What is The Cove?

The Cove: The fight to end Japan’s Dolphin Hunt

by Madison E. Rowe, September 6, 2012

The Cove (film)

The Cove (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The annual dolphin hunt provides big business along Japan’s coastal areas. But the hunt has been a contentious issue amongst pro and anti whaling organizations in the country for years.

Click here to sign the petition to end the dolphin hunt.

News and lifestyle blog TakePart.com recently profiled a woman named Tia Butt. The website describes how Butt would wake up at sunrise everyday in the small coastal town of Taiji to observe its annual dolphin hunt. Butt is a keen volunteer under the Dolphin Project campaign, acting as a “cove monitor”. These monitors keep tabs on the Japanese dolphin hunt.

“I’ve seen days where the dolphins get away, but then you have days where you see [the fishermen] get them and they push them into the cove and kill some of them,” Butt said to TakePart. “As you know, they’re very intelligent animals. They know what’s going on.”

Starting in September, the area’s fishermen trap and kill hundreds of dolphins. These animals are either sent into captivity at marine parks or packaged into meat for consumption.

The Dolphin Project campaign is one of many groups fighting this cause. According to Takepart, activists landed in Taiji this week. Their goal is to peacefully push for change from Japanese fishermen and generate enough media coverage to get people’s attention.

After learning about Japan’s dolphin slaughter early last year via YouTube clips and the documentary The Cove, Butt reportedly decided to take action. A natural runner, Takepart says she fundraised almost $3,000 from races in support of the Dolphin Project. Butt also traveled to Taiji in September for a few days to participate in the campaign. She then came back a few weeks later on her own to become a cove monitor.

“Never in a million years did I think I could go to Taiji and observe the killings, but once I was there, I knew I had to come back,” Butt said.

As a cove monitor, she is one of many committed volunteers who sign up to travel to Japan, on their own dime, to fight against the slaughter.

Mark Palmer is associate director of the Earth Island Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project. He told TakePart: “We’re looking for people who can spend time in Taiji; usually we recommend up to two weeks.”

TakePart explains that these volunteers spend time with veteran cove monitors, who prepare them for the hunts and train them in their responsibilities. The cove monitors conduct outreach with Taiji locals, write letters to Japanese officials, and continuously monitor the numbers of dolphins killed or captured in the hunt.

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Countdown to Extinction Continues for World’s Rarest Dolphin

Just 100 Maui’s dolphins left alive

There are just 100 Maui's dolphins left alive. Credit NABU image

There are just 100 Maui’s dolphins left alive. Credit NABU

January 2012. Another one of the world’s last 100 Maui’s dolphins died in fishing net in New Zealand. Its death is a another stark reminder that measures to protect the world’s most endangered marine dolphin against fisheries bycatch are inadequate to prevent their extinction.

Another one of the world’s last 100 Maui’s dolphins died in a fishing net in New Zealand.

“Despite overwhelming evidence that Maui’s dolphins are being killed faster than they can breed, there is a conspiracy of silence concerning these unique marine mammals”, says Thomas Tennhardt, Vice President of NABU and Chair of NABU International. Unless we can break it, Maui’s dolphins simply don’t stand a chance. Their extinction is unlikely to flatter New Zealand’s international image”.

Via www.wildlifeextra.com

Dolphins Have no Part in this Dispute with Iran

If Iran closes the Strait of Hormuz, the U.S. Navy has a backup plan to save one-fifth of the world’s daily oil trade: “send in the dolphins”.  The question is: Do you support the use of dolphins and marine mammals in general for military use? Personally I don’t.

Bottlenose dolphin U.S. military mine huntingThe US Navy has trained dolphins to detect mines. Now, they might be used in the conflict with Iran over its nuclear policies.

In response to heightened sanctions, Iran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, the only sea route out of the Persian Gulf and, according to the US energy department, “the world’s most important oil choke”. Iran might use mines to do it, and if they should do so, then, according to retired US Admiral Tim Keating, who previously commanded the US 5th Fleet in Bahrain, “we’ve got dolphins.”

According to earlier reports, the US Navy has trained about 80 dolphins to detect mines. Some reports say that the dolphins only locate the mines and drop acoustic transponders nearby, so that humans can destroy the mines, but it is also possible for the dolphins to set off the mines and die in the resulting explosion, and, of course, using the dolphins in this way makes them – and any other dolphins in the area – targets for the Iranians to destroy if they can.

Animals, or at least those who are conscious and capable of suffering or enjoying their lives, are not things for us to use in whatever way we find convenient. To believe that, because they are members of a different species, we can ignore or discount their interests is speciesism, a form of prejudice against beings who are not “us” that is akin to racism and sexism. We should give equal consideration to the interests of any sentient being, where their interests are similar to our own.

Dolphins are social mammals, capable of enjoying their lives. They form close bonds with other members of their group. They respond to images of themselves in a mirror, and use the mirror to examine marks on parts of their body that they cannot otherwise see – a test that is widely taken to be a sign of self-awareness, which human children cannot pass until they are somewhere between 18 months and two years of age.

The United States no longer conscripts its citizens to fight its wars. All its human troops are volunteers. But even conscripts have some basic rights. The dolphins have none.

Late last year, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, together with three international orca experts, and two former orca trainers asked a federal court in San Diego to declare that five orcas held and forced to perform by SeaWorld are held as slaves in violation of the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution that outlaws slavery. The suit has yet to be heard, but a similar case might be made against the US Navy for its use of dolphins.

Various civilizations have, at times, enslaved human beings and forced them to fight for their oppressors. That despicable practice is now rightly condemned, as far as human beings are concerned, but the enslavement of other species continues, in many areas of human life, and the use of slaves in war continues in the United States Navy.

It might be argued that as long as billions of animals are confined in factory farms to produce meat, eggs and milk, the use of a few dolphins in military action is trivial. Obviously, the amount of suffering we inflict on factory-farmed animals every day dwarfs whatever might happen to the dolphins.

Nevertheless, just when we are starting to realize how gravely we are wronging animals, and to do something about this – like the very welcome European Union ban on standard battery cages for laying hens, which came into effect on 1 January this year – we ought not to be finding new ways to exploit them.

Dolphins have nothing to do with the dispute over Iran’s nuclear plans. Whatever the rights and wrongs of taking military action against Iran, let’s leave the dolphins out of it.

Source: Guardian.co.uk, published on January 19, 2012 – Peter Singer

Related articles:

The Navy Is Depending on Dolphins to Keep the Strait of Hormuz Open (tarpon.wordpress.com)

Why Not Let Iran Close the Strait of Hormuz? (blogcritics.org)

Tensions rise in the Strait of Hormuz (laaska.wordpress.com)

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Dolphins in Captivity vs. Dolphins in the Wild

Text and Video From YouTube Channel: dolphin5297 , Zach Affolter

Learn about the differences between dolphins in captivity and dolphins in the wild…


In the wild, dolphins jump on their own free will. In the wild, dolphins and other whales:

  • dolphins in the wild image

    Dolphins in the Wild

    Have home ranges (e.g. orcas can dive as deep as 60m and travel as far as 160km in a day and bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Cornwall, UK, have been recorded to travel up to 1076km in 20 days).

  •  Are almost always in motion, even when resting and spend less than 20% of their time at the water’s surface. Orcas and Dall’s porpoise are two of the fastest animals in the sea (Dall’s porpoises can reach swimming speeds of up to 35mph).
  • Live in highly complex societies; with some individuals holding key roles within a specific group (e.g. communicator with other pods, nursing).
  • Choose to form strong, long-lasting social bonds with certain other members of their pod.
  • Are intelligent and can demonstrate problem solving and abstract concept formation, e.g. utilise tools — female bottlenose dolphins in Australia have learned to use natural sponges to protect their beaks while foraging among sea urchins on the sea bed.
  • Are altruistic, some species have been witnessed helping other members of their pod, other species and even humans in trouble. They are self-aware and display highly responsive behavior.
  • Have culture i.e. they teach and learn traditions (e.g. Patagonian orcas partially strand themselves to catch sea-lions).
  • Demonstrate a high degree of vocal adaptability e.g. orcas in different parts of the world have completely different dialects from one another.


In captivity, dolphins and other whales:

  • Dolphin in captivity Zoo Lisbon image

    Dolphin in captivity

    Are separated from their natural habitat and enclosed in a totally alien environment.

  • Have to undergo medication and fertility control. Aquatic Mammals 2005, 31 (3) lists 199 facilities worldwide. More have established since then.
  • Have to put up with an artificial diet, unusual noise, strange odors and the proximity of people and other unfamiliar captive animals.
  • No longer have free will to choose social bonds.
  • May suffer aggression from other pool mates more dominant than them.
  • Are sometimes kept on their own (some in hotel swimming pools), e.g. four orcas are currently held in captivity on their own.
  • Suffer from stress, reduced life expectancy and breeding problems. The Marine Mammal Inventory Report, maintained by the U.S. government, lists a variety of causes of death including drowning, ingestion of foreign objects and aggression from pool mates

The facts are plain – most dolphins and whales are not born in captivity, and with breeding rates unable to meet the need to restock facilities, dolphins and whales continue to be captured from the wild. You can help captive dolphins and the slaughter of thousands of these incredible creatures by not supporting dolphinaria.

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Study Shows Best Places to Protect Marine Mammals

From sea otters to blue whales, marine mammals are under stress from climate change, ocean acidification, hunting and other threats. Researchers have identified 20 important sites around the world where they say conservation efforts should concentrate.

A surfacing vaquita porpoiseMarine mammals are widely distributed in the oceans and some freshwater  locations, but 11 of the conservation sites are home to creatures found nowhere else, according to the study led by Sandra Pompa of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Researchers dubbed those sites “irreplaceable” and added that the nine others selected include representatives of 84 percent of all marine mammals.

Currently the most endangered marine mammal is the vaquita, a porpoise that lives in the northern section of the Gulf of California, Pompa said.

The 11 sites deemed irreplaceable were the Hawaiian Islands, Galapagos Islands, Amazon River, San Felix and Juan Fernandez Islands off the coast of Chile, Mediterranean Sea, Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal in Russia, Yangtze River, Indus River, Ganges River and the Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean.

In addition, the nine sites picked for their species richness were along the coasts of Baja California, much of the eastern coast of the Americas (the Atlantic coast of the U.S. and including coastal areas of Cuba, Hispaniola, Colombia and Venezuela), Peru, Argentina, Northwestern Africa, South Africa, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

The findings in the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will be valuable as a conservation tool for organizations and governments that want to focus on endangered species, Pompa said.

At least three species — the Caribbean monk seal, Atlantic gray whale and Steller’s sea cow — became extinct because of hunting for their fur, blubber and meat during the 19th and 20th centuries, the researchers noted. The most recent extinction, declared in 2008, was the baiji, a type of porpoise, from the Yangtze River in China.

Published on: August, 01 2011 by Randolph E. Schmid AP Science Writer – ABCNews TechnologyStudy Shows Best Places to Protect Marine Mammals

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