Tag Archive: dolphin interaction


Dear Ichiro Fujisaki and Readers,

You have reached my tenth and final post for this blog! Congratulations on making it this far (I know some of these posts are quite lengthy) and thank you for taking the time to educate yourself on an issue that deserves your attention. You now have the intelligence to go out and make a persuasive case on the campaign against dolphin slaughter.  Let’s recap on what embodies this education. Hyperlinks direct you to the blog post that expands on the linked subject.

More than 2000 dolphins are killed each year in Japan alone. A majority of this slaughter takes place in a cove in Taiji, Japan. Research supports that dolphins have an incredible capacity for intelligence, self awareness, and memory. Therefore they may even be aware of their fate in the cove! Despite the brutal manner in which these animals are killed, which involves hours of torturing their sonar perception by banging on pipes, the meat is extremely toxic with mercury. This mercury is extremely harmful to humans, as seen in the Minamata case.

The Japanese government refuses to take action to change these policies or warn the Japanese people that their food may be poisoned. Some of the meat is even mislabeled! Promoters of the practice claim that it is a cultural tradition, but common knowledge amongst Taiji civilians about the issue is rare. The angered reaction from Japanese fisherman when the topic is exposed further adds suspicion to this cultural justification.

There are plans that can be implemented to begin the process of excluding dolphin as an edible product. They include restricting fishing policies and banning the distribution of dolphin meat according to health regulations. Even though dolphin does create a large amount of economic profit for Japan, there are more also reasonable plans that provide economic profit without murder. These include eco-friendly tourist outlets like dolphin watches or cruises. However, these plans can only get enough momentum to become a reality if YOU are there to propel it.

Along the journey to reach this final post, you have heard many stories. You have heard my story as an aspiring scuba diver looking to speak up for the ocean. You have heard the story of Frankie, who is one of thousands of people (like me) trying to convince you to stand up and serve as an influential voice on the dolphin campaign. You have even heard the stories of individuals like Hayden Patteniere, Ric O’Barry and Elora Malama, who are taking incredible measures to ensure a safe future for dolphins and the Japanese people. But at the end of the day, it is your story that really matters. I urge you to take the knowledge you have obtained in this blog and spread it for the world to hear. It is time to protect your people. It is time to take a stand. It is time to give dolphins something real to smile about!

Thanks for reading,
Kelsey Anderson

PS.   READERS: The strength behind this campaign does not solely lie in the voice of Ichiro Fujisaki. It lies in yours as well.

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This blog is designed to be a persuasive tool for my readers (ideally including Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki) to become aware of dolphin slaughter in Taiji and join in the campaign against it. Part of this education involves understanding why the practice has reached this point to begin with.

Dolphin meat has been consumed for centuries, chiefly in smaller towns without the agriculture for other food sources. Dolphin teeth also are seen as valuable and even serve as currency in some primitive societies. Therefore, to them, dolphin hunting is not a violent blood bath. It is a way of life.

Below is a snippet (ok, a link, it cannot embed) taken from the Animal Planet TV show, Blood Dolphins, that helps convey this cultural concept. (The show, which was inspired by The Cove, follows Ric O’Barry and his son as they spread awareness and campaign against dolphin abuse. On this episode, they travel to the Solomon Islands to negotiate with the group.)

Please click HERE to view the clip! Sorry I can’t embed it into the post!

Even though this society relies on dolphin for their survival, the tribe was willing to work with Ric O’Barry and his organization to change this cultural habit. Several non-profit organizations, such as Blue Voice and Earth Island Institute, are working with these civilizations to teach them other profitable ways to make money, such as dolphin-watching tours and sustainable fishing practices. Despite the fact that this tradition has been integrated into their survival for centuries, these people are realizing that it is not a necessary or appropriate practice for this time.

That being said, Taiji is not the Solomon Islands. They are a developed and industrialized society within the second richest country in Asia. Taiji cannot make the same claim of economical limits that the Solomon tribe does.

Kihiro, Solomon Islands                  vs.                             Taiji, Japan

Most of the Taiji people are unaware that dolphin slaughter is a common practice.  O’Barry went out into the streets of Taiji and asked 100 residents about dolphin slaughter. All 100 had no idea. Taiji cannot make the same claim of cultural essence that the Solomon tribe makes.

The Taiji people have not been welcoming to viewers who express curiosity about this issue. Politicians look their other way when asked to speak on the topic. Giant warning signs surround the Cove area. Fishermen yell and threaten anyone who approaches the area as well. Protests over The Cove have gotten so agressive that some screenings were cancelled. Taiji has not created the image that the Solomon tribe has. In fact, they almost act as if they are trying to cover the issue up (out of shame or embarrassment, perhaps?)

One of the biggest criticisms of this campaign is that these egotistical Americans are not respecting Japanese culture.  Well, to be honest, I am yet to be convinced that this practice even has a strong cultural root in Taiji, Japan. But even if this is the case, it does not mean it is right. There are other means of economic profit that does not involve endangering the Japanese people as well as destroying a beautiful species. Even though dolphin slaughter was accepted centuries ago, the 21st century is not a place where it is appropriate or necessary.

A majority of humans are omnivores, and as such, we include some sort of meat in our diet to provide us with appropriate nutrients. Slaughterhouses around the world are designed to butcher animals in order to supply this need. So what makes The Cove in Taiji, Japan any different?  Why should dolphins deserve to be treated with any more rights than the cows, chickens, or pigs that many of us eat daily?

Much behaviorial and anatomical research has been conducted on the intelligence of the dolphin in comparison to that of our own. The results have proven that dolphins are the world’s second most intelligent creatures after humans, with scientists suggesting “they are so bright that they should be treated as ‘non-human persons'”. Dolphins have a much larger brain than humans, which, although is not necessarily an indicator of higher intelligence, leaves greater surface area for neurons. A more accurate measure of intelligence is the “encephalisation quotient” (EQ)– or ratio of brain size to body size. A bottle-nosed dolphin’s EQ is 5.6, surpassed only by the human’s EQ of 7.4. Dolphins perceive the world through sonar experience to an extent that they are even able to distinguish a heart beating or a pregnant woman!

The social development and interaction of dolphins also parallels that of humans. Most live in groups for life, learning societal conventions from their mothers and the community. The group will even have distinct clicks and whistles that, like a name, identify each individual. A member creates relationships with their fellow dolphins, from casual friendships to romantic partners. Dolphins are the only species besides humans to have sexual intercourse for enjoyment rather than for reproductive purposes. Learn more HERE!

Dolphins are known for their social interaction with humans as well. Everyone has seen the videos of dolphins hugging, playing, and giving rides to thrilled tourists. However, dolphins are also the only known wild animals that will come to the rescue of a human being. There are many stories of dolphins ganging up around a surfer to save them from an oncoming shark. The BBC dedicated a whole episode of the TV show, Natural World, to this phenomenon. Here is the first section:

Click here to view sections 2/5, 3/5, 4/5,and  5/5

The capability to learn, remember, and pass on knowledge is another remarkable characteristic of this species. Dolphins can understand about 90 commands of American Sign Language, as well as words, sentences, and differences in word order. They can recognize their reflection in the mirror and watch TV with comprehension. One dolphin, Kelly, even figured out how to fool her trainers! When told to clean up the pool, she would hide a piece of trash under a rock in her tank. She would tear off a piece and return it to her trainer for a reward. After being given her reward, she would go back to the hiding place, tear off another piece, and start the process over again. She then taught her calves and fellow dolphins until the whole crew was showing similar behavior. Another story depicts a young dolphin seeing a human observer taking a puff of his cigarette. The dolphin sped off to his mother, swam back to the man, and released milk into the water to create the same “smoke” effect of the cigarette. Dolphins also use their intelligence to entertain themselves, as seen in this video of a dolphin blowing bubble rings:

All of this research and evidence points to one conclusion. Dolphins are in a league entirely different from that of cows, pigs, or chickens and therefore should not be treated as such. Dolphins play. They remember. They interact. They show sensitive and  protective instincts. They learn. They can even plan for the future, as seen in Kelly’s trash tactics. Therefore it is possible that they are aware of their fate when caught in The Cove.

They are a species we can relate to and learn from. They are not to be on a menu or your dinner plate.