In a video gone viral recently, a few melon-headed whales are seen cowering to the rocky bank of the shallow seawater where a net held them captivated. The hunters who caught them are nearby killing their family members and the terrified whales must have known they were going to face their turns too.
Although the scene was already heartbreaking enough, a little dolphin went on to throw himself on the rocks due to terror and made the entire situation even more difficult to deal with.
“He wanted out — he wanted to get away, and his only option was up,” Tim Burns, a volunteer for Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, the group that filmed the incident, said. “You can see him stick his head up, and then he starts kicking his tail.”
The young whale had injured himself badly because, unfortunately, the rocks were “extremely sharp,” Burns explained. “It wound up with its nose completely bloody,” he said.
The scene took place in Taiji, a small fishing town in Japan, recently. Dolphins and whales are regularly captured and killed there. Local fishermen first locate wild pods in the open ocean, catch them bu hitting on their boat hulls with metal poles to create a wall of sound and prevent them from swimming away.
After trapping the animals, the fishermen load them on vehicles and put them into a killing cove with nets to avoid them escaping.
Then, the trainers start selecting the “attractive” dolphins and whales to use them as entertainment at the local Taiji Whale Museum, to sell to marine parks and dolphinariums, and to swimming-with-the-dolphins programs all over the world. Then, more often than not, these animals are slaughtered right in front of each other.
Yesterday, they caught a family of about 45 to 50melon- headed whales and killed most of them. They sent four of them to captivity and a few were dumped back into the ocean. The juveniles may have been released for now, but they can barely survive without their mothers.
“It was a horrific slaughter altogether,” Burns said. “They claim they developed this process where they stick a spike into its back and break its spine, and it’s supposed to kill them instantly. But we’re documenting more and more that this is not the case.”
Although it is not sure what happened to the little whale who hit the rocks, Burns suspects he dies because of it.
“The terror and suffering these dolphins endured is unimaginable,” Ric O’Barry, founder of Dolphin Project, wrote in a Facebook post about yesterday’s drive. “How is it possible to think that inflicting prolonged terror and suffering on sentient beings and dumping young calves back out at sea alone and terrified could ever be considered anything other than cruel and inhumane?”
The main factor that influences these kinds of inhumanity is the captive dolphin industry. These fishermen can benefit thousands of dollars for every dolphin they sell, which is why they do not cease from chasing and capturing these animals. Moreover, they also benefit from their meat.
“Education is what drives change in the world, and the more people who know, the more who are empowered [to help these dolphins],” Nikki Botha, a volunteer for Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians, another group monitoring the dolphin drives in Taiji, said. “They can decide not to buy tickets to dolphinariums and dolphin shows because these businesses are essentially what is driving what is happening in Taiji.”
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