In Taiji, Japan, there is an annual large-scale hunt for dolphins. They are forced into a cove and then either slaughtered to be sold for their meat or they’re taken into captivity to be forced to perform for the entertainment of humans.
A recent devastating video taken at the cove by the Dolphin Project showed a pod of dolphins comforting each other after being trapped in the cove until their eventual slaughter and capture. The dolphins that weren’t slaughtered but were taken into captivity are sent to marine park facilities where they are trained to perform unnatural tricks and live in a tiny pool.
The last dolphin in a U.S. facility to be acquired from these Japanese drive fisheries was named Kina and she was held captive at the Sea Life Park Hawaii in Oahu. Kina was a false killer whale, which despite the confusing name is a breed of dolphins.According to the Keiko Conservation, Kina’s pod was herded into a shallow area near Iki Island in Japan in 1987. She was amongst those selected to be sold to a dolphinarium and the rest of her family was slaughtered.
After her capture, she worked for the United States Navy for six years before being sent to the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology at Coconut Island to be used for “research.” There she was kept with two bottlenose dolphins in a sea pen. She was then sold to Sea Life Park Hawaii in 2015.
When she arrived she was “put in quarantine and held in isolation in a small concrete tank at the park.” She was kept from the shade and had no stimuli. After some time, some dolphins were introduced to her pen but she was still kept hidden. This is not how false killer whales live in the wild. Like other dolphin breeds, they are very social, having long-term relationships with members of their pods and even sharing meals.
Kina spent four years floating in the sun, mostly motionless until recently. Kina’s tragic story came to an end when she died just a few days ago. She was the 141st cetacean to die at Sea Life Park Hawaii. Her story is heartbreaking. She was used by humans for their own purposes since 1987. No animal deserves such treatment, but it’s especially cruel knowing that such an intelligent, social creature was kept in captivity and isolation.
If you are feeling devastated right now, take comfort in knowing that you can take action to help other dolphins. Sign this petition calling for an end to the Taiji dolphin slaughter.
This article was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 25 October 2019.