Launching Legal Action to Help Angel and Other Dolphins

Sarah Lucas

I was in Taiji, Japan – the dolphin hunting capital of the world – when I read Kathleen Stachowski’s wonderful Animal Blawg on the ubiquity of speciesism. Kathleen observes: “speciesism is everywhere and so thoroughly normalized that it’s invisible in plain sight”. I nodded my head when I read this, as I’ve thought it many times as I stood on the shore of Taiji’s cove helplessly watching dolphins being herded to their deaths – the cruelty is so extreme and horrifying, yet it seems to be hidden in plain sight to those inflicting it.

ANGEL 16In Taiji, such hunts take place nearly every day for half the year, annually capturing around 2,000 small whales (dolphins, porpoises and pilot whales). As the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling does not apply to small whales – or at least, is argued not to by pro-whaling countries – small whales are sadly afforded no international legal protection. Thus, despite the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling, which is enforced to a degree in relation to large whales, tens of thousands of small whales continue to be killed every year in commercial hunts in Japan, Peru and other countries.

These hunts are not only conservationally damaging, but unspeakably Continue reading

Sea Mammals Weep While They Seem to Smile

Dong Luo

Dozens of protesters crashed through the gates of an Ontario theme park on Oct 7th railing against its treatment of marine life and managed to shut down a dolphin show at Marineland in Niagara Falls. Dylan Powell of the group Marineland Animal DefenSe, which organized the protest, says that the group is dedicated to ending animal captivity and is determined to shut down Marineland for good (Marineland closed for the season that weekend). Continue reading

Endangered Sei Whale Sushi — You Just Have to Know Who to Ask

The Hump, a chic Japanese restaurant in Santa Monica, served sushi made from the flesh of the endangered sei whale to customers willing to fork over the appropriate dough.  Two patrons went to the restaurant with an undercover film crew and, after racking up a $600 tab, requested whale meat.  The chef served it up —  it was even identified as such on their tab.  The patrons (and their film crew, who were acting at the behest of Louie Psihoyos, Oscar-winning director of The Cove) smuggled some flesh out of the restaurant, where they had it genetically tested.    Continue reading

A Victory for “Flipper”

dolphin-01Chris Cuomo

Each year hunters in the western Japanese town of Taiji hunt and kill over 2,000 dolphins by hand.  Activists worldwide have attempted to end this gruesome display of animal cruelty, but have been unsuccessful. Under International Whaling Commission regulations, whaling is banned, but the hunting of dolphins is still permitted.   Apparently Japan has also found a loophole that would allow them to kill whales under the guise of scientific research. Fortunately, through the use of hidden microphones and cameras, it appears that the movie industry has succeeded in giving the public a firsthand account of what actually goes on behind closed doors. The 2009 movie “The Cove” captured on film the true story behind the annual slaughter ritual of dolphin hunting in Taiji.

Continue reading

Misplaced Activism?

I found the trailer for The Cove the other night while browsing the You can find it here.  I’m encouraged that this is on the front page of the trailers page; it gives me hope that it might been seen by more people than it would if it were advertised only in independent movie houses (though how wide the release will actually be, I am not sure).  Wide exposure appears to be the hope of the film makers, based on their comments in the trailer. The catch is that getting an American audience to pay attention isn’t really the point. Yes, exposure is important, and creating concern is an essential part of the animal rights movement. Unless, however, it goes to the next step, where voters put pressure on Congress to restrict trade with Japan in retaliation for the dolphin hunt, is there much point?

This slaughter already had decent media exposure in 2007 when Hayden Panettiere took part in an attempt to stop an annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Wakayama, Japan, the target of The Cove. The Japanese media criticized the event as a condemnation of their culture. It’s a fair point, actually. I don’t support dolphin slaughter, but we as Americans are being rather hypocritical (how unexpected), denouncing the Japanese hunt, but allowing subsistence whaling and pouring tax dollars into factory farming of both mammals and fish. Once again, we are arbitrarily conferring elevated rights to a species because of their intelligence or “cuteness,” while blindly suppressing and torturing the lives of terrestrial farmed animals in this country.

I intend to see The Cove when it is released at the end of next month, and it will probably make me sick with rage. It is rated PG-13 for “disturbing images.” I can only imagine. If nothing else, it will be a great look into the efforts animal rights advocates have to take simply to show what is being done to animals, even if they are not interfering. Whether it will have the impact it hopes to achieve, however, is another story, and I am not sure it will be received well, or even seen, by Japanese audiences, which is where the real exposure is most needed.

–Seth Victor