It’s absolutely devastating to me that the annual dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan still continues. And this heartbreaking video encapsulates the tragedy. It captures the final moments of a dolphin’s desperate plea for help and drives home the anguish and helplessness that the animals not only face, but the helplessness that the animal welfare advocates who witness it face as well.
Ric O’Barry, founder of The Dolphin Project and star of the 2009 documentary film “The Cove,” was in Japan to witness the first days of the Taiji dolphin hunt recently. He, and other animal advocates, are only allowed to observe the slaughter. If they try to intervene in any way they will be immediately arrested by police.
Ric noticed a family of Risso’s dolphins frantically trying to escape the hunters’ nets. One terrified dolphin swims right up to the shore to Ric’s feet, desperately trying to get away, as his family is murdered behind him.
“This is anguish,” O’Barry says in the video. “[He’s] panic-stricken on the rocks, and I am heartbroken that I can’t get in the water and help him away from … he’s tearing his skin up. This is awful.”
The young dolphin’s end comes quickly after. “That dolphin’s not going to make it,” Ric says. “He’s given up.” Moments later the exhausted dolphin sinks in the water, soon to drown or be finished off by a diver. “They’re sending over a diver,” Ric observes. “Probably with a knife to take him out.”
Shaken by what he’s witnessing Rick says, “It breaks my heart. This is so stressful. This is so difficult to witness. I almost got in the water. I almost got in the water and maybe I should have. I guess I blew it,” he says before shutting the camera off.
It seems that marine life advocates like Ric face an insurmountable obstacle in persuading the Japanese government to ban such hunts. It’s reported that upwards of 20,000 dolphins are slaughtered every year in Japan. Hundreds are killed in the Taiji hunt alone. The few dolphins that do survive and are caught are sold to marine parks and zoos all over the world for entertainment and profit.
It’s simply devastating, which is why what Ric records is so important. By helping to publicize what happens in Taiji and to dolphins like the one in the video below, maybe there can be a positive change in the future.
Please note, the video does not contain graphic images but the subject matter may be upsetting to some viewers.
Please share this story with your friends and help spread awareness about The Dolphin Project’s efforts to protect dolphins.