Ever wonder what’s behind a captive dolphin’s smile? For some, that smile belies the panic and chaos of a terrifying hunt, a traumatic capture and the stress and depression of adjusting to confinement.
Many people do not realize that some aquariums and “swim with dolphins” attractions buy wild-caught dolphins to stock their facilities—especially in new resorts popping up rapidly in the Caribbean*. Dolphin captures are extremely traumatizing, the most violent and cruel method of which is the drive hunt in Taiji, Japan. Exploiting dolphins’ sensitivity to sound, fisherman bang loudly on poles in the water to herd terrified dolphins into shallow water where they are netted off from the open sea. Young (and usually female) dolphins are selected for sale to marine parks while the rest are slaughtered for their meat. Tens of thousands of dolphins and porpoises are killed each year during Japan’s drive hunts. From September until March, the water turns red with blood in the inlets surrounding these coastal towns.
The Cove--an amazing new documentary directed by Louie Psihoyos and featuring Ric O’Barry, a former dolphin trainer turned dolphin defender--exposes this animal welfare atrocity to the world. Using compelling imagery and expert commentary, the film lays out a convincing argument against the dolphin hunts and the captive dolphin trade. Check for show times in your area at www.thecovemovie.com.
Beyond seeing the movie, here are some ways that you can make a difference:
Learn more about the issues. Read “Case Against Marine Mammals in Captivity,” a recent report co-produced by WSPA and The Humane Society of the United States that explores all the issues surrounding captive marine mammals. Read about WSPA’s dramatic dolphin rescues here and here.
Refuse to support the captive marine mammal industry by boycotting facilities that hold dolphins and whales.
- Participate in activities surrounding “Japan Dolphin Day.” WSPA urges you to speak out for dolphins and show your support by participating in an event near you. Read about upcoming “Japan Dolphin Day” events by subscribing to our e-newsletter.
For even more ideas on how you can be a voice for Japan's dolphins visit SaveJapanDolphins.org.
*Although animals caught in drive-hunts have not been imported into the United States for more than 15 years, the government has allowed the exporting of marine mammals caught in U.S. waters to facilities in Japan that hold drive-hunt-caught animals.