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Dolphin On Rye? Japanese Dolphin Hunt Starts

What sounds barbaric to western countries, is a casual day of fishing in Japan. The Japanese governement allows 20,000 dolphins to be killed a year in the fishing industry. It is widely known that dolphins are extremely intelligent mammals, that are self-aware, show humor, love and even respond to human emotion, as if emotion travels in water on waves (dating back to the ancient Greeks) by saving humans in peril.

Fishermen hunt dolphins about every day in Taiji, a town of about 3,000 in southwestern Japan that juts into the Pacific Ocean. The sounds of waves crashing onto a rocky shore mingle in Taiji with the screeching wails of dolphins being chopped and hacked to death by fishermen.

That disgusts Ric O'Barry, a 68-year-old retired dolphin trainer from Miami, Florida, who makes a second home in Taiji, where he goes to unusual lengths to fight against the tide of local tradition.

O'Barry sometimes dresses as a woman or wears a large surgical mask to disguise his Western identity on trips to spots overlooking the ocean. He prowls the cliffs with a video camera, hoping to catch fishermen in the act with footage that could stir emotions and raise awareness in the West.

" It takes a very long time to die. They bleed to death. And some of them are dragged in the boats with hooks while they're still alive," he says. "Many of them are gutted while they're still alive."

Looming beyond questions of whether the slaughter is humane, however, are larger and more complex questions of culture and perspective.

Japanese ships crisscross southern oceans each winter to capture and kill up to 1,000 whales. Whaling is allowed under international law when done for scientific reasons, which Japan cites as the legal basis for its hunts.

Legal justifications aside, however, the whale hunts offend many people in Australia, where new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has turned up the political pressure on Japan.

His government has dispatched a customs ship to monitor and videotape the whalers. And Rudd says Australia could even file charges against Japan in an international court to try to stop the whaling.

Back in Taiji, the fishermen are well aware of the Western sentiment that motivates whaling opponents. They realize the danger to their way of life that can come with prying cameras from other countries.

Excerp from CNN

To voice your opposition to this, Visit SeaShepard.org


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