Will Taiji again capture orcas?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2007:
“The town of Taiji plans to capture orcas in order to secure
financial resources,” charges Sha-Chi JP, a Japanese-based web
site “dedicated to the Taiji-5 orcas captured on February 7, 1997.”
The site is posted by volunteers Seiji Inagaki, Nanami Kurasawa,
Yoshiko Nagatsuka, Yoshimi Takahashi, and Carla Hernandez, with
the help of OrcaLab, the British Columbia-based project of
anti-captivity marine mammologist Paul Spong.
Taiji is globally notorious as the site of dolphin massacres.
Herded into shallow water by boat, the dolphins are confined with
nets, then hacked to death. The toll exceeds 1,000 dolphins per
winter. Most are of small species. The 1997 orca captures were
Originally undertaken because Taiji fishers blamed dolphins
for declining catches, the massacres have over the past 20 years
become one of the world’s leading sources of captive dolphins.
Dolphins for exhibition are selected before the killing starts by
personnel from the Taiji Whale Museum, according to Dolphin Project
founder Ric O’Barry, who has repeatedly visited Taiji to witness the
proceedings and lead protests.
The Taiji Whale Museum reportedly sells or leases the
dolphins at $10,000 to $45,000 each, depending on age, gender, and
species. Most of the clients until recently were in Asia, but in
early 2007 O’Barry issued a global alert that the Ocean World
Adventure Aquatic Park in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, was
preparing to import 12 dolphins from Taiji. The deal was apparently
indefinitely delayed after 43 animal and environmental organizations
and the Dominican Academy of Sciences asked Dominican president
Leonel Fernandez to block it.
Only two of the Taiji-5 orcas who inspired the formation of
Sha-Chi JP are still alive: a female at the Port of Nagoya Aquarium
and a female at Izumito Sea Paradise. Both orcas legally belong to
the Taiji Whale Museum, but were sent elsewhere on five-year
“breeding loans.” The deals were approved by the Japanese fisheries
ministry “to rescue the Whale Museum from financial difficulties,”
Sha-Chi JP believes.
Sha-Chi JP speculates that fishers working on behalf of the
Taiji Whale Museum will try to capture mates for the two females,
since the breeding loans are soon to expire.