Blog | Scientists Speak Out Against the Slaughter

Scientists Speak Out Against the Slaughter

March 23, 2012 by Ric O'Barry, Earth Island Institute

By Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

Scientists normally stay away from controversies.  They base their science on careful observations (as objective as possible) and experimentation, which leaves no room for voicing opinions other than those built up by sound evidence.  That is the way science works.

But a large and growing number of scientists, many of them expert biologists and marine mammal specialists, have signed a petition opposing the dolphin slaughters in Japan.

The petition calls on the Japan government to “put an end to the brutal treatment and slaughter of dolphins (including small toothed whales) in the Japanese drive hunts.”

The petition continues: “We strongly believe that the sourcing of animals from these hunts for any purposes, including human consumption, fertilizer and pet food manufacturing, and live public display, is unethical. We believe it is a violation of the code of professional ethics concerning collection from the wild for any zoo, aquarium or public display facility to be associated with these hunts in any way.”

More than two hundred marine mammal scientists, veterinarians and conservation biologists from around the world have signed the petition so far.

It is, I think, a strong testament to just how horrendous these hunts are that the scientific community has been willing to stick their necks out and decry the hunts.

It should be noted that some of the signers are with the larger aquarium industry, so signing an online petition should not be an excuse for them to say they have done something when the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) has not taken action to sanction their member zoos and aquariums, including the notorious Taiji Whale Museum, that engage in trading for live dolphins from these hunts.  In fact none of the important professional associations connected to the captive dolphin industry have ever done anything meaningful to police their own industry and stop these violent dolphin captures in Taiji and elsewhere.  Missing in action:  The International Marine Animal Trainers Association (IMATA), the Alliance of Marine Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA), the American Zoological Society (AZA), the Ocean Project (OP), the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZAA), and the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) – the latter are members in good standing of WAZA in spite of the fact they blatantly and consistently violate the WAZA Code of Ethics as it applies to dolphins with impunity.

Maybe it’s time for WAZA and the other associations involved in the captive dolphin industry to take ownership of the issue regarding the dolphin captures in Taiji?  After all, it’s the captures that seem to be the economic underpinning of the dolphin slaughter.

Industry apathy should not rule.

You can see the full petition and signatures here:

You can sign our petition online to urge WAZA to take action:



Photo by Leah Lemieux,

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Scientists Speak Out Against the Slaughter