We ran an ad in The New York Times calling for an end to the bloody dolphin hunts in Taiji, Japan. The ad includes a link to the Dolphin Project website where the public can send a letter to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asking him to end the hunts and help a baby albino dolphin, called Angel, from dying in captivity:
The Dolphin Project and I plan to present the letter with signatures to the government of Japan and to industry leaders in the U.S. who work for companies based in Japan.
These brutal dolphin hunts and the plight of Angel, the rare albino dolphin, has caught the public's attention. Japan's government calls these brutal hunts a 'tradition,' but the hunts only started in 1969, and the dolphin meat is poisoned by mercury.
Japan must change its ways and end the killing of dolphins and small whales in towns like Taiji.
In a drive hunt involving about 250 bottlenose dolphins in the third week of January, the Taiji hunters took Angel from her mother and put her in the Taiji Whale Museum, the notorious dolphinarium run by the town of Taiji to broker wild-caught dolphins around the world.
Without special measures, it is likely Angel will die in her tank. At the same time, the drive hunts continue, through the end of February, and dozens more dolphins (and hundreds more next season) will die or be snatched from their families for a life in captivity, doing repetitive circus tricks over and over for a reward of dead fish.
Angel's family was destroyed, and because she is was a member of a transient pod of bottlenose dolphins, the chances of her being adopted if she were released are very slim. Add to this the fact that she is an albino, making her a noticeable target to sharks and other predators, and her chances of survival become slim.
Therefore, we are looking to release Angel from the Taiji Whale Museum and put her into a natural seapen or protected cove, so that we can assess the feasibility of releasing her into the wild depending on her health and her compatibility with other wild dolphins.
The Japanese government has no excuse for these cruel and needless slaughters. Japan is badly damaging its international standing and support around the world. Even in Japan, the vast majority of Japanese do not eat dolphin or whale meat and have no interest in it.
Yoko Ono, the widow of John Lennon, is known as a strong defender of Japan. She wrote an open letter on January 20th to the dolphin hunters and Prime Minister Abe, noting: "The way you are insisting on a big celebration of killing so many dolphins and kidnapping some of them to sell to the zoos and restaurants at this very politically sensitive time, will make the children of the world hate the Japanese."
On January 19th, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy expressed the U.S. government's opposition to the dolphin hunts in a public tweet, with similar concerns echoed by representatives of the governments of the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other countries.
Dolphins are extremely intelligent, and some countries, such as India, have banned keeping dolphins in captivity, stating that dolphins should be considered non-human persons with rights to life and liberty. The Japanese government is way behind the rest of the world with these inhumane hunts.
Follow Ric O’Barry on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Dolphin_Project