Last year, a documentary called The Cove came out, and it highlighted the dolphin slaughter that takes place annually in Taiji, Japan. This important film was able to bring attention to the horrendous practice that occurs not just in Japan, but also countries such as Denmark, the Solomon Islands, Taiwan, and Peru.
The Reason That So Many Of Us Are Against Dolphin Killing
There seems to be great support around the world to put an end to traditions that feature the slaying of dolphins (and other marine creatures). Many people from different beliefs, traditions, and political tendencies have come together to oppose this practice, and the success rates have been quite high. While we are currently in the dolphin hunting season in Taiji, the most recent statistics seem to point toward the release of The Cove (and the subsequent pressure to end the practice) being successful in lowering the numbers of dolphins killed this year.
One perceived reason that people are getting so upset about the killing of dolphins is because these animals are so different from other animals, almost to the point of being human-like, that it seems wrong. Dolphins (along with other whales) are warm-blooded mammals, so perhaps we can identify with them a bit more than other sea creatures.
Why Surfers Are Against Dolphin Killing
I can safely guesstimate that the majority of the global surf community is opposed to the killing of dolphins. Dolphins are, after all, the “surfer’s best friend” — most surfers agree that the presence and sighting of these animals out in the water is always a very magical experience.
There are other arguments against killing these creatures. For one thing, they make up an important part of the marine ecosystem, and are crucial in terms of their role in the food chain. These animals are being hunted in great numbers, and their existence is becoming more and more fragile. When an animal nears a point of extinction, there is a ripple effect and every other creature in its vicinity (and sometimes beyond) is affected.
Since the ocean is their prime element, surfers are especially aware when it comes to issues that affect it. Dolphin massacres are something that, since it disturbs the nature of the ocean, surfers will never support.
Cultural Arguments For Dolphin Killing
Since the movie was released, there has been some criticism — from the ones doing the dolphin killing as well as others. Some arguments against the movie (and the concept of being against the killing of dolphins) are that we in the West have chosen dolphins as the animals that we are going to save. For one thing, humans kill animals all the time, all over the world. In the West, we raise, kill, and eat all kinds of animals — chickens, pigs, cows, and more. If the dolphins are being eaten, then why should we criticize it?
There are also arguments that we are being culturally relativistic; since, to many of us, the slaughter of these creatures is horrific and we do not practice it, we believe that it is wrong to do so anywhere else in the world. That in places where there is the tradition of hunting dolphins, to have foreigners tell them that it is wrong seems in itself wrong.
Finally, many of the dolphins that are not killed are sold to the entertainment industry, much of which is itself in the West. There are plenty of venues around the United States where dolphin shows are one of the feature events. Dolphin hunting is perpetuated by such a market.
Why We Are Against Dolphin Killing
As surfers and environmentalists, we are 100% against this practice, anywhere in the world, and for any reason. Yet we also believe in taking into account the other viewpoints on the matter so we can weigh them and, if we have conviction in our own point of view, argue it successfully.
First of all, the high levels of mercury in dolphin meat makes the consumption of it harmful to human health. Tragically enough, we humans have polluted our oceans to the point where, now, eating out of them can be dangerous.
Second of all, while the cultural argument is indeed a legitimate one, it does not make the practice itself right. Societies must always move forward — even if that means ending long-standing traditions when we get the information, awareness, and education to show that they may be more costly than beneficial. If one society has the information, awareness, and education while another lacks it, then it is their duty to share that information, even if it risks being called “culturally relative.”
This is not a one way street. We too must take a long hard look at some of our practices and listen to the some of the criticisms that other cultures have about us; we all have improvements that could be made, and must be if we want to have a future on this planet. Because after all, we are all humans, and we share the earth that we live on.