I've been fooled, for my entire life.
Because, I thought SeaWorld was cool. I thought Dolphins lived happily in captivity. But apparently not. That's not the worse of it. I've been shown far more than I would have expected is happening.
I just watched the documentary, The Cove.
But, let's back up just a bit here....
Like many my age, and as you can see from my last blog this morning, I grew up watching and loving, the one time popular TV, "boy and his Dolphin" show, "Flipper".
A spin off from an original movie, Flipper entered our homes consciousness, giving us a new view of the oceans and the life that resided there. The man who captured and trained the Dolphins in the TV show was Ric O'Barry. In the 1960s, O'Barry helped capture and train the five wild Dolphins who shared the role of "Flipper" in the hit television series of the same name. He has since, because of that TV show, learned about Dolphins and what they are like. Aside from their being mammals, to him they are simply too intelligent to be the fodder to be harvested by Japanese fisherman.
Now, I love Japanese culture. But, they are doing the same exact thing that so has saddened me about our Western cultures. They are thinking that they are the only important species on the planet, and so hey, its okay, its just fine to kill Dolphins. They have also slaughtered the whales, now where are we?
One Japanese Dolphin harvester even mentions it in the documentary, not knowing he is being recorded surreptitiously at the slaughter site, at the secret cove, saying that when he was in Chile, he saw so many blue Whales they called them, the "clump of bamboo". The ocean "looked truly black, from whales", he said. Its not like that anymore. Whales and Dolphins have been harvested to the point of scarcity, with Whales endangered for decades.
In the documentary, O'Barry pointed out the lives Dolphins live in captivity. He says that at SeaWorld, they feed the Dolphins digestive aides because they are so stressed out doing their daily shows. He also says that the "smile" Dolphins are so well known for, are just by design of their mouths and they are not smiling at all.
When a SeaWorld sponsored event was to have O'Barry as a guest speaker, they allegedly had him pulled at the last minute; also allegedly, for the reason that O'Barry speaks against Dolphins being kept in any kind of captivity, which goes counter to what SeaWorld professes about their Dolphins' lives.
I think a lot of the Japanese understanding of Dolphins is pretty much summed up by one official who asked at one point in the documentary, "What's so special about these fish?" First, they aren't spending the time with them (alive) so as to actually find out; and secondly, they are not fish, to begin with. They are after all, mammals. Like people. Like, us.
Perhaps that isn't much of an argument when you consider what other animals that are also mammals: cats, dogs, primates, bears, etc. Mammals are a class of vertebrate, air-breathing animals whose females are characterized by mammary glands, and both males and females are characterized by hair (and/or fur), three middle ear bones used in hearing, and a neocortex region in the brain.
A common misconception is that Dolphins are fish. Yet, they meet all the requirements for being mammals (also, Whales and Porpoises are aquatic mammals). Dolphins live in the water, but are air-breathing and warm-blooded animals. They do have a small amount of hair located right next to the blowhole. Also, instead of fur, Dolphins have blubber, lending to their streamlined form to more easily slice through water.
Another feature of Dolphin anatomy that indicates them as mammals is their womb. A Greek phrase translates Dolphin's name as "womb fish" because they give birth to live young rather than laying eggs.
Its no secret that Japan has long continued whaling, even after international, world wide bans on it. Through a loop hole in the ban, they are killing whales for "Scientific Research" purposes. But its blatantly obvious this is not the case (see, Whale wars for more information).
So if the ban is not enough of a reason to not kill Dolphins, people have been absorbing mercury from them, as they have been from their environments, for decades or probably much longer. Industry and societies have dumped waste into the oceans, and have found their way into Dolphins and other sea life. In eating them, plenty of Japanese have suffered the effects, all the way down to birth defects. Japan is well aware of this now and have taken steps to avoid this, and are regularly monitoring it.
Why isn't there an organization to protect Dolphins, and other water borne mammals? Supposedly there are, as they explore in the documentary. But they have not been effective either. Not to mention, some other small, basically powerless countries have sided with Japan. Mostly I've seen this happen when a country wants their own freedom to continue questionable practices.
Blood in the water.
The most telling and dramatic point of the documentary is after the activists secretly plant high def cameras in the secret cove, with one under water. When the killing starts, the screen darkens and turns red, the same color much of the cove turns. It is a sickening thing to see.
At a conference, the head of Japan's department for dealing with the world regarding their questionable fishing practices, said that over the past years, they have decreased the killing time down each year.
Yet the video clearly shows, after herding them to shore, they are just repeatedly stabbing Dolphins with spears from small boats until they die or drown. Nothing humane about it, its a slaughter. They don't even bring them out of the water to kill and so have to search for any remaining bodies on the bottom of the cove using skin divers (no air tanks as its shallow where the netted in area is by the shore).
Although I appreciate cultural differences, if my wish about this could be fulfilled, they would stop this killing immediately. Of course, we can always hope the governments of the world do something about this. But regretfully its more likely our hope would be misplaced.
Margaret Mead once said, "Never depend upon institutions or government to solve any problem. All social movements are founded by, guided by, motivated and seen through by the passion of individuals."
So, there it is.