Dying to entertain us
Torsten Engelbrecht and Jeremy Smith
1st October, 2004
A harrowing insight into the hugely profitable and brutal world of captive dolphins
Last year Ric O’Barry, one of the original trainers for Flipper, the famous US television series about a dolphin, witnessed the infamous dolphin drive fisheries that take place annually around the harbour of Taiji in southern Japan. He had gone there with colleagues from One Voice, the French animal protection group for which he now works.
Each year many thousands of dolphins and small whales are encircled with giant nets and coralled into the lagoon at Taiji. Once the animals have been tightly packed together they are slaughtered in a frenzy of bloodletting that turns the lagoon red. Last year 20,000 dolphins and small whales died in this way, killed for their meat.
In recent years the drive fisheries have inspired international uproar. But O’Barry believes that those campaigning against them are missing one central point. The market price of dolphin meat has plummeted due to concerns about it being laced with mercury and other toxins. These days, the only thing that makes these fisheries financially viable, O’Barry asserts, is that in amongst the men with knives are men with nets – men employed by the captive dolphin industry to catch live specimens for the purposes of...
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