If you haven't yet seen the movie The Cove, prepare for a crash course in its subject matter.
I don't want to spoil it for you but the 2009 Academy Award-winning documentary incited global condemnation after shining a spotlight on the annual dolphin hunt that takes place in Taiji, Japan.
A hunt that is underway right now-at this moment.
The Japanese government has set the killing quota for this year's hunt, which spans the six months between September 1st and the end of February, at 1,820 various species-numbers comparable to the hunt last year.
In addition to the death toll, one hundred and fifty bottlenose dolphins have been pre-purchased by marine parks around the world and will be hand selected by marine-life trainers.
The Chicago-based International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association (IMATA) allows its members to participate in the bloody hunt, claiming it is a professional organization and not an animal advocacy entity.
In an act of utter irony, the IMATA statement that condones trainer participation in the Taiji hunt claims that, "the well-being of the animals in the daily care of IMATA members is their first priority," in the same breath.
Apparently they believe that well-trained professionals can better attend to the dolphins being hunted and slaughtered.
According to their website, "A caregiver is welcomed by IMATA even if s/he participates in the selection and collection of live animals [like the dolphins chosen from the Taiji hunt] on the premise that those animals will benefit as s/he is exposed to the most current best practices in animal care and training. This helps to ensure the well-being of animals living in zoological settings around the world."
I'm sure the dolphins are relieved that their deaths and captures are attended by competent animal care professionals.
Beyond the number of dolphins killed and captured, thousands more will be injured or orphaned.
Taiji fishermen defend the annual hunt as a tradition and the dolphins are butchered to be eaten.
Megumi Sasaki, a Japanese filmmaker, directed her own movie, A Whale Of A Tale, in answer to The Cove in an effort to bring balance to the story of the hunt.
An article in The Japan Times explains that, "As she [Sasaki] sees it, the idea that dolphins should not be killed and eaten is one the world has accepted, and suddenly this small town — which has been hunting sea mammals for 400 years because it is not blessed with arable land — had to confront that mindset unprepared."
The Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums banned the buying and selling of dolphins from the hunt in 2015, a result of pressure applied by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums-though this does not align with the National Geographic's report of the pre-sold animals included in this year's slaughter.
These animals attractions will remain open so long as visitors continue to fork over admission and because of this, I strongly urge you to abstain from attending their facilities, or any animal attraction that doesn't solely work to rescue and rehabilitate.
If you'd like to voice your opposition to the Taiji dolphin hunts, you can sign the petition organized by the International Marine Mammal Project and addressed to Taiji Mayor, Kazutaka Sangen and Prime Minister Abe.
Or visit Ric O' Barry's Dolphin Project Take Action page for more ways to stop the hunt, including the opportunity to join him in Taiji.