Immediate Help Needed: Keep Whales and Dolphins Out of Captivity


March 5, 2015


NOTE: I think it important that form letters and emails be avoided and that the calls not be identified with an organization to help prevent reactions from legislators who will vote against anything “animal”.

Immediate Help Needed: Keep Whales and Dolphins Out of Captivity

Who: All Washington State residents, any age. Young people who do not want to see whales and dolphins in captivity are encouraged to call when their parents do.

What: Contact your legislators. Washington State Legislature House Bill 2115 would prohibit captivity of whales, dolphins and porpoise for entertainment and exploitation. It is under attack and being blocked from leaving the Rules Committee which decides if a bill will proceed to debate and vote by the full Washington State House of Representatives.

When: Now. All bills must be voted out of the House by Wednesday or they die.


a)      If your Representative is on the Rules Committee, call their office or email them.

b)      Call your Representatives who are not on the Rules Committee. If many people call their Representatives, your voice will flow to the Rules Committee.

c)      If you need to find who your Representatives are in Washington State, go here.

Please act now!

Should dolphin hunting be completely banned?


Vote in Poll Here:

Dolphin meat is part of the cuisine of some countries, however this is not the only driver for dolphin hunts. Dolphins are often hunted to be sold to aquatic parks and dolphinariums for shows and swimming courses. Dolphin hunting has become highly controversial and has raised international criticism, not only due to the cruelty toward dolphins but also to the possible health risk that the often polluted meat causes. Despite criticisms, thousands of dolphins are caught in drive hunts each year. Many of them are killed for their meat but many others end up in dolphinariums and aquatic parks. The Taiji dolphin drive hunt is probably the most famous of those traditional hunts and provide income for hundred of local residents. The residents of Taiji and the surrounding area have been refining whaling techniques since the 17th century and now run annually a large scale dolphin drive hunt.

Is dolphin hunting following traditional methods justifiable? What if dolphins are not slaughtered but sold to aquatic parks? Do dolphins deserve a special treatment compared to other animals? Should dolphin hunting be completely banned?

Animal rights protestors send ‘deafening’ message to Japan to stop Taiji dolphin slaughter


Animal rights protesters demand end to the killing 

Published: Mon, November 10, 2014

Up to 1,000 furious protesters demanded an end to the dolphin ‘slaughter’

Up to a thousand furious demonstrators gathered outside the Japanese embassy in London to protest the “atrocious” killing of up to 20,000 dolphins, whales and porpoises in the country every year.

The majority of the creatures – including several thousand at the notorious Taiji Cove – are killed for meat but some are captured for zoos and aquariums.

Hunts are conducted between September and March. This year the Japanese government authorised 16,000 deaths.

The crowd, many with their hands covered in fake dolphin blood, chanted “Taiji: Set them free” and “Stop the dolphin slaughter” at the building, which was surrounded by police.

Lead activist Richard O’Barry who starred in the award winning documentary The Cove said: “It was the largest demonstration we’ve seen.

“We wanted to get the attention of the government in Tokyo and let them know that this is not acceptable. They are not their dolphins to kill.

“This is all about putting external pressure on Japan.”

Dolphin Speak: Did a Dolphin Really Say “Seaweed”?


”I don’t see a fundamental white line that distinguishes us from other animals.” Dr. Terrence Deacon
Dolphin tool use influences a population’s genetic structure and they may talk.
Dolphins are unquestionably highly charismatic animals. They have unique and sophisticated communication skills and also are known to use tools, including sponges to protect their sensitive beaks, when foraging for food.

During the past two weeks I came across two extremely interesting articles about these crafty cetaceans. The first, titled “Dolphin whistle instantly translated by computer” by Hal Hodson, considers the possibility that dolphins are able to whistle the same words we use to denote an object. The print version of the latter essay is called “Decoding dolphin.” The second, called “Cultural transmission of tool use combined with habitat specializations leads to fine-scale genetic structure in bottlenose dolphins” by Anna Kopps of the University of New South Wales and her colleagues, focuses on their use of protective sponges during foraging and its effect on the genetic structure of dolphin populations.

Say what? Did you really whistle seaweed?

Denise Herzing is well known for her and her team’s long-term field research on Atlantic spotted dolphins. Among many aspects of the amazing lives of dolphins, she has long been interested in dolphin communication and whether or not they and other animals use language to communicate with one another or can use language to communicate with us.

While it’s too early to know for sure, there is compelling evidence that some animals are language users (see, for example, a brief review of the research by Dr. Con Slobochikoff on prairie dogs). I found Hal Hodson’s essay called “Decoding dolphin” to be an extremely interesting, stimulating, and easy read. To wit, and I encourage you to take a few minutes to read it, Mr. Hodson begins: “IT was late August 2013 and Denise Herzing was swimming in the Caribbean. The dolphin pod she had been tracking for the past 25 years was playing around her boat. Suddenly, she heard one of them say, ‘Sargassum'”. And, what did Dr. Herzing exclaim? “‘I was like whoa! We have a match. I was stunned.'” Dr. Herzing “was wearing a prototype dolphin translator called Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry (CHAT) and it had just translated a live dolphin whistle for the first time.” So, “When the computer picked up the sargassum whistle, Herzing heard her own recorded voice saying the word into her ear.” I, too, would have been stunned and I can’t wait for more research in this fascinating area of study.

Perhaps we are not the only animals who use language. Dr. Terrence Deacon, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, who also is an expert in animal communication, notes, “I don’t see a fundamental white line that distinguishes us from other animals.” Only time and research will tell if we’re alone in the language arena. For now it’s a good idea to keep the door wide open.

Cultural hitchhiking: Was there a “sponging Eve”?

An informative summary of the research on the genetics of tool use in dolphins living in Shark Bay in Western Australia can be found in an article called “Cultural hitchhiking: How social behavior can affect genetic makeup in dolphins.” It turns out that the culturally transmitted use of sponges—called vertical social transmission—can actually “shape the genetic makeup” of wild dolphins. Dolphins, who live deep in the bay, show mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) types called Haplotype E or Haplotype F that are inherited solely from the mother, whereas non-sponging dolphins who live in shallower water mainly show Haplotype H. All of the 22 sponging dolphins who were observed turned out to be members of one matriline and were Haplotype E.

This novel and significant discovery demonstrates a strong correlation between haplotype and habitat. According to Dr. Kopps, “Our research shows that social learning should be considered as a possible factor that shapes the genetic structure of a wild animal population.” She also notes, “For humans we have known for a long time that culture is an important factor in shaping our genetics. Now we have shown for the first time that a socially transmitted behaviour like tool use can also lead to different genetic characteristics within a single animal population, depending on which habitat they live in.” This is one of the first demonstrations of what is called “cultural hitchhiking” in nonhuman animals.

What an exciting time it is to study the behavior of nonhuman animals. Stay tuned for more on their fascinating lives.

Marc Bekoff’s latest books are Jasper’s story: Saving moon bears (with Jill Robinson; see also), Ignoring nature no more: The case for compassionate conservation (see also)and Why dogs hump and bees get depressed (see also). Rewilding our hearts: Building pathways of compassion and coexistence will be published fall 2014.

Japan takes baby steps toward a proper debate about animal rights

Photo  Jim Robertson

Photo Jim Robertson

by Philip Brasor Feb 22, 2014

On Jan. 10, convenience store chain Family Mart started selling a new bentō (boxed lunch) with a heavy-duty name to complement its hefty ¥600 price: Famima Premium Koroge Wagyu-iri Hamburger Bento, which “contains” high-quality Japanese ground beef. For an added touch of extravagance, it also came with a side of foie gras.

A month later, the company withdrew the product after receiving complaints about the foie gras, which is made from the fatty livers of geese. Animal welfare groups claim the manufacture of foie gras amounts to animal cruelty since the birds are force-fed. A Family Mart PR person told Tokyo Shimbun that the company only received 22 complaints, but that it was enough to persuade it to pull the item. The reporter hinted that the company may have actually withdrawn it due to bad sales, but in any case, it’s significant that complaints related to animal rights would be taken seriously by a Japanese business and picked up by the media. It’s not a topic that’s usually covered unless non-Japanese are involved.

Like Caroline Kennedy. The new U.S. ambassador to Japan recently attracted media scrutiny for a tweet expressing her and the U.S. government’s objection to the dolphin “drive hunt” taking place in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture. Ever since “The Cove” won the Oscar for best documentary of 2009, the world has come down on the whaling town for its yearly cull, which involves scaring dolphins into a cove, separating some for sale to aquariums and marine shows, and killing others for food. Taiji says the condemnation is unfair, since this is how the town makes its living. People who object are hypocrites because humans raise cows and pigs for slaughter. What’s the difference?

Protests are viewed by the Japanese press as a form of cultural bias: Those who complain think dolphins are special, more intelligent than other animals and thus should not be killed for food. But recent editorials in the Tokyo and Asahi Shimbuns, prompted by the Kennedy tweet, downplay the cultural-chasm theory. Asahi says it is more about “how we want to live as human beings.” Why are dolphins special? The feeling is that there is “less distance” between our two species because dolphins are biologically equipped to “communicate,” thus giving them the means to display “intelligence.” And the more an animal “fulfills the condition of being human,” the greater its right to be treated the same way, meaning they should have similar rights as people do in a given society.

However, the logical pillars of this argument as erected by the Asahi were designed to be knocked down. The paper interviewed Koichi Tagami, a lecturer on ethics at Rissho University, who says human rights stem from self-consciousness, which implies “independent reasoning.” If other animals manifest self-consciousness in some way, they deserve to have their rights protected, including the right not to have pain inflicted on them. So if we grant those rights to dolphins, Tagami argues, then all animals that feel pain should have that right, including cows and pigs. Even robots, he reasons, have the right to object to being “controlled” by humans.

The editorial quotes other scholars who point out differing attitudes toward animals in other countries, and how certain animals are protected while others aren’t depending on the culture. The point seems to be that it is impossible to formulate legal guidelines that cover all aspects of animal welfare when there is no global consensus on what is basically a philosophical issue.

But the Asahi’s academic approach conveniently avoids touching on the most important aim of the animal welfare movement, which is to prevent suffering. Tagami’s theory about freedom from pain is merely a talking point. Though the average person may find advocacy of animal rights too intense at times, the worldwide trend is toward less suffering. Slaughterhouses in Europe must anesthetize livestock before they are killed. Most in the U.S. slaughter animals only after they are stunned. Last week, Denmark outlawed meat-processing techniques used for halal and kosher food, which dictate that animals be conscious when they are slaughtered. The move was met with condemnation from Muslim and Jewish groups. Even nonreligious people wondered about the law after a Danish zoo killed a perfectly healthy giraffe and fed it to lions because the giraffe could not be bred. Its genetic material was already over-represented in the captive environment.

Tokyo Shimbun’s editorial enters this realm by tying animal welfare to commerce. What’s cruel is the mass-production methods of most meat-processing businesses, which are designed to be cheaper and more efficient. Filmmaker Aya Hanabusa made a movie about a Japanese butcher that showed how he raised his livestock from birth and personally killed the animals before processing their meat for sale. She told Tokyo Shimbun that before you can call dolphin culls cruel, you have to apply the same ethical criteria to animals raised “as industrial products.”

In this regard, Taiji fishermen say they have adopted “slaughterhouse methods” to make sure the dolphins they kill “die instantly,” an assertion that anyone who has seen “The Cove” may have a problem with. In any event, they invited Kennedy to witness the cull and see for herself, since what galled them was her suggestion that it is “inhumane.”

Semantics mean something here, and both sides stretch points to their advantage. Taiji claims outsiders are interfering with their “traditional way of life,” but the town didn’t start the drive hunt until 1969, when it needed live animals for its recently opened whaling museum. The anti-cull activists, on the other hand, insist that dolphin meat is dangerous due to high levels of mercury, a contention that is incidental to the cruelty argument. In a world where meat-eating is common, it’s unlikely either side is going to budge unless the Japanese media joins the discussion in a meaningful way.

What YOU Can Do To Help Taiji Dolphins

The slaughter of 20,000 dolphins, porpoises, and small whales occurs in Japan each year. Starting on September 1st and continuing through March of the next year, fishermen herd whole families of small cetaceans into shallow bays and mercilessly stab and drown them to death.

This annual slaughter of dolphins was virtually unknown until 2003 when Sea Shepherd globally released covertly obtained film and photographs of the now infamous bloody “Cove” in a village called Taiji. Beginning in 2010, and continuing to this day, Sea Shepherd has an ongoing presence of volunteers standing watch on site at the Cove. They are The Cove Guardians.

With your help, we will continue to pressure Japan to end this cruel and destructive slaughter of dolphins. We are passionate, dedicated, and committed – it may take time, but determination will win for the dolphins in Taiji.

We can all make a difference. If you would like your voices to be heard, please contact the respective representatives to tell them the massacre must stop!

Please help us end this slaughter. Your opinion is important – apathy allows this barbaric “tradition” to continue.


Consider applying to be a Cove Guardian and joining our team in Taiji. This position requires dedication, time, and resources. You must pay for your travel, lodging, food, and all other personal expenses.

Application process:

•Send e-mail to and express your interest.

•You will be sent an information packet that includes links to the Onshore Volunteer Application and a supplemental questionnaire for Cove Guardians.

•You will submit that package either by electronic or physical mail.

•You will be notified if you are selected and provided more detailed information to help you in booking your travels to and stay in Japan.

Don’t buy a ticket!
A ticket purchased to a dolphin show buys blood in Taiji

The captive dolphin entertainment industry makes a lot of money from dolphin suffering and death. The way to shut them down is to take the profit out of their operations. By ending the demand for their shows, we can sink them economically.

Do not support these entertainment venues. Terminate your season passes. Encourage your friends and family to stay away from them. Do not include them in your holiday packages or cruises. Contact the parks and let them know how you feel about dolphins kept in captivity. Educate others on the link between the captive dolphin industry and the Taiji dolphin slaughter. Do not participate in captive dolphin programs like “swimming with the dolphins”

The Ceta-Base “Phinventory” is a list of captive dolphins world wide.


Spread the Word

Follow Operation Infinite Patience on social media and share with your friends and family. Ask them to help us end this atrocity.

Cove Guardian Facebook
Sea Shepherd USA Facebook
Cove Guardian Twitter
Sea Shepherd USA Twitter

Contact the Authorities

Help us end the brutal Taiji dolphin slaughter by voicing your concerns to the authorities in Taiji as well as the Japanese Embassy, US Embassy to Japan, US and Japanese Ambassadors to the UN, and the US Senate members of the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Prime Minister Shinzo- Abe
Cabinet Office, Government of Japan
1-6-1 Nagata-cho
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. 100-8914 JAPAN

Online comment form #1:
Online comment form #2:

Japanese Embassies Worldwide:
Websites of Japanese Embassies, Consulates and Permanent Missions

List of Embassies and Consulates-General in Japan:
List of Embassies and Consulates-General in Japan

US Embassy in Japan:
Caroline Kennedy – Ambassador of the United States to Japan
Telephone: 011-81-3-3224-5000
Fax: 011-81-3-3505-1862
Send E-mail to the U.S. Embassy in Japan
Please thank Caroline Kennedy for her defense of the dolphins

Japanese UN Representatives:
H.E. Mr Kazuyoshi Umemoto – Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

H.E. Mr. Jun Yamazaki – Deputy Representative of Japan to the UN

United States UN Representative:
Samantha Power – US Ambassador to the UN
Samantha Power’s Twitter
United States Mission to the United Nations Contact Form

US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations:
US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Wakayama Prefecture Office, Fishery Division:
Telephone: +81-73-441-3010
Fax: +81-73-432-4124

International Whaling Commission (IWC)
The Red House,
135 Station Road,
Cambridgeshire CB24 9NP, UK.
Tel: +44 (0) 1223 233 971
Fax: +44 (0) 1223 232 87

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) / Convention on Migratory Species (CMP)
UNEP/CMS Secretariat
Platz der Vereinten Nationen 1
53113 Bonn, Germany
Tel: (+49 228) 815 2401
Fax: (+49 228) 815 2449

Mayor – Taiji Town Hall:
Telephone: +81-73-559-2335

Taiji Fishermen’s Union:
Telephone: +81-73-559-2340
Fax: +81-735-59-2821

Hotel Dolphin Resort/Dolphin Base:
Telephone: +81-0735-59-3514
Fax: +81-0735-59-2810

Japan Fisheries Public Content Form:
Contact the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries

WAZA: The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums

IMATA: The International Marine Mammal Trainers’ Association

Photo  Jim Robertson

Photo Jim Robertson

BBC filmmaker Martyn Stewart locked up in Japan accused of being ‘eco-terrorist’

BBC filmmaker Martyn Stewart locked up in Japan accused of being ‘eco-terrorist’

Martyn Stewart posted this picture on his Facebook from Osaka airport in Japan Martyn Stewart posted this picture on his Facebook from Osaka airport in Japan

Kate Nelson Thursday, February 13, 2014 1:52 PM

 BBC filmmaker Martyn Stewart who documents the bloody dolphin hunts in Taiji is reportedly locked up at Osaka airport claiming he’s accused of being an ‘eco-terrorist’.

Stewart, who films documentaries about the dolphin hunts in Taiji, said his conditions and the way he has been treated was ‘nothing short of criminal’.

He posted on his Facebook account: “I am locked in a cell room at Osaka airport waiting on an appeal to the high minister regarding my entry into Japan.

“I’m accused of being sea shepherd and an eco terrorist. My footage is not liked in Japan apparently and have been accused of assaulting members of the public.

“In 4 years of being here for the dolphins I have maintained the law and abided by their rules. My words and pictures did the rest. The government of Japan will do anything to protect the rights of the fishermen of Taiji and the barbaric treatment of the animals involved.

“Please share far and wide to bring awareness to this corrupt government and those that want to continue to brutally treat these amazing animals.”

Stewart has visited Japan several times to film the dolphin hunts in Taiji where hundreds of animals are wrestled into nets. Some are killed for meat, others are trapped and sold to aquariums.

Japanese fisherman say the annual hunt is part of their culture.

Writing on his blog last year, he said: “What I learnt from these visits was that we (westerners) cannot stop this war on the oceans. Japan and most of its people have to end this and in some way, make them believe it was their idea. Pressure from outsiders only gets their goat and they become stubborn. I got the impression that if you tell the fishermen to end this atrocity, they tried harder to kill. They are now actually being blasé about the capturing and killing. Yes, tarpaulin is still being used heavily but they are not as vigilant in stopping people from seeing the odd dead dolphin or tail draped outside of the boats that carry the corpses to the butcher house anymore.”

Celebrities Want to Tie Trade Pact to Dolphin Hunt

WASHINGTON February 6, 2014 (AP)

Associated Press

A group of American celebrities and other activists want President Barack Obama to refuse to sign an international trade agreement until Japan bans the capture and slaughter of dolphins in the fishing town of Taiji.

Backing the effort are Oscar-winning performers Sean Penn, Cher, Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Charlize Theron as well as TV stars Ellen DeGeneres and William Shatner, and many others.

The Oscar-winning 2009 documentary “The Cove” chronicled the dolphin roundup in Taiji and helped spark protests over the annual hunt and ensuing slaughter. Japanese law allows a hunting season for dolphins, and fishermen defend it as a tradition.

In a letter dated Wednesday that included dozens of names, hip-hop producer Russell Simmons asked the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, to urge Obama not to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, until Japan bans the hunt. Kennedy recently tweeted that she was deeply concerned about the dolphin hunt, which has drawn widespread news coverage.

Simmons’ letter said those signing don’t oppose the TPP but seek to make stopping the dolphin hunt a key factor in negotiations. The free trade agreement is being negotiated by 12 nations that account for about 40 percent of global gross domestic product.

The letter said that corporations have spent the past two years crafting language in the TPP “to serve their interests.”

“Should human compassion not be afforded the same privilege as business interests?” the letter stated. It added: “The world is looking to you, Ambassador Kennedy, and to our government to send a clear message to Japan that this atrocity must be banned now.”

After Kennedy’s tweet, a State Department spokeswoman told reporters that the U.S. was “concerned with both the sustainability and the humaneness of the Japanese dolphin hunts.”

Simmons said more than 600 dolphins have been slaughtered since the hunting season360_yangtze_dolphin_0810 began Sept. 1. Anti-hunt activists reported that dozens of fishermen helped to herd about 250 dolphins into a cove one day last month. Of those, about 40 were eventually killed for their meat. At least 50 others were kept alive for sale to aquariums and others, and the remaining dolphins were released.

Court Finds Feds Violated Endangered Species Act in Pacific Northwest When Authorizing Navy Sonar

Southern Resident killer whale with calf

Photo by NOAA

[I can relate to the severity of this is of particular issue since my hearing has been permanently damaged by loud anthropogenic, electronic and/or mechanical noises. Over the years I’ve developed tinnitus–a permanent ringing in the ears which can increase in volume and potentially drive the sufferer crazy or even suicidal. I can imagine that this is the kind of thing that’s happening to marine mammals, who depend on their sensitive hearing for navigation and communication, when they strand themselves onshore.

There are no tests that I know of to show whether whales and dolphins are suffering from tinnitus-like hearing damage, so the navy will likely ignore this problem as long as they can get away with it.

I’ve found dolphins, sea lions and whales stranded on the beaches of Washington and Oregon, and it’s certainly possibly that these strandings are the result of the navy’s ungodly loud and disruptive sonar testing.]


A federal court has found that the government violated the Endangered Species Act when permitting Navy training activities in the Northwest Training Range Complex—a California-sized training area extending from Washington’s border with Canada down to Northern California.  The decision requires the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to reassess its permits to ensure that the Navy’s training complies with the Endangered Species Act’s requirements for the area’s endangered Southern Resident killer whales, blue whales, humpback whales, fin whales, sei whales, sperm whales, and Steller sea lions.  The government can no longer ignore science—that is developing at a brisk pace—showing that the Navy’s use of sonar is more harmful to whales and dolphins than previously thought.

The Navy’s use of mid-frequency active sonar can kill, injure, and disturb marine mammals.  The Navy and NMFS accept this fact, projecting 650,000 instances of injury and harassment to whales, dolphins, and porpoises over five years of activities in the Pacific Northwest.  Sonar has caused or been associated with multiple stranding events of whales and other marine mammals around the world.  NRDC and other concerned organizations (InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth Friends of the San Juans, and People for Puget Sound) challenged the Fisheries Service’s permitting of the Navy’s activities in the Pacific Northwest in January 2012.  With its ruling yesterday afternoon, the court found that the agency’s approval of the Navy’s activities ignored the best available science showing that marine mammals are far more sensitive to sonar that can cause hearing loss and other injuries.

As we’ve seen over the past decade in permit approvals, the Navy and NMFS have been working overtime to minimize the nature and extent of harm to marine mammals caused by the Navy’s use of sonar—twisting, turning, dodging, and simply ignoring evidence right before them.  Now, the science is catching up and exposing these machinations for what they always were: “ends justify the means” attempts to let the Navy continue with business as usual, unencumbered by any serious obligation to protect whales and dolphins from significant harms.  NRDC and our allies will continue to call on this agency to find ways to minimize harm to marine mammals from the Navy’s training.  This court ruling should remind NMFS that its preeminent obligation is to endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, not to applicants seeking to conduct harmful activities regardless of the consequences.