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The Life of the Japanese Dolphin: A historic and present look at Japanese culture

Follow the path and learn about the early days of whaling and the present days of the brutal dolphin hunts in Taigi. Learn what it is to be a dolphin...and help save Japanese dolphins!

Vanessa Haag

on 16 May 2013

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Transcript of The Life of the Japanese Dolphin: A historic and present look at Japanese culture

Taigi, Japan is classified as being a small town and the reputation there is of being "unsophisticated" and "backwards" by neighboring communities because of the annual dolphin hunts that happen every September through March. Turning Point In the 2012-2013 dolphin hunting season there are more dolphins being taken captivity than ever due to a recent boom in amusement park aquariums in the Middle East, Japan, China and the Caribbean. "It was estimated that 247 dolphins were taken captivity as of Feb. 20, 2013. Last season 50 were taken captivity which was a lot then." (Kirby 7.) Success Challenge The Life of the Japanese Dolphin Taigi is known as a whaling town and made way for sophisticated whaling techniques in the 17th Century. One technique was to use a hand held harpoon and the other more efficient technique was to use a net. Whales have been an important part of Japanese culture and tradition especially to the Ainu (pronounced Eye-noo) people of Northern Japan. Whales were used as meat and oil and also honored as being important to the spiritual world. The sea god Repun Kamuy is often seen as an orca or a young man with a harpoon and he promised the Ainu people that the bounty of the sea will always keep them from starvation after observing the Ainu respectfully cutting up the whale meat he gave them as a gift by wearing ritual clothing and using sacred swords. Ainu people of Northern Japan In 1986 a ban on commercial whaling was enacted by the International Whaling Commission due to a decline in whale populations. Taigi, Japan hunts small whales such as pilot whales and dolphins in a brutal, non- respectful way. Fishermen use banger boats and get into migratory routes of dolphins and scare them into the cove where dolphin trainers will pick out the select few they want and the rest of the dolphins are slaughtered in a brutal stabbing death where they are stabbed behind the blowhole in the spine causing them to become paralyzed and suffer a slow death by blood loss or they are drown by fishermen (if you can call them fishermen) in dive-suits. Some dolphins are dragged out of the water with a rope around their tail and if not dead they are killed and gutted. Some dolphins may be partially alive during this procedure. Drive hunts are inhumane and not allowed in any slaughterhouse worldwide, including Japan. Drive hunts are not Japanese tradition and neither is it to eat dolphin meat. It is tradition to eat whale meat. The drive hunts were invented in the 1970's because of the amount of money it was making and because of the ban on whaling. Dolphins are intelligent and should be respected. A recent study has shown that dolphins are the only others besides us that can call each other by name. Each dolphin has it's own signature whistle and other dolphin pod members can mimic it if they want to get that specific dolphin's attention. Boycott dolphin meat! In 2003 The Sea Shepherd became involved in Taigi. The March 11, 2011 tsunami destroyed most of the facilities involved in butchering of dolphins, so the death rates have gone down. As of the 2012-2013 dolphin hunting season 899 dolphins have been slaughtered and hundreds of dolphins and pilot whales were released because the freezers in Taigi butcher shops are full with meat that cannot be sold. Japanese people are becoming educated about the mercury contamination in dolphin meat and watching The Cove and becoming involved in the Save Japan Dolphins campaign. Japan's aquariums and water parks and programs like "Swim with the Dolphins" work in partnership with butchers in Taigi. Recently SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida has been trying to import a female dolphin that was caught in the cove. There have been other instances in the past where SeaWorld has imported dolphins that were captured in the cove. A mother comforts her baby in the cove as they await their horrible fate. Dolphins are very intelligent and they realize what is happening while the fishermen kill their pod family members. Dolphins who are forgotten in the bloody waters only hanging on to life are able to commit suicide by not taking a breath of air to escape the inhumane misery. HEARTBREAKING! Save me!!! The recent spikes in dolphins sold for captivity could be because there have been rumors that fishermen are thinking of ending the drive hunts! They may, however, be stocking up on captives. Dolphins in captivity suffer stress due to being fenced in and away from their pods. NOISE also stresses dolphins out and amusement parks are very noisy! Many dolphins suffer from stomach problems and use Maalox and Tagamet. My stomach hurts! The fishermen regard killing dolphins as "pest control" because they claim that dolphins are eating too much fish and that there is not enough fish in the ocean for both the nation of Japan and for the dolphins...so according to them, dolphins must be eliminated. As of January 2013 populations of the Bluefin Tuna has plummeted by 96% and if people keep over-fishing the Bluefin will become extinct in the near future. The Bluefin Tuna (hon-maguro) is known as the "king of sushi" in Japan and it is the most expensive fish in the world. A single Bluefin can sell for 2 million yen ($22,000) at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market. It isn't the dolphins............it's the people! Quoted from Mimi, a Japanese woman living in Tokyo, "I agree dolphin killing is wrong, but is not very common in Japan at all. I am a Japanese woman, living in Tokyo and other parts of Japan, but I have NEVER seen restaurants that serve dolphin. As I didn't know the tiny town in Japan was doing such things. It is a bad image of Japan, but there are evil people everywhere in the world, even in the United States. As the movie "Food Inc." showed, there are not just individuals but also corporations and government involvement in abusing cattle to produce sustainable meat." She goes on to say, "I want to say that please do not hate Japan because of this. I admit that this is a shameful part of Japan, but it is only a tradition for a tiny town. A size of Japan the same as California." Malcolm Foster quotes Sumire Baba, a Tokyo homemaker, in his article "Japan's Bluefin Tuna Disappearing, But Few Chefs Fear Shortage", "I have seen some reports on TV about their numbers falling, but I really haven't thought about cutting back on eating hon-maguro. I guess I'm optimistic they will recover." (6.) Bluefin Tuna sushi Japan consumes about 80% of the worlds Bluefin Tuna, blaming it on cozy ties between regulators and fishermen and for the media failing to put the information about declining tuna populations in the media. Japan has limited fishing on Bluefin
and put caps on tuna farms. Give them a thumbs up! 6% of all fish is consumed in Japan. Tuna is the most popular, but eel is ranked third most popular. 130,000 tons of eel is consumed in Japan in a single year. Taigi is the size of California! The eel is important to the Japanese because it is rich in Vitamin A which is good for the skin and Vitamin E which prevents aging. Girls have beautiful skin because they eat eel. It also gives stamina to men working long hours in the hot summer sun. More eel is eaten in the summer than any other time of the year. At the end of July there is a commemorative day in honor of the eel called Eel Day. Eels are sold in all stores and there even is an "eel dog" which is equivalent to the American hotdog. mmmmmm.... eel sushi! The American eel can only be caught in Maine and South Carolina in the US. Many of these eels, caught as glass eels, are sold to eel farms in Taiwan and China where they are then sold worldwide. Japan gets 80% of their eels from these eel farms even though many Japanese prefer their native eel. The American eel In the old days Japanese people caught
eels in bamboo traps 1 at a time. This
is no longer used because of demand.
Workers in an eel butcher shop can clean,
skewer and grill 4,000 eels a day. In the 1970's a program was started and funded to study and breed eels in Japan. Since no one has ever seen eels breed in the wild, breeding eels in this study hasn't gone too well. Many fertilized eggs don't make it or the baby eels are deformed. In Japan the most advanced research is being done to study eels. We love eels! Bottlenose dolphins in the wild off the coast of Australia. This is how dolphins should be! "Methods to stop dolphin killing in Japan needs to come from Japan otherwise the war against this will turn into an us (Japanese) vs. them (foreigners) battle. Japanese who are either uninterested or undecided will tend to side with their own countrymen to resist what they see as another example of the culturally imperialistic West trying to reshape the world in their own image." As quoted by Joseph Jaworski, Kumamoto, a letter within the Japan Times. Ric O' Barry Campaign Director of Dolphin Project, Earth Island Institute savejapandolphins.org Thanks! Ainu people using the net whaling technique Totally Wild! A historic and present look at Japanese culture
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