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Earth Island Institute

NOVEMBER 21, 2006
5:02 PM

CONTACT: Earth Island Institute
Mark J. Palmer (415) 788-3666 x139
(530) 758-6022
Richard O'Barry
Marine Mammal Specialist
Earth Island Institute
Phone: 305-668 1619
Japan: 81-80 3637 8654

Earth Island Responds to Washington Post "Intelligence Of Dolphins Cited in Fight Against Hunt"

SAN FRANCISCO - November 21 - Earth Island Institute (EII), a leading environmental organization, exposes the scandalous connection between the international dolphin captivity industry and the Japanese dolphin slaughter:

The so-called drive fisheries take place in some remote Japanese coastal fishing communities from October until April each year. The dolphin hunt , a practice that has been going on for 400 years with little opposition , is extremely brutal: Whalers take their boats out to deep water where the dolphins migrate. When they locate a pod of dolphins, they lower stainless steel poles into the water and beat the poles with hammers. The noise creates a wall of sound underwater and sets the dolphins into a state of panic, which enables the whalers to drive the dolphins into a hidden lagoon. Once trapped in the lagoon, the dolphins are doomed: The whalers force them into shallow water and, driving sharp fishermen's hooks into the dolphins' bodies and stabbing them with butcher knives, they bleed the animals to death. The dolphins take several minutes to die. As the water turns red with blood, they thrash about in pain, emitting loud whistles and cries.

"This is the largest dolphin slaughter in the world, and the cruelest thing that I have ever witnessed in my 40 years of working with dolphins," says Richard O'Barry, Marine Mammal Specialist and former trainer of the TV-star Flipper. O'Barry and his Danish wife Helene, Field Correspondent for EII, were in Taiji Japan last week to document the dolphin slaughter. "The public will be shocked to learn that the inhumane and brutal slaughter of dolphins in Japan is supported by members of the dolphin captivity industry," says Helene.

On October 28, 2006, the EII team documented the capture of more than 100 bottlenose dolphins in Taiji. Several of the dolphins were selected by dolphin trainers to be sold alive to dolphinariums. Our team reports that about 30 dolphin trainers gathered in Taiji to select the best looking of the dolphins, allowing the rejects to be slaughtered by the whalers. The capture and selection process was appallingly violent. Panic-stricken dolphins were dragged ashore with ropes. Beached animals accidentally beat each other up in the frenzy as they tried to get back into the water. Mothers and babies were separated by force. The dolphin trainers simply stood by and watched as some of the dolphins, in an effort to escape, got entangled in the capture nets and, unable to reach the surface to breathe, suffocated.

Historically, the capture of dolphins has been highly secretive and rarely photographed, and for decades the multi-billion dollar dolphin captivity industry has claimed that they are capturing and displaying dolphins so that they can educate the public to the necessity of protecting dolphins in nature. But, in reality, the Japanese dolphin slaughter and the use of dolphins for public display are strongly connected. The whalers and dolphin trainers, working side by side to exploit the dolphins in the most cruel manner imaginable, have a symbiotic relationship. The evidence obtained by EII is compelling and irrefutable.

"If the dolphin captivity industry was not fueling the dolphin slaughter by buying dolphins from the Japanese dolphin drives, the dolphin slaughter would have a very hard time surviving," says Dave Phillips, EII Executive Director.

The campaign to stop the dolphin slaughter is a joint project of Elsa Nature Conservancy of Japan, the International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute, One Voice-France, In Defense of Animals and Animal Welfare Institute.

The coalition is hereby calling on captive dolphin facilities worldwide to change their policy and stop supporting and participating in the inhumane practice of the Japanese dolphin drives.



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