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200 Dolphins Await Slaughter In Japan's Taiji Cove 628

Posted by samzenpus
from the but-we've-always-stabbed-them dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "CNN reports that more than 200 bottlenose dolphins remain penned in a cove by Japanese fishermen, many of them stressed and bloodied from their attempts to escape before fishermen start to slaughter them for meat. Until now, the fishermen have focused on selecting dolphins to be sold into captivity at marine parks and aquariums in Japan and overseas as twenty-five dolphins, including a rare albino calf, were taken on Saturday 'to a lifetime of imprisonment,' and another 12 on Sunday. 'Many of the 200+ Bottlenose dolphins who are in still the cove are visibly bloody & injured from their attempts to escape the killers,' one update says. Although the hunting of dolphins is widely condemned in the west, Japanese defend the practice as a local custom — and say it is no different to the slaughter of other animals for meat. The Wakayama Prefecture, where Taiji is located condemns the criticism as biased and unfair to the fishermen. 'Taiji dolphin fishermen are just conducting a legal fishing activity in their traditional way in full accordance with regulations and rules under the supervision of both the national and the prefectural governments. Therefore, we believe there are no reasons to criticize the Taiji dolphin fishery.' Meanwhile the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society describes how about 40 to 60 local fishermen work with nets to divide up the pod, whose initial numbers were estimated by the group at more than 250. 'They tighten up the nets to bring each sub-group together then the skiffs push them toward the tarps. Under the tarps in the shallows is where the trainers work with the killers to select the "prettiest" dolphins which will sell and make the best pay day for the hunters,' the group says. The fishermen will 'kill the "undesirable" dolphins (those with nicks and scars) under the tarps to hide from our cameras when that time comes.'"
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200 Dolphins Await Slaughter In Japan's Taiji Cove

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:04PM (#46016265)
    Dolphins are intelligent, they'll figure a way out of this.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I don't condone this behaviour, but the logic behind killing the dolphins compared to killing other animals is sound. Personally, I am against the killing of any animal, but it certainly is hypocrisy if the people complaining participate or contribute in any way to the slaughter of any other animals. Creating arbitrary lines is ridiculous. You either support animal murder or you oppose it.
      • by twocows (1216842) on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:32PM (#46016645)
        Uh, creating lines based on a standard of intelligence is not arbitrary at all. And nobody "supports" animal "murder" (you may want to look up the definition of that word). They tolerate it as a means toward living a convenient life. I tolerate this practice as well, but I do not tolerate killing dolphins because there is significant research to suggest that they either possess an intelligence similar to ours or are approaching it. That is something that, to my knowledge, does not exist with any other species.
        • by BasilBrush (643681) on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:41PM (#46016769)

          It's tempting to think that. But the top 3 animals for intelligence after man are the dolphin, the chimp and the pig, with the exact order open to debate. Yet people are quite happy to kill and eat pigs.

          Cats and dogs are much lower on the intelligence scale, but most cultures find it unacceptable to kill them for sport or food.

          Don't get me wrong, I'm completely against killing dolphins too.

          But the list of what animals we will kill for what purposes is somewhat arbitrary.

        • by BStroms (1875462) on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:55PM (#46016945)

          Actually, I've seen research that indicates the extreme intelligence attributed to dolphins is largely myth based on brain size. And most of the larger dolphin brain is simply focuses on their echolocation. The speed of sound is much greater underwater, and processing all that information requires much more brain devoted to it than our own sense of hearing.

          In most intelligence tests dealing with items such as problem solving and the like, dolphins are not only far below humans, but below many animals people wouldn't think of, such as several species of birds, and I believe ferrets. But my memory as to the exact rankings is a little fuzzy.

          • And most of the larger dolphin brain is simply focuses on their echolocation.

            That doesn't sound right to me, some bats have a brain smaller than a pea and yet they can perform similar echolocation feats as the big brained Dolphin. Relative brain size is normally associated with social complexity and Dolphins are socially complex animals.

            Also any ranking of intelligence depends on how you define "intelligent", problem solving alone is too limited since an Octopus can work out how to open a screw top lid much faster than any other animal. You simply can't compare such alien intelli

            • by BStroms (1875462)

              With the bats, don't forget that the speed of sound is four times greater in water than in air. I'm not expert, and only reporting what I read, but the claim was that handling this increased data resulting from the effect required a significantly enlarged and specialized section of the brain. And yes, it largely does come down to how you define intelligence how the rankings go.

              Still, no matter what metric you use, I think you'll be surprised by how many animals not thought of as especially intelligent in th

      • by vistic (556838) on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:35PM (#46016687)

        Vegetarianism is about the minimization of cruelty and suffering.

        Plant life does not factor into it because they can not suffer. They can’t suffer because they have no nervous system with which to think. They also have no physical mechanisms with which to feel pain. And even if they did, they have no thoughts, so the pain would mean nothing. They have no fear, panic, or sadness. They live, but they live without consciousness. So you can not torture a plant or make it suffer.

        On the animal spectrum, not all animals are the same since some animals have small brains and simple thoughts and other animals have complex brains and complex thoughts. At the top of the animal spectrum you have humans with the most complex brains and abstract thoughts and intense sensations of fear. Humans have a high capacity to suffer. On the other end of the spectrum you have animals like spiders with comparatively simple nervous systems and simple thoughts. They have a much smaller capacity to suffer. That’s why it would feel more painful to watch someone rip the legs off a spider than watch someone rip the legs off a cat or horse or chimpanzee. So there’s a spectrum of animals ordered by how self-aware they are and how complex their thinking is: spiders, fish, chickens, ravens, octopus, cats, dogs, pigs, cows, horses, dolphins, gorillas, chimpanzees, humans... roughly something like that. Everyone draws a line on the spectrum, whether consciously or unconsciously, what they are comfortable with. Some people are fine eating fish and chicken, but not pigs and cows. Other people are fine eating pigs and cows, but not chimpanzees, who are almost human. Some people are even fine eating chimpanzees and feel no empathy when they shout and panic. Almost everyone at least agrees that it’s not ok to eat humans. But some people even do that. A vegetarian draws the line at it being not ok to eat any animal.

        Some people argue that oysters, despite being animals, are vegetarian. They aren’t, by definition of the word vegetarian, but it is true that the argument for plants applies to oysters. Oysters do not have a central nervous system, no consciousness, and no thoughts. So they can not suffer.

        Not all vegetarians are vegetarian for the same reasons. Some people have a spiritual belief that all life is sacred and equal, but that’s not my belief and not something that’s supported by any facts I’ve seen. What I outlined above, though, is simple fact and simple reasoning.

        • by anagama (611277)

          Everyone draws a line on the spectrum, whether consciously or unconsciously, what they are comfortable with. Some people are fine eating fish and chicken, but not pigs and cows.

          I'm here -- I chose to draw that line at only eating animals not having a neo-cortex, although I do give octopi honorary mammal status. It's somewhat arbitrary of course, but eating other mammals feels sort of broadly cannibalistic.

          I've been eating this way for about nine or ten years and I don't miss anything about eating mammals.

        • by dmbasso (1052166) on Monday January 20, 2014 @04:08PM (#46017111)

          While I mostly agree with you, please consider being more open about some concepts, like consciousness. You simply assume that plants are unconscious, because "they have no nervous system". Actually they have, although one very dissimilar to our own [1]. How can you affirm that their subjective interpretation of bodily damage is not similar to e.g. a fish's one?

          [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_perception_(physiology) [wikipedia.org]

        • by jafac (1449) on Monday January 20, 2014 @04:10PM (#46017121) Homepage

          Plant life does not factor into it because they can not suffer.

          according to your definition of "suffer".

          They can’t suffer because they have no nervous system with which to think.

          Why is thinking a necessary criterion for suffering?

          They also have no physical mechanisms with which to feel pain.

          Their mechanisms are different from those of animals, to be sure. No nerves, etc. But plants DO have mechanisms for registering and even communicating physical damage and distress.
          http://www.reeis.usda.gov/web/crisprojectpages/0187702-mechanism-for-biosynthesis-release-and-detection-of-volatile-chemical-in-plant-insect-interactions.html [usda.gov]

          And even if they did, they have no thoughts, so the pain would mean nothing.

          Yes. Thoughts have "meaning" to us human beings. We have no idea what meaning (if any) thoughts have for animals. And we have no idea of a plant's experience, and whether there is anything which has any "meaning". In this completely anthrocentric view - why is "meaning" of thought, more important than "meaninglessness" of plants? In fact, human suffering and thought, and meaning, when viewed in certain contexts, can shrink to almost nothing. Imagine stubbing your toe. Now imagine the meaning of that thought, 1,000,000 years from now. Not so much meaning to that, is there?

          They have no fear, panic, or sadness. They live, but they live without consciousness.

          Why is a plant's existence any less meaningful than an animals? Why does consciousness preclude suffering?

          There is an argument about meat-eaters, that since they eat cows and pigs, but not dogs or cats, that this is really an argument of "survival of the cutest". Dogs and cats are the most human-like, and they are cute, so we don't eat them. But they are not human, so it's really no different if we ate dogs or cats. (some cultures eat dogs, of course). But if we can extend our humanity to dogs and cats because they "feel pain" or "have conscious thought" - then we can really extend that to most of the mammals, and many higher animals. And if dogs and cats have thoughts and feelings (though, clearly they're different from human thoughts and feelings) - why would we place value on those, and not the thoughts and feelings of cows and pigs - which are clearly even more different. And if we can conceive of an existence of cows and pigs being sacred - then why is not all life (even plant life) sacred? Where do you draw the line, and why do you draw one? What is "complex" enough to merit not being eaten? It's either a biological argument, or it's an argument of empathy. And even the biological argument is empathic. We draw our lines of distinction at the classification boundary between the plant and animal kingdom?

          • by adiposity (684943) on Monday January 20, 2014 @05:50PM (#46018195)

            If a thought has no meaning to us, as humans, then it is hard to develop any sympathy for that thought. Since sympathy is essentially the basis for treating intelligent animals "humanely," it is pretty hard to swallow that we should give the same deference to seaweed as chimps.

            But, you can argue for any mode of thought. Perhaps oxygen molecules don't like being inhaled, and we should just let ourselves die from suffocation. It's kind of silly to approach life that way, though. A better approach might be to preserve that which we think is worth being preserved. There isn't really any way to do that other than a selfish point of view (from the point of the species, the region, or the individual). If there is no value in saving the life of all seaweed, then we don't do it. If there is a value in keeping dolphins alive, then we do it.

        • An interesting line of thought. By that reasoning you'd expect a venn diagram of vegetarians and abortion proponents to be two separate circles in all but the earliest term abortions. Based strictly on the average political affiliation of the two groups though, I doubt this would be the case.

        • by LostInTaiwan (837924) on Monday January 20, 2014 @04:16PM (#46017193)

          Um, Veganism is about minimizing cruelty and suffering. Vegetarianism is just a form of diet. I know plenty of vegetarian with leather handbags and leather upholstered car interiors.

          I do eat meat but I am a bit uncomfortable with the whole classifying living things into how complex they are according to human definitions. It goes without saying, life is essential to every living being regardless of their CNS complexity. Just because something doesn't feel what humans perceive to "pain" does not mean that they do not feel "pain." Everyday we learn something new about our environment and our fellow Earth cohabitants. The old thinking that crustaceans do not feel pain is being dispelled by new research data.

          • Veganism is about minimizing cruelty and suffering

            Not entirely. If you were to milk a Jersey cow that happily lives in a field and drink that milk, you're not a vegan but you're also not encouraging pain and suffering. Ditto frying up some eggs laid by chickens clucking around in your barn. Again, not vegan but not encouraging cruelty and suffering. Now granted there are horrible dairy and chicken farms that are immensely cruel, but it's not difficult to eat "cruelty free" eggs and dairy, it's just m

        • by Smauler (915644)

          Vegetarianism is about the minimization of cruelty and suffering.

          No, it's not. Every vegetarian I know would not, for example, eat a deer that had been hit by a car, or had died of some other cause. The deer is already dead, there is no more suffering by eating it, but most vegetarians would not eat it.

          Plant life does not factor into it because they can not suffer. They can’t suffer because they have no nervous system with which to think. They also have no physical mechanisms with which to feel p

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Dolphins aren’t as special as you think [salon.com]

      Their intelligence, like all intelligence, is a complex matter, but basically, they are not as smart as their reputation suggests; although, stating that they are as smart (dumb) as chickens also overstates things.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Their intelligence, like all intelligence, is a complex matter, but basically, they are not as smart as their reputation suggests; although, stating that they are as smart (dumb) as chickens also overstates things.

        But I hear they taste like chicken.

    • by JonWan (456212) on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:46PM (#46016837)

      Bender: Who wants dolphin?
      Leela: Dolphin? But dolphins are intelligent.
      Bender: Not this one. He blew all his money on instant lottery tickets.
      Fry: OK.
      Leela: Oh, OK.
      Amy: That's different.
      Farnsworth: Good, good.
      Leela: Pass the blowhole.
      Amy: Can I have a fluke?
      Hermes: Hey, quit hogging the bottle-nose.
      Farnsworth: Toss me the speech centre of the brain!

    • by LifesABeach (234436) on Monday January 20, 2014 @04:19PM (#46017221)
      Of all speices of animals on the planet, Dolphins are the only non domesticated animal that has been documented to go out of its way to help a human.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:07PM (#46016289)

    Yes, dolphins are cuter than cows and pigs ... is harvesting one worse than the other?

    How many million cows are slaughtered every year? How many pigs? How many chickens?

    This sounds like one set of animals has better PR than another.

    • by The Living Fractal (162153) <banantarr&hotmail,com> on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:11PM (#46016329) Homepage
      Maybe it has something to do with the fact that a dolphin is demonstrably smarter than a chicken and because of that people feel it is more likely to experience pain and suffering during this "fishing".

      Not a personal opinion of mine, just one hypothesis for the reaction.
      • by rilister (316428) on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:15PM (#46016377)

        Funny that you chose chickens out of that list. How about pigs? Pretty well known to be one of the smarter mammals around. At least, they've never launched a pointless war to my knowledge.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by rogoshen1 (2922505)
          You should go read Orwell's seminal masterwork of the lead-up to the great porcine war -- ignoring the cloyingly cutesy name: "Animal Farm".
        • by Aighearach (97333)

          Wild pigs are in an eternal state of war, if you see one make sure you know where the nearest tree is!

      • by Wycliffe (116160) on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:27PM (#46016569) Homepage

        Maybe it has something to do with the fact that a dolphin is demonstrably smarter than a chicken and because of that people feel it is more likely to experience pain and suffering during this "fishing".
        Not a personal opinion of mine, just one hypothesis for the reaction.

        I noticed that out of the 3 choices you picked the chicken. The "demonstrably smarter" doesn't really hold very well when
        you compare dolphin to pig instead. A pig is right up there probably falling somewhere above dog and below dolphin.
        I like pork but I still think it is an important debate. Would farm-raised dolphins be acceptable? If not, why not?
        Why is eating dogs and horses frowned upon in alot of areas? Should we let animals live out their natural lives in
        comfort before harvesting them? What criteria do we as a society use to decide what should and should not be be eaten
        and when and how it is humane to harvest it?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Aighearach (97333)

      Yes, dolphins are much smarter than cows or pigs. They have advanced abstract thinking, language skills, and social structure. They also share a reciprocal recognition of intelligence with humans, and come to visit and view humans in boats or on beaches in a similar way to how humans will be excited to see a dolphin.

      A dolphin might even save you from a shark, is a wild pig going to save you from anything? Is a wild pig going to look you in the eye, recognize your intelligence, and respect you? What about an

    • by multi io (640409)

      Yes, dolphins are cuter than cows and pigs ... is harvesting one worse than the other?

      How many million cows are slaughtered every year? How many pigs? How many chickens?

      This sounds like one set of animals has better PR than another.

      If we had dolphin farms with millions of animals, then maybe your argument would me more valid. But I guess the point is that dolphin farms just wouldn't work. There are some animals like pigs and cows that can be herded and bred easily -- they hardly try to escape, and they reproduce in captivity easily and in large numbers. You can basically just catch a few of them in the wild and build a fence around them, and provide food and water, and they'll be content until the day you kill them. So we use them as

    • by Stargoat (658863) <stargoat@gmail.com> on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:59PM (#46016983) Journal

      I like killing and eating geese and pheasants; I call it hunting. I would not torture one for several days before I killed it. That would be wicked and cruel.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:08PM (#46016293)

    Really, this isn't the news I would expect for this site.

  • by sideslash (1865434) on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:15PM (#46016379)
    Cows and especially pigs are highly intelligent animals. And they are totally delicious. Let's change our minds about those before we beat up the Japanese too badly, shall we?
    • I'm not so sure about cows. They may be highly intelligent, but they don't show it - they have been selectively bred to be quite passive and docile, for easier handling. Content to just stand around in a field, eating grass and remaining quite unresponsive to the world.

      • by sideslash (1865434) on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:32PM (#46016651)
        I would suggest that you are mistaken about cows. (I grew up on a farm and live in farm country.) When cows are very old or sick or are in a small pen, they just stand around, because they don't have much choice. But when they are young and have access to wider pasture, they wander around and explore their world. It's true they spend a bunch of time grazing, but they also don't miss a chance to ogle anything unusual. For example, a turtle walking through a cow field will often capture the attention of the herd, which will follow it (cautiously, it might be dangerous!) on its way through.
      • We're still working on getting them cable.

    • Cows and especially pigs are highly intelligent animals.

      Pigs, yes. Cows, no.

      But really, the discussion of the morality of eating animals is a slippery slope to veganism. If you like flesh for dinner, you just have to get over it. Obviously (for Westerners, at least), primates are out. But there's a long distance between primates and cows. And I wonder why it's OK to eat pork but not dolphin, pigs are possibly the smartest "farm animal", known to be quite intelligent.

      By the way, horse meat is delicious. In the 70's, due to certain economic factors effecting feed

      • by Talderas (1212466)

        News flash. Animals that are shown to be useful as working animals are generally perceived as non-food animals. When working animals can no longer work or keeping them is too expensive for their return they will be discarded.

  • So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This just sounds like one big emotional summary about fishing. Heavily one-sided as well, which doesn't surprise me considering it's Sea Shepard.

    Cry me a river.

  • by salahx (100975) on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:23PM (#46016501)

    ...will they be able to certify it as tuna-safe [wikipedia.org] ?

  • click-bait? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markhahn (122033) on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:27PM (#46016555)

    No, this is not clickbait.

    Normal, mentally-healthy humans have a lot of empathy - otherwise we're psychopaths. Sure, the amount of empathy varies - mainly as a function of whether the animal in question tends to act human-like. We should embrace this, not cynically write it off - empathy *IS* humanity.

    Yes, that also means that anyone who is intelligent and reflective will be uncomfortable with eating meat, concerned how the animal died, and of course what kind of animal it was. This is basically orthogonal to issues of environmental or ecological impact.

    • Re:click-bait? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spire3661 (1038968) on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:36PM (#46016701) Journal
      "Yes, that also means that anyone who is intelligent and reflective will be uncomfortable with eating meat"

      Empathy clashes with survivalist instinct. I can gnaw on the bones of a cow and feel empathy for it, but that doesn't mean im going to stop eating meat. At the base level, our brains see nothing wrong with killing these animals for food. We are the stronger species, we win. Empathy is evolutionarily expensive.
    • by Ardyvee (2447206)

      I don't think anyone who is intelligent and reflective will be uncomfortable with eating meat. While I do agree that there is a part of humanity who is not really reflective, I do think that somebody intelligent can reach the conclusion that: while we should work towards reducing suffering on other animals (regardless of animal), and preferably skip the animal (as a being) part altogether (and thus grow the muscle tissue directly, as long as it keeps a good taste, of course), the benefits (it tastes good, i

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:27PM (#46016571)

    How does this matter to a nerd? Will it affect the release of a stable btrfs?

  • Please REPEAT (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jack9 (11421) on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:35PM (#46016675)

    This is NOT tech news.

  • Dolphin Terroists (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lemur3 (997863)

    let us not forget that one time dolphins were trained to assassinate the president of the united states. and they would have succeeded too, if it werent for the meddling of human interlopers.

    see here for a documentary film about these terrorists:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_of_the_Dolphin [wikipedia.org]

  • by EMG at MU (1194965) on Monday January 20, 2014 @04:06PM (#46017065)
    Why is it that some people seem to care more about the death of 200 dolphins than the death of 200,000 Syrians?
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday January 20, 2014 @04:40PM (#46017509) Journal
    The Japanese consider dolphin meat to be a delicacy and serve it in their high priced restaurants. See if any of those restaurants are used to cater/host sales conferences or other such bashes of Japanese brand names. Then just publicize the info. Headlines like "Tonda Corp or Hoyota Motors hosts its sales kick off conference with dolphin meat serving restaurant" in US Market will have some salutary effect. If big name players stop supporting restaurants serving marine mammal meat the market will be greatly diminished. Hopefully.

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