jaw bones with all of the teeth removed

Dolphin jaw bones with all of the teeth removed

These dolphins are just as brutally captured from waters surrounding the Solomon Islands as the dolphins hunted for meat. The capture process involves fishermen locating wild pods and then the cature of individual dolphins using boats and nets.

Methods involve the extreme harassment of groups, where the impact of the captures extends well beyond the individuals targeted and removed from the water. The fate of the remainding dolphins – those who survived the chase, capture and confinement – is unknown, as access to the sea pens, even for locals is strictly controlled.

 

Ric O'Barry meeting the dolphin priest in the dolphin temple.

Ric O’Barry meeting the dolphin priest in the dolphin temple.

 

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