Despite Criticism, Half of Japan’s Captured Dolphins Sold

Documentaries like Blackfish and The Cove have changed the way we view marine mammals – particularly dolphins and orcas – as entertainment.

The Cove was released in 2009 and won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2010. The film focuses on the process wild dolphins endure when being forced into captivity so humans can be entertained at theme parks. Featured in the film is activist Ric O’Barry, who was one of the people who captured five dolphins for the 1960s television show, “Flipper.” The experience led O’Barry to become a voice for dolphins in captivity.

Blackfish directly takes aim at SeaWorld and its captive orca, Tillikum, held in captivity since his capture off Iceland’s coast in 1983. Since his capture, Tillikum has been responsible for three deaths at the amusement park. Particularly the most notable of those was the 2010 death of trainer, Dawn Brancheau, which prompted the film’s development.

The Cove paved the way for people to start thinking differently about marine mammals as entertainment, but Blackfish really drove the issue home. Since Blackfish’s release, SeaWorld’s stock has plummeted in just two years. In 2014, sales fell by 5.6 percent and its per-share earnings fell by 3.4 percent. These numbers keep falling, too. Recently, revenue fell 2.7 percent and attendance fell 2.2 percent. Last year, Southwest Airlines ended its partnership with SeaWorld and many musicians like Willie Nelson, Heart and Barenaked Ladies have spoken out against the park and boycotted performing there.

Despite these exposés and the backlash they’ve helped fuel, half the dolphins caught in Taiji, Japan have been sold. Between 2009 and 2014, there were 760 dolphins captured and sold. China bought 216 dolphins, the Ukraine bought 36, South Korea purchased 35 and Russia took in 15. Despite the mass outcry in the United States, one dolphin was sold to the country. These dolphins were primarily purchased by zoos and aquariums across the world.

The annual Taiji dolphin hunt is cruel in every sense of the word. The dolphins are driven into shallow waters by numerous boaters. These boats create a deafening sound that frightens the animals, with hunters banging metal poles against the boats. The boaters strategically place their boats in order to corral the dolphins into these shallow waters.

The dolphin hunt is not just for zoos, aquariums and amusement parks, either. From September to March, the Wakayama government permits up to 2,000 dolphins to be hunted and captured per season. Once the dolphins are ushered into shallow waters, they are tethered and large metal rods are driven into their spinal cords by the hunters. This technique results in a slow and painful death, with the dolphins bleeding out from internal injuries or drowning in their own blood.

While Japanese zoos and aquariums have voted in May to stop buying Taiji dolphins, there are still a number of other countries that contribute to this cruelty. The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Waza), however, is currently fighting against the Taiji hunt. Earlier this year, the organization suspended its Japanese members (Jaza) and threatened expulsion if they continued to be associated with the annual hunt, which supplies 40 percent of the dolphins to its zoos and aquariums. There are currently 89 zoos and 63 aquariums that belong to Waza, which came under fire in March for its complicit stance on the dolphin hunt. Since then, the organization has worked to maintain a strong stance against the Taiji hunt, which will hopefully put a dent in the number of dolphins demanded from these cruel practices.

Photo Credit: Aenneken

104 comments

Mark Donners
Mark Donner2 years ago

Japan murdered 30 million in World War II. They set up their "Unit 731" a group that was instructed to commit mass torture experiments. Japan hasn't changed and has recently elected warmongers to its government. Since they don't feel guilty about genocide and mass torture, why would they have a conscience about wildlife or the planet? Virtually all of Asia has become a depraved hellhole of psychotics

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Robin H.
Robin H2 years ago

Please let the dolphins live.

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Shari R.
Shari F2 years ago

'fishermen kill dolphins to live. activists want kill these fishermen. life of fisherman is ignored because of life of dolphins.lol.'

Hi, I don't think that most people want to kill fisherman. If anyone does, then that is a an awful, reprehensible viewpoint that the vast majority of right thinking people would abhor. The fact is that these dolphins are sold as either dog meat or sent to theme parks to live in very small tanks that can't accommodate their complex needs. This is cruel. This needs to stop. I understand that some people would lose their livelihoods if they did not kill dolphins anymore but the fact is that this is not a sustainable industry - either with regards to the dolphins themselves as their numbers are depleted, with regards to the captivity industry as many people are turning against this now, or for the people carrying out this slaughter. What does it do a person's soul? This slaughter will stop, it's only a question of when, so those fisherman would do well to find an alternative means of employment sooner rather than later.

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 .
.2 years ago

fishermen kill dolphins to live. activists want kill these fishermen. life of fisherman is ignored because of life of dolphins.lol

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Shari R.
Shari F2 years ago

To finish:

....[The SeaWorld Blue World Project is] actually a breeding project so that they can grow their business in Asia by selling orca to other theme parks whilst moving the SeaWorld brand over there and at the same time state that they are not taking orca from the wild. Basically, the Blue World Project is one of the first steps in expanding SeaWorld's captive orca business model globally.

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Shari R.
Shari F2 years ago

To go off on a small tangent, I have just posted this comment on a thread on this website about SeaWorld's 'Blue World Project.' I'll post it again here as it may interest some readers.

'...if you want your voice to be heard, you really need to contact the California Coastal Commission direct to let them know you object to this proposal. You can email them directly on: SeaWorldOrcaFacility@coastal.ca.gov which is the email address set up to take objections/comments about this project. A lady called Kathleen Haase, who is working with the global charity 'Whale & Dolphin Conservation' has allowed her letter to the CCC to be made public. You can use her words for inspiration for your email if you like. Her email is on this link: https://www.change.org/p/british-airways-stop-selling-trips-to-seaworld-end-your-support-for-these-cruel-orca-circuses/u/13562679?recruiter=30330480&utm_source=share_update&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=share_twitter_responsive&rp_sharecordion_checklist=control

Even if you are not going to email the CCC, you may find her comments interesting as it explains the real reason behind the Blue World Project i.e. that it's not to do with making the pools bigger and thus more palatable to an American fee paying public, but actually a breeding project so that they can grow their business in Asia by selling orca to other theme parks whilst moving the SeaWorld brand over there and at the same time state that they are not taking orca fro

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necole c.
necole c2 years ago

The NOAA Granted SW a permit to get a white sided Dolphin Kirara .. They have till 2017 to get her.. They are waiting on the transport .. More Evidence on SW when they claim they are not tied to Taji Japan https://www.thedodo.com/community/godsake2/seaworlds-collaboration-in-the-949698943.html

We must never stop fighting for the dolphins of Japan !! All Wildlife Matters

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D R.
Shari F2 years ago

Further to my previous comments in which I mentioned British Airways refusing to end its corporate partnership with SeaWorld, I have just booked a flight to go on holiday. I have just emailed BA to advise them that I did not use their services to do this and that the reason was because I cannot, in all good conscience, give them my custom when they promote and support the continued captivity of killer whales. Should you wish to do something similar, this is BA's customer contact form. http://www.ba.com/yourquestions

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Paul Ruddock
Paul Ruddock2 years ago

If Those Of Us Who Truly Care Stand United Against SeaWorld And All Such Purveyors Of Misery They Will Soon Have No Audience And No Reason Not To #EmptyTheTanks Aye

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