Striking a Balance

If you’ve ever visited an aquarium, this blood might be on your hands too
by Anna Flam -- January 27th, 2014

Lately I’ve been seeing red everywhere. Bloody, red, water.

Taiji, the small Japanese town made infamous by the Academy Award winning documentary “The Cove”, is back in the news. My news tends to be guided by a passionate and activist dive instructor crowd, so in case Taiji might as well be Timbuktu in your world here’s a quick summary:



Basically, a small group of fishermen in Japan are herding thousands of dolphins into a small cove, picking out a handful of pretty ones for the aquarium industry, and slaughtering the rest. The hunt is mainly driven by the aquarium trade. Since becoming aware of the issue I now avoid aquariums showing large wild-caught creatures.

Most Japanese were not aware of the slaughter until recently. Meat from slaughtered dolphins is generally passed off as whale. Dolphins, unlike whales, are apex predators and therefore their meat is full of mercury. Genetic testing of whale meat in Japanese supermarkets shows that much of it is unhealthy dolphin meat — although I definitely don’t condone eating whale either.



Taiji’s hunt is horrific, unnecessary, and unhealthy.  However, I think the charismatic nature of dolphins, and the compelling imagery of the blood-soaked cove, is making Taiji overshadow other oceanic conservation nightmares.


Western Australia Shark Cull

Due to a few recent shark attacks Western Australia recently started a shark cull in a completely unscientific attempt to reduce attacks. Even former shark attack victims are protesting the cull.

You’re still more likely to be killed by an icicle or a vending machine than a shark anyway.

Sharks are friends... at least I think so.

Sharks are friends… at least I think so.

Bluefin Tuna

This is not a new issue. Bluefin tuna have been severely overfished for years now. Yet despite facing a far greater threat of extinction, and possessing similar mercury-related health risks to dolphins, they are ignored. If only they possessed the happy dolphin smile then maybe more people would pay attention.

Continued attention and pressure on these shocking global conservation issues will hopefully stop such disastrous and reckless slaughters someday. Right now, I hope to get these stories spread more broadly than my somewhat insular diver circles.

The Cove is definitely worth watching in full, and you can rent the movie for $2 here:

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