By China DeSpain Freeman, Ecorazzi
Thanks to the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove,” animal activists around the world are intimately familiar with the Japanese town of Taiji.
Each year, the cove off Taiji’s coast is home to mass dolphin capture and slaughter. Some of the marine mammals are sold to parks around the world, while others are stabbed for their meat, turning an otherwise beautiful cove into a sea of blood.
Activists regularly protest the slaughter, and last year Sea Shepherd sent in vessels to fight the hunt. Despite their efforts, 928 dolphins were captured in Taiji in 2011 alone. Now, in an extremely weird and horrible twist, Taiji is utilizing dolphins in a whole new way: as a tourist attraction.
According to the Mother Nature Network, “The town intends to section off part of the cove and turn it into a place where people can swim and kayak alongside small whales and dolphins…calling it ‘a marine safari park.’”
The plan is to open the “whale park” within five years in a 69-acre stretch of Moriura bay. According to MNN, captured black whales and bottlenose dolphins would be released into the “park,” which would also feature beaches and mudflats.
But the addition of a marine park doesn’t mean the annual slaughter will end. An inside source says that Taiji is “in no way going to stop” the annual hunt, and that residents have no problem enjoying dolphins as both entertainment and food.
Of course, that’s not the official party line.
“We want to send out the message that the town is living together with whales,” says Taiji Mayor Kazutaka Sangen.
Yeah, well, this isn’t the way to do it. Now activists will simply have two reasons to protest this town’s horrific mistreatment of aquatic wildlife. Want to get involved? “The Cove” has a “Take Part” page just for that. Check it out.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Berthold Werner