Sunday, February 27, 2011

Taiji: Types of Dolphin Hunting Throughout the Year

In Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan the killing of dolphins is not restricted solely to the much publicized drive hunts, which were the focus of Ric O’Barry’s great work in “The Cove”.

Taiji has a three pronged approach to the extermination of migrating dolphins here; first is the dolphin drive hunts in which up to 12 of the registered “banger” boats venture out to sea on an almost daily basis within their nominated season (1 September to 31 March). These are assisted by up to 4 smaller skiffs, used once the dolphins have been driven closer to Taiji harbour / the cove.

The dolphin drives account for the majority of the dolphins killed for their meat and skin and all of the live captures.

Secondly, Taiji has the provision to use up to 3 small coastal harpoon vessels. Within Taiji in 2007 and 2008 these reportedly killed 40 Risso and 16 short finned pilot whales. An example of this type of vessel is shown below – the sizable harpoon is covered with a green tarp in this photo;

These small whaling ships have their own separate annual quota and are believed to go out hunting between May and end August every year.

We found examples of the last of Taiji’s hunting equipment; the boats used for hand held harpoons. One of these boats, pictured below has one of these gruesome hand thrown lances on it’s bow;

These boats are equipped with a platform on the bow for the hunter to throw the sharp tipped spear into the back of the swimming dolphins, polystyrene floats are likely to be attached to the harpoon line to ensure that the dolphins stay afloat and can be retrieved. In 2008 the fleet of hand held harpoon boats recorded the killing of 122 Risso, 65 striped and 93 bottlenose dolphins although in previous years small numbers of spotted dolphins have been killed.

It is assumed that the May to end August period, being the drive fisheries ‘off season’, is when this type of dolphin killing occurs. This is another example of a brutal form of killing subjected on a species which far too many Japanese people still regard as fish.

Anyone that has a basic understanding of cetaceans knows that they are not fish, here are a number of the differences;

Dolphins breathe air through a blowhole and have lungs, fish extract air from water through their gills.

Dolphins are warm blooded, not cold blooded like fish.

Dolphins give birth to live young, after a gestation period longer than humans. Fish lay eggs.

Dolphin pups are fed mothers milk, just like humans. Fish fry feed for themselves and are not reliant on the maternal bond and nurturing.

A baby dolphin needs to be with its mother for at least the first year, before it can feed and fend for itself in the wild.  Fish are able to survive on their own after emerging from their eggs.

A dolphin’s tail is horizontal and moves up and down not vertical as in fish, which moves from side to side.

Dolphins have complex feelings, emotions and are self-aware, fish do not have these characteristics.

The excuse that dolphins are fish thereby removing them from an animal welfare legislation, within Japan, is a convenience that allows a small group of individuals to continue to kill these mammals whose intelligence they profit from within the dolphinarium industry.

Original Story Posted Here: Eyes On Taiji

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