By Dr Kathryn Shutt
Dr. Kathryn Shutt is a conservation primatologist. She works for Fauna and Flora International as the West Africa Conservation Programme Coordinator.
Taiji: the link between dolphin drives and dolphinariums
If you haven’t heard of a remote Japanese coastal town called Taiji as yet, it might not be long before you do. Taiji is home to an annual ‘dolphin drive’, where traditionally thousands of dolphins are captured and killed. The ‘Cove’ has been featured in an award-winning documentary, and has grown increasingly controversial.
The dolphin drives last six months, and in 2012/13 nearly a thousand dolphins were killed for meat, while around 250 were taken away to become prize exhibits at dolphinariums around the world. While the number of animals killed for meat has gone down, the number going to dolphinariums has increased.
The shocking reality of what happens at Taiji (and on a smaller scale in other places, including the Solomon Islands) is now well documented, but combined with our increasing awareness of the intelligence and social bonds of dolphins, and the impact of such treatment must have on them, it is easy to see why many – including Sir Richard Branson – are calling for the Taiji hunts to be banned.
But what has this to do with tourism? Simply put – if you visit a dolphinarium to see a show with a performing dolphin or Orca, where do you think they came from?
You can read more on this issue here, but this page aims to give you information as to which dolphinariums currently, or recently, took dolphins from the wild.
Where do the dolphins go?
It’s worth noting that not all aquariums currently take dolphins and whales from the wild, as they are able to breed them ‘in house’. However even somewhere like SeaWorld did this at one time, and newer attractions, striving to cash in on the world’s appetite for performing animals, have little choice but to use dolphins from the wild.
Whichever way you look at it, the uncomfortable truth is that by supporting any dolphin or whale show, you are supporting Taiji. This goes for both tourists and tour operators – sorry Sir Richard, but Virgin Holidays vigorously promotes SeaWorld. It doesn’t take much to join the dots.
Dolphinariums, Aquariums and zoos/parks which use dolphins/whales taken from the wild
The following information has been compiled from painstaking research work by organisations including Ceta-Base, Whale and Dolphin Conservation and other concerned individuals. All information is correct to our knowledge.
- Xiangjiang Safari Park
- Fushun Royal Sea World
- Hefei Sea World
- Qingdao Polar Ocean World
- Huangzhou Polar Ocean
- Changsha Underwater World
- Nanjing Underwater World
- Beijing Aquarium
- Tianjin Polar Ocean World
- Ningbo Ocean World
- Penglai Ocean Polar World
- Diao Mountain WAP
- Guangzhou Ocean World
- Dalian Sunasia Ocean World
- Nanning Zoo
- Dalien Laohutan Ocean Park/Marine Animal Conservation Research Institute
- Atlantis the Palm Dubai, Dolphin Park (dolphins from the Solomon Island’s drive)
- Dubai Dolphinarium (Creek Park Marine World)
- Dolphin Hurghada
- Batumi Aquarium
- Ocean Park (dolphins caught in Taiwan and Indonesia)
- Kish Island Dolphin Park
Japan has around 100 aquariums, and it is estimated that 50 of these hold dolphins from the Taiji hunts. Below is a short list of some of those facilities known to have taken Taiji dolphins, but if you wish to go to a Japanese aquarium but are concerned about Taiji, it’s worth doing more research. At the current time, three facilities are known not to display live-caught cetaceans: Toba Aquarium, Marinepia Matsushima Aquarium and AQUAS/Shimane Aquarium.
- Dolphin Island, Oita
- Dolphin Land, Shibuishi Bay
- Taiji Whale Museum
- World Dolphin Resort
- Dolphin Base (Taiji)
- Izu Mito Sea Paradise
- Keikyu Aburatubo Marine Park
- Enoshima Aquarium
- Awashima Marine Park
- Shimoda Floating Aquarium
- Shinagawa Aquarium
- Shimonoseki Municipal Aquarium (Kaikyokan)
- Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium
- Ibaraki Prefectural Oarai Aquarium, Aqua World
- Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise Aqua Museum
- Marine Road Dolphin Fantasy
- Nagoya Higashiyama Zoo
- Marine World Fukuoka
- Adventure World
- Oita Ecological Aquarium/Marine Palace, Dolphin Island
- Katsurahama Aquarium
- Nanki Shirahama Adventure World
- Suma Aqualife Park
- Iruka Park, Iki, Nagasaki
- Awaji Dolphin Farm
- Okinawa Marine Research Center
- Cabo Adventures, Cabo San Lucas
- Dolphin Bay
- Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium (Ocean Adventures)
- Oceanarium FEB RAS, Vladivostock
- Fakieh Aquarium, Jeddah
- Marine Life Park/Sentosa World Resorts (dolphins from Solomon Islands drive)
- Jangsaengpho Whale Museum
- Hanwha Resort (Aqua Planet)
- Pacific Land
- Hualien Ocean World
- Friguia Park
- Adaland aquarium/Sealanya (Alanya)
- Safari World, Bangkok
- Nemo Dolphinarium
- Tuan Chua Dolphin Club
- Possibly Seoul Grand Park
For more information
Blog from renowned dolphin conservationist Ric O’Barry
Read Jumping Through Hoops: From Open Sea to Opening Act here
Ceta Base Taiji Timeline (database of dolphins caught)