[Ed: Scroll down for updates.]
It's been four years since the Oscar-winnng "The Cove" exposed the annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan, to an international audience and left many of us, lulled by a belief that attention and awards bring change, to assume that cinematic thunder crack would have ended the tragic spectacle. But it's still happening. And I mean happening -- right now, in Taiji cove, and you can witness it for yourself thanks to the indefatigable efforts of The Sea Shepherd and their livestreaming coverage (Warning: Disturbing video).
On Friday, 250 bottlenose dolphins were rounded up in the shallow waters of the cove, where about 25 -- including the icon of this tragedy, a baby albino dolphin -- were removed, presumably to be sold into captivity for aquatic parks and aquariums. In just about four hours (5 p.m. ET --updated, it's begun), the hunters will return, sorting out more of the dolphins to take into captivity, then slaughtering the rest for their meat, turning the cove's waters a deep red.
What stings most about this is that we know of the deep intelligence and emotional abilities of dolphins and other cetaceans (like, of course, orcas). We learn more about them constantly -- just this week we learned that dolphins appeared to whistle to their babies in the womb. The logic we used to employ for years, decades, and in the case of the Taiji dolphin hunters, centuries before -- they're not like us, they won't probably suffer much, they don't feel the way we do -- we know now is not true. It renders the cultural arguments on behalf of these hunts utterly irrelevant. And it forces us into the nauseating position of feeling helpless to stop it.
What you can do: Call and write to the authorities in Taiji as well as the Japanese Embassy in your country, the U.S. Embassy to Japan, U.S. and Japanese Ambassadors to the UN and the U.S. Senate members of the Committee on Foreign Relations, among others -- all of their contact information is on this page.
An encouraging sign: Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, tweeted her dismay at the "inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing" and reiterating the U.S. opposition to such hunts. Her tweet -- and an array of others -- follow: