News of Japan’s dolphin hunting season seems to be everywhere this week, but here’s a quick rundown for those who’ve missed out.
Japanese “fisherman” catch thousands of dolphins of which a small number are sold to aquariums and theme parks like Sea World. They butcher the rest of the catch and sell it as seafood. (The six-month season, which started September 1st, claims an average of over 20,000 dolphins annually.) Dolphins have unsafe concentrations of mercury in their bodies due to sitting at the top of their food chain. This makes the meat unsafe to eat, as well as being highly unethical to most. Ric O’Barry, animal trainer from the 60’s TV show Flipper turned animal activist, has spent over forty years attempting to free the animals from captivity and put an end to dolphin hunts. He is currently in Japan having delivered a petition with 1.7 million signatures asking that the Japanese government outlaw the practice. O’Barry’s 2009 Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove” is currently running on both Animal Planet and Planet Green and is also available through Netflix’s streaming service. There are a few parts in the film which are tough for animal lovers, but it is highly informative and very well done. O’Barry’s latest project “Blood Dolphins” began airing August 27 on Animal Planet.