by Kayla Lewis
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Dolphins are one of the most fascinating species in all of creation. As a member of the cetacean family (that also includes whales), they are beautiful, intelligent and complex creatures with uncommon similarities to human beings. They are also the only wild animals ever known to come to human's rescue time and time again.
These sleek, skillful animals have shown signs of feeling, thinking, and loving. They seem to possess three of our favorite human qualities; humor, compassion and a care-free love for life.
Also like humans, dolphins are one of the most social species on the planet. They live in close-knit social groups called “pods”, each pod nurturing their young with great care, investing a considerable amount of time into raising every one of them.
As for communication, much like us, each dolphin has a singular voice signature with which they communicate using a sophisticated system of whistles and clicks that function as their own unique language. The more research done, the more scientists find a surprising number of genetic traits that we as humans share with these amazing underwater mammals.
There are 32 species of ocean dolphin that we know of today and 4 species of river dolphin. Each species is unique in its own way, while still sharing the basic similarities with all cousin species.
One way that dolphins differ from us humans, however, is the makeup of their brains. Dolphin brains are more convoluted than human brains, featuring more “folds” of grey matter, one of the many things that biologists consider the best evidence to higher intelligence. So basically, science lesson aside, dolphins have larger and more complex brains than us.
There are theories that dolphins need these dynamic brains to support their highly sophisticated sonar systems. You see, dolphins have what’s called “echolocation” and it basically allows them to “see” with sound.
The ocean is a dark and mysterious world under the surface. Dolphins have the ability to dive down to 100 meters (330 feet) with only one breath of air. While swimming this deep, the water surrounding them is dark and murky. Their echolocation is what allows them to travel under such circumstances.
These creatures have such powerful sonars that they can detect subtle differences in separate metal coins from large distances. How it works is quite simple and equally fascinating. When using their echolocation, a dolphin sends out a distinct click with their voice. The sound then bounces off objects and creatures within a large radius of the dolphin, who picks up each sound with their sensitive sonar. The dolphin’s brain then analyzes the vibrations to decipher size, distance and motion.
This amazing ability helps the dolphin to “see” obstacles, predators, preys, or other dolphins. However, it is also the very thing that is used to hunt, sell, and/or kill these exotic creatures.
Right now, dolphins are more endangered than ever before and it’s not because of other predators in the sea. These beautiful, playful, and intelligent animals are being hunted, kidnapped, and slaughtered by none other than our very own people.
In Taiji, Japan, right in the very center of town, there is a remote cove that’s surrounded by barbed wire and “Keep Out” signs. In it lies a dark, sinister, and revolting reality. This secret Japanese cove is a sort of natural fortress. It is protected on three of its sides by steep, rocky cliffs. One of the entrances is protected by a long series of tall spiked gates, topped with barbed wire and laser ribbons. The two remaining entrances are both tunnels, each protected by guards and their attack dogs.
Every year, from September to April, the water of this cove turns to a deep red on a daily basis, polluted by the blood of one of God’s most wonderful creations: the dolphin.
This sickening process begins every day when Japanese dolphin “drivers” line their whaling boats up outside of this cove, making sure there is enough distance between them and the entrance to hold plenty of innocent creatures. Then, using large poles, every boat begins making loud clanking sounds underwater, creating a giant wall of deafening sound.
With the amazing sonar that dolphins have, this sound is literally painful. They swim away from it, as fast as they can, urging their family and their young towards the cove and away from the potential danger.
By the time the nets are strung up for the day, there could be a hundred or more dolphins, young and old, trapped in this cove. In waters tinted with the blood of that mornings kill, the dolphins go into a panic, knowing they are in imminent danger. The cove is filled with the cries of helpless animals, begging to be set free.
The next morning, the market is open. Buyers from the multi-billion dollar industry of dolphin entertainment wait on the shore to select which dolphins they will steal away from their families, from the only life they’ve ever know, and transport them to a life filled with the physical and psychological toll of captivity. (Most dolphins locked in captivity don't survive the first two years.)
When the last buyer has left the cove, there are hardly any fewer dolphins than there was before. And so begins the slaughter. Armed with spikes and knives, the drivers enter the cove to make sure each and every dolphin’s blood has tainted the water like the millions that came before them.
When the massacre is over, the lifeless bodies of that day’s kill are brought to a warehouse where they are chopped and sliced, rinsed and packaged, then shipped to local grocery stores and restaurants under the false pretenses of whale meat.
You see, in Japan, it is accepted to eat whale meat. However, the deceived Japanese people, lied to by the government they trust, do not realize that the meat they are buying and feeding to their families is so toxic that it is actually poison.
The meat of a dolphin is jam-packed with harsh toxins such as mercury, methylmercury, cadmium, DDT and PCBs. On average, this meat contains 5 times the very maximum allowable level of mercury. There are even some samples of dolphin meat that have shown mercury levels at 1,000 times the maximum allowable.
This sort of poison entering the human body can cause a variety of irrevocable health issues. Mercury poisoning can easily damage the kidneys, brain, central nervous system, and can result in cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and infertility. Infants who are exposed to high doses of these toxins while in the womb are subject to higher rates of brain damage and developmental disorders.
However, despite all of the health risks, the Japanese government continues to cover up the scandal and make millions off of brutality and deception. They take no heed of their countries history with mercury induced outbreaks.
Japan was responsible for one of the worst mercury outbreaks in global history back in the 1950s and 60s. Despite the deadly consequences then, Japanese leaders continue to endanger their people at the bidding of selfish gain.
If people do not join together in ardent protest, the slaughtering will continue. On average, 23,000 dolphins (including some related species such as false killer whales) are legally murdered in Japan alone. The ones who aren’t murdered become slaves to the billion dollar industries who use their incredible intelligence to display silly tricks.
Don’t let that sweet dolphin face fool you. If they are locked in pools and tunnels, restricted to one small area for the rest of their lives when their bodies are meant to swim tens of miles a day, they are not happy. A dolphin’s smile is one of nature’s biggest deceptions.
These intricate, smart, gorgeous creatures are a dying breed because the human race is destroying them. There is hope, however, that we may make a difference. Because of avid protestations, the poisonous dolphin meat has been removed from Japanese school lunches. Countries all over the world are beginning to ban dolphin hunting and captivity. We can make a difference.
If you want to help, go to savejapandolphins.org and become informed. Then, when you are sufficiently disturbed and disgusted, go to takepart.com/cove and sign a petition that could possibly end this injustice forever.
You have to act now. Why should we have the right to murder innocent animals? How can we justify forcing dolphins into our world when they already welcome us into theirs?
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