You know that movie The Cove? You know. The horror show.
Back when it came out, I didn’t read the box. I thought it was a nature doc, and popped it in ready to enjoy a relaxing tv dinner watching dolphins frolic amidst the waves. If you’re not familiar, The Cove is not a nature show. It is a documentary about a mass dolphin slaughter that takes place every year in Taiji, Japan.
By the end credits I was huddled behind the couch, staring into space, teeth locked, rocking back and forth like a trauma victim. The blood. The screams. The cold-blooded brutality. That stuff doesn’t leave you.
I vowed I would help end the annual dolphin hunt in Taiji. I signed petitions, wrote officials, spread the word, made friends uncomfortable by constantly inserting dolphin slaughter into mundane conversation. I didn’t pack my nun-chucks and get on a plane to Taiji though. Somehow I did not manage to single-handedly end the bloodshed. It continues.
Starting a week ago, on Sept 1, the hunt began again, as it does each year. The voice of the international dolphin loving community rises up in outrage again. My hippie heart hurts again, thinking of the dolphins being herded into Taiji bay, entire pods senselessly slaughtered for near inedible meat, with a few young individuals singled out, destined for miserable lives imprisoned in tiny aquarium tanks.
This year, the Taiji dolphin hunt quota is 1,938 individuals, covering 7 species of cetacean. The hunt is on until March of next year. As I was dragging my soap box across the internet, determined to speak out for these 1,938 cursed dolphin people , I stopped on a startling tid-bit of information: 300,000 cetaceans die as fishery by-catch each year. Three. Hundred. Thousand. And that number is going up, along with our appetite for seafood.
That is 150 Taiji dolphin drives worth of murder-death-kill every year, so we can eat red snapper and ahi tuna. My heart sank, thinking of all my dead dolphin friends, drowned in gill nets across the open ocean. Then it sank again, at a more personal realization: I can’t eat fish anymore, which had become my refuge from factory-farmed meat. Not in good conscience, anyways. How can I point a finger at those cold-hearted Disney villain Taiji fisherman, when I’m killing my dolphin friends myself through my dietary choices? Oh goddamit. Sigh. Realtalk? If meat grew on trees I would eat it every single day. My heart pumps the blood of a carnivore. The smell of BBQ makes my pupils dilate. The sight of a pepper steak makes me forget what I was saying. And yet, cauliflower. It’s what’s for dinner. Because the world.
It feels so impossible sometimes, to actually do anything about the terrible crimes we are committing against the other inhabitants of this planet. And yet as far as dolphin murder goes, it also could not be simpler to stop being a part of it, to stop funding the unsustainable seafood industry. Which is to say, almost the entire seafood industry.
I will stop shrugging and saying ‘ I know its bad but I’m so hungry right now and like omega 3s’ – no. If I ever buy seafood again, it will be researched, informed, and as sustainable as possible. Like maybe some local clams or something. I will use resources like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and the WWF seafood guide to help me decide. But most of the time, I will just eat the damn cauliflower. I will fry that tofu UP. I will not pretend it is delicious. But I will do it for the dolphin people.