A sad day

DolphinsI think I would be safe in saying that most of us sea kayakers love the sea and the creatures in it. Nothing is more thrilling than witnessing wildlife up close from your kayak and I have had the privilege of seeing everything from otters to basking sharks to seals to starfish. It is one of the main reasons that I love kayaking. Unlike some lucky folks, I have yet to be accompanied by dolphins whilst out on the water, a dream that I hope to realise in time.

Many humans feel a special affinity with dolphins. This may be in part due to a recognition of, and connection with, their consciousness and levels of intelligence which are not far removed from (and may even exceed) our own. Scientists have recently concluded that dolphins should be considered “non-human persons”. Quoting from the linked article:

“The studies show how dolphins have distinct personalities, a strong sense of self and can think about the future.”

“What Marino and her colleagues found was that the cerebral cortex and neocortex of bottlenose dolphins were so large that “the anatomical ratios that assess cognitive capacity place it second only to the human brain”.”

With this in mind, it is with horror that I learn today that the massacre of dolphins that occurs annually in Taiji, Japan (as documented in the film, “The Cove“) is proceeding apace, with 52 bottlenose dolphins and 6 risso dolphins butchered within an hour in the last day. As anyone who is familiar with the film will know, this is an act of utterly depraved barbarism. As dolphin families who have been herded into the cove struggle to stay together against the hatcheting inflicted by their brutal captors, mothers are separated from their babies, and all are mercilessly hacked to death. Some are left on the quayside in the throes of agony, gasping their last breaths.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is one of the few organisations who bear witness to this atrocity and I am grateful to them for keeping the world informed and refusing to allow the Japanese to hide this shameful “tradition”. And on that note, the pitiful argument of upholding tradition is soon refuted by the knowledge that there are many human traditions that have thankfully largely been abandoned (such as slavery) as intolerable and morally corrupt.

We must not forget, of course, what makes this annual capture and butchery especially lucrative is the marine aquariums who select and pay for captive animals who are then taken to the likes of Sea World for a life of confinement in chlorinated tanks, reduced to performing tricks for “captive” audiences of tourists. The proceeds from the actual slaughter pale in comparison. Indeed, it is hard to believe that there is much of an appetite for mercury-laden dolphin meat, and certainly not much outside of Japan.

If, like me, you feel sickened by this butchery, there are a few things you can do:

  • Contact the Japanese ambassador/consulate general for your country, detailed here.
    The Consulate General for Japan in Edinburgh’s details are:
    Consulate General of Japan in Edinburgh
    2 Melville Crescent Edinburgh EH3 7HW
    Tel: +44 (0)131 225 4777
    Fax: +44 (0)131 225 4828
  • Boycott all marine aquariums
  • Contact the press and request that they cover this important news story
  • Support Sea Shepherd
  • Tell everyone you know.

One is not a great one because one defeats or harms other living beings. One is so called because one refrains from defeating or harming other living beings.”
~ The Buddha, Dhammapada

The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double-backwards-somersault through a hoop whilst whistling the ‘Star Spangled Banner’, but in fact the message was this: So long and thanks for all the fish.”
– Douglas Adams , The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy