Dolphinarium Industry - Putting the 'CON' into conservation…
While quotas are going down for the drive fishery, and fewer dolphins are being slaughtered, there has been a gradual increase in the numbers of dolphins captured for the dolphinarium industry. Dolphinariums are openly doing business with the dolphin hunters so are helping to maintain the dolphin drive hunts.
A live dolphin sold to a dolphinarium brings in a much higher profit than a dead dolphin sold as meat. In Taiji live bottlenose dolphins, have been sold for as much as $152,000 USD each. A ‘meat’ dolphin fetches around $600. The captive industry is driving the dolphin slaughter so that people can ‘see’ captive dolphins performing tricks! Of course, the Dolphinariums that purchase dolphins from the hunters are quick to claim they are “saving” the dolphins from slaughter!
Dolphin Trainers from Dolphinariums work side-by-side, with dolphin hunters, helping to force the dolphins into shallow water, hauling the dolphins ashore and lining them up. The trainers then inspect the dolphins one by one, choosing only the ones that can be used in dolphin shows and captive dolphin swim programs. They are typically looking for young, unblemished dolphins. They “save” only the ones that can be commercially exploited in the display industry. The ones that are too old, too young, or the wrong gender or have too many blemishes are not worth “saving” so they let the fishermen kill them.
Dolphin trainers have even been seen assisting the fishermen in bringing these ‘rejected’ dolphins to be killed. The Trainers use ropes and physical force to separate the babies from their mothers. They haul the mothers close to the rocky beach to measure and inspect them. The babies cry out, helpless. They don’t even bother to inspect the very young - they know, these babies can’t be used in dolphin shows - so they very young are always killed!
Dolphinariums and Marine parks take advantage of the dolphin slaughter to make huge profits from captive dolphins. The horrific selection process drags on for several hours, whilst some dolphins die from shock, exhaustion or their injuries.
Cove Monitors from the Dolphin Project, have seen members of the international aquarium and zoo industry get in the water with the dolphin hunters, tying ropes around the dolphins’ tail flukes so that the fishermen could tie the dolphins to their boats. The fishermen haul the dolphins to the killing cove, with the dolphins’ blowholes underwater. The dolphins are so exhausted at this point, they can’t even stay afloat. Some have large amounts of blood coming out of their blowholes., but no one seems to care, they are going to be killed anyway! Not even pregnant females or young calves are spared.
A number of aquariums and swim-with-dolphins programs around the world purchase live dolphins caught in the bloody drive hunts of Taiji. Japan alone has more than 50 dolphinariums and swim-with-dolphins programs, ranging from large aquarium facilities with huge tanks and dolphin shows to small tanks at hotels or floating sea pens in harbours.
In the last ten years, dolphin exports from Taiji have gone to China, Korea, Ukraine, Russia, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
U.S. aquariums like SeaWorld claim they don’t import dolphins from Taiji, but prior to a ruling by the NMFS stating that imports from Taiji, Japan, were illegal because under U.S. law the capture of marine mammals should be humane, small cetaceans like false killer whales were regularly obtained by SeaWorld, the Indianapolis Zoological Society, Miami Seaquarium, and the U.S. Navy.