The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice: Death Reigns in Taiji

Cape Cod Dolphin Rescue Is Empathy Lesson for Taiji Fishermen

On Valentine’s Eve, Cove fishermen could learn a thing or two about how to love dolphins from these cetacean rescuers in Massachusetts.

Dear Taiji Fishermen,

This is how people with compassion in their veins treat their fellow mammals.

Instead of savagely butchering dolphins for profit, like you’ve done for years in the infamous Cove, a group of hard-working, kind-hearted volunteers in Massachusetts are doing the exact opposite:rescuing beached dolphins stranded on the shores of Cape Cod.

Here is a video of the life-saving operations conducted by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

What you don’t see: harpoons puncturing their skin, spikes getting rammed down their blowholes, or shameful, death-shielding blue tarps.

Note the calming hands on the backs of the frightened dolphins to let them know the rescuers mean no harm. Note the fact that they are returning the dolphins to the open ocean, instead of killing them or capturing them so they may become corporate cash cows for dolphinariums like Sea World.

Since January 12, there have been 161 dolphin strandings. “So far, 57 dolphins have been found alive and 40 of these have been released,” wrote Katie Moore, a manager of IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue and Research team.

Not all of the dolphins have been rescued. In fact, more than 104 have sadly perished—but this was before they were ever discovered.

While scientists have yet to pinpoint the reason for the dolphins’ self-stranding—some say Cape Cod’s hooked shape confuses dolphins that swim into the bay, and they can’t find their way out—this much is true: it ain’t your death weapon of choice, the banger boat.

Ric O’Barry on Navy Dolphin Program: Deep Six It Now

In military parlance, Navy dolphins are known as ‘Advanced Biological Weapon Systems.’

A dolphin rests his head on the edge of the Shipboard Forward Deployment pool prior to receiving a snack in the well deck of the ‘USS Comstock.’ (Photo: Sandra Palumbo)

The United States Navy last week made waves by announcing it would resort to a controversial military tactic should things escalate in its Strait of Hormuz standoff with Iran: using dolphins to detect mines if the Republic blocks the only sea route out of the Persian Gulf with underwater explosives.

The cetacean activism community was outraged, as they should be. Using the second smartest mammal on the planet as pawns in a military chess match is nothing short of speciesism, “a form of prejudice against beings who are not us that is akin to racism and sexism.”


It’s also nothing new. The Navy’s program dates back to the early 1960s. Currently around 80 dolphins live at the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Facility near San Diego.

Cove star Ric O’Barry spent some time there a few years ago and weighed in this week on burgeoning controversy. In one of his more insightful posts at The Dolphin Project, O’Barry doubled down on his opposition to any form of dolphin captivity, but also burrowed further into the specifics of the Navy’s program.

Here are four key takeaways.

1) Are the dolphins only sweeping for mines, or do they moonlight in a second line of work?

Apparently, the NAVY also uses dolphins as saltwater sentinels. Writes O’Barry:

They…stop enemy divers from placing mines on our own ships.

2) How does the Navy control dolphins in the open ocean?

With something called an Anti Foraging Device (AFD). Writes O’Barry:

This is a simple strip of orange Velcro that is attached around the snout. The AFD prevents the dolphin from opening its mouth, which is necessary for the dolphin to catch fish and eat. When one is list, they send out a search team to look for the “system” using a “recall pinger,” which can be heard by the dolphin from a great distance. If the dolphin returns to the pinger and trainer, the AFD is removed and rewarded with food.

3) So dolphins obey commands from Navy handlers only to be fed?

Basically, yes. Dolphins are only dependable when they are hungry. Writes O’Barry:

The sad fact is dolphins are…controlled by food. When they are full, they do not respond. This is exactly why we had five dolphins for the Flipper TV series. When Flipper #1 had ten pounds of food and was full, I lost control, and I would bring on Flipper #2, and so on.

4) Is a life of terminal captivity and the threat of enemy fire the only beef activists have with the Navy program?

No, there are at least two more.

One: transport. Because the dolphins are based in San Diego, they are flown into combat zones, most often in over-sized cargo planes like theC-17 Globemaster III. While the Navy no doubt does its doggone best to create tanks that are as comfortable as possible, it still has to very stressful for dolphins to fly. Think about this: what would air turbulence feel like if you’ve only ever lived under the water?

Second: citizen cetacean casualties. Writes O’Barry:

Every dolphin in the area, wild or trained, is placed in harm’s way because the enemy simply kills every dolphin that they come across. One can’t really tell the difference between the friendly and the enemy dolphins. ‘Kill them all and let God sort them out’ is the plan of the day. This is done with bombs, hand grenades, and especially “ashcans,” which is an anti-submarine explosion device.

Death Reigns in Taiji: ‘They Were Listening to Their Family Die’

Since January 1, roughly six dolphins per day have been killed in the Cove.

This is the boat on which seven Risso’s dolphins would eventually be slaughtered in Taiji, Japan. (Photo: Tia Butt / Save Japan Dolphins)

After roughly a week and a half of bloodless waters, death has returned to the notorious inlet in Taiji, Japan.

These animals are self-aware, they are extremely intelligent, and they must have been completely terrified, they were witnessing and listening to their family die

SaveJapanDolphins is reporting that seven Risso’s dolphins were slaughtered today in the infamous Cove. This brings 2012’s kill count to roughly 153 dolphins, according to Put differently, that’s more than six dead cetaceans per day.

Tia Butt, a Cove Monitor for Ric O’Barry’s The Dolphin Project, describes the killings in vivid, sad detail:

The most upsetting and shocking thing was that these dolphins went through this ordeal while the rest of their family was being killed. I was listening to dolphins dying, while the others were being taken away for captivity. These animals are self-aware, they are extremely intelligent, and they must have been completely terrified witnessing and listening to their family die. They were doomed to a sea pen in Taiji, and whichever ones survive this ordeal will then be trained for a life to entertain the public.

As portrayed in the Oscar-winning film The Cove, Taiji fishermen lure dolphins into the waters of a secret inlet and weed out the ones worth selling to aquariums both in Japan and around the world. The rest are systematically harpooned and then butchered, their toxic meat sold in supermarkets.

Local officials and fishermen vehemently defend the 50-year-old drive hunt. About 1,500 to 2,000 dolphins are killed in the cove each year as part of the country’s 20,000-dolphin quota.

New Year, Same Cove Slaughter: Legacy of Blood Grows in Taiji

Ric O’Barry witnesses more senseless dolphin deaths in infamous Cove.
January 9, 2012

Ric O’Barry’s new weapon in his battle to end Taiji, Japan’s dolphin drive hunt: his iPad, from which he can live-stream reports from the infamous killing cove. (Photo: Leah Lemieux)

Rejuvenated after a two-week holiday hiatus, fishermen in Taiji, Japan, have returned to work with a vengeance.

Since January 1, between 60 and 65 dolphins have been murdered in the waters of the notorious Japanese inlet, according to numbers reported on

Cove star Ric O’Barry is currently on the ground in Taiji and witnessed Saturday’s slaughter of roughly 12 striped dolphins. Leah Lemieux, a Cove Monitor for O’Barry’s The Dolphin Project, describes the scene onSave Japan Dolphins.

Although Ric has witnessed this distressing scene so many many times before over the years, the feelings of horror never seem to dim, watching as the frightened dolphin family leap gracefully from the waves, trying desperately to outrun the merciless hunters.  We could soon see it was a pod of just over a dozen beautiful striped dolphins being inevitably pushed closer and closer into the killing Cove. Once the nets were deployed sealing them in, there was no more hope for the poor creatures.

While 2012 has gotten off to a disheartening start for those fighting to end the worst and largest dolphin drive hunt in the world, the news from the Cove is not all bad.

Part of the reason for O’Barry’s return to Taiji was to display a new weapon: live-stream reporting via a new iPad, reports The Dolphin Project.

My new iPad is hooked up to a WiFi signal , so I can send emails, video, and event do media interviews via SKYPE from the shore of the Cove itself. This will revolutionize our coverage of the dolphin hunts here in Taiji. I can be here in Taiji and talk with any reporter anywhere in the world about what is happening in real time. I can show them the Cove and its legacy of blood. I can let them hear and see the banger boats as they go about their shameful work of slaughter.

Source: Cove Watch

SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer.



~ by FSVSF Admin on 20 February, 2012.

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