UPDATE ON DOLPHIN SLAUGHTER

by Editor on September 4, 2009

Bottlenose Dolphin. Photo:Wikimedia Commons

Bottlenose Dolphin. Photo:Wikimedia Commons

In the wake of a movie called “The Cove,” media have descended on the town of Taiji, Japan for the start of dolphin-slaughter season. What they’ve found—or haven’t found—has been encouraging.

Wildlife News & Facts

Well, it seems like maybe the good guys do win one once in a while.

Or at the very least, Richard O’Barry, the man behind “The Cove,” a recent movie about the horrific dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan, has some seemingly very good news to report. O’Barry arrived in Taiji a few days ago for the start of the dolphin-slaughter season, and he had some European and US media in tow.

What they all found was nothing. Nobody was killing dolphins or seemed to be preparing to kill dolphins. It looked as if O’Barry’s movie perhaps had had its intended result of ending the annual mass killing of dolphins.

O’Barry added he was encouraged that some of the Japanese media had also shown up, because in past years they had refused to cover the story. He said there were police on hand for his arrival inTaiji, but that they were friendly to him—a marked change from when he was in Japan for the (mostly clandestine) filming of the movie and was justifiably afraid of being arrested.

One of the movie’s consequences was that the city of Broome, Australia, suspended its sister-city relationship with Taiji. Apparently, there’s nothing like an international spotlight on people’s bad behavior to make them change their ways. Let’s hope the slaughter doesn’t resume once the world shifts it attention elsewhere.

Read O’Barry’s own account of his most recent visit to Japan here.

And click here to visit “The Cove” website.

A Harvest Of Wolves

A few wolves have been killed already in Idaho. Click here to see the Idaho wildlife agency’s official wolf-hunt map, complete with how many can be “harvested” in each section of the state, as well as how many have already been “harvested.” It doesn’t seem like they’re very diligent about updating their data, but the map and accompanying table are interesting, nonetheless.

One point that Ralph Maughan has brought up has kept me thinking: Since wolves lead such highly structured social lives, what happens to a pack when its alpha leaders get “harvested?” Does the pack disintegrate, or do new leaders merely rise to the top in an orderly fashion?

At the very least, one would expect fighting for dominance among members of the pack once the old leaders are gone. And you would not expect any of this would be good for a pack that was getting ready to go into winter. Would there be further, unintended mortality because of it? I doubt there exist any good data on this . . . but we’ll doubtlessly be getting some in the coming months, won’t we? —P.G.

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