The video shows hunters holding the calf down whilst his mother frantically tries to rescue him.
A volunteer recently traveled to Japan to document hunters capturing a huge pod of dolphins and ripping the babies away from their distraught mothers during their annual hunt. At the time of the dolphin capture this weekend in Taiji, the hunters caught their biggest pod yet, with a total of 300 dolphins. Following the hunt, the dolphins are all individually thrown around and separated whilst decisions are made on what to do with each of them, depending on their size, age, and appearance. Those who are deemed pretty enough will be sold to marine parks to be brutally trained as performing animals, whilst the ones who have just witnessed their family members being taken are thrown back into the ocean. Numerous stories have since emerged about the individual horrors of single dolphins, but one volunteer managed to film a baby being tragically ripped away from its mother.
The video clip, recorded by volunteer Liz Carter, who traveled to Taiji to document the annual event, shows a group of hunters selecting a young dolphin to sell to an aquarium, and proceeding to rip him away from his distressed mother. During the video, a voice can be heard, which may be Carter’s, saying “oh my god, the mother’s trying to follow him”, whilst the hunters are yanking the baby away. The selection process of the captured dolphins involved the divers swimming through the mass of dolphins, who have been left without food for days, and selecting those that they believe will earn them the most money. As the divers grab the baby, they restrict his movements as he tries tirelessly to struggle back to his mother. The baby’s mother can be seen in the footage circling the divers desperately trying to get close to her baby again, whilst the hunters ignore her. The baby is then carried to an awaiting net before being shipped off to be a trained performer in a life of captivity.
Whilst some people claim that the annual Taiji hunt is a tradition, reports have said that it is a reasonably new practice, which was invented with the sole intention of making money, by some of the richest men in the area. Each year, hundreds of dolphins and whales are captured in Taiji’s annual hunt. The ones that are not attractive enough to be selected for aquariums and marine parks are often killed for their meat. Those that are sold to the parks can earn hunters over $100,000 for each trained dolphin. During the hunt, the area is always heavily policed to prevent any onlookers from getting a close look and possibly intervening.
Volunteers such as Carter hope that by documenting the horrific process, and spreading awareness around the world, people will become increasingly aware of the practices that take place in order to provide marine shows. Carter said to The Dodo,
“One hundred dolphins were stolen, some died from the process. Juveniles ripped from their mothers … [and] the mother and child are desperately trying to stay together. “[They’re] destined for marine parks and aquariums. The price of a ticket and a day trip out to a marine park isn’t worth this.”
People around the world can spread awareness of these events in an attempt to stop the Taiji dolphin hunt, and take a pledge promising not to go to dolphin shows which support the hunt.
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