Dolphins and Whales: The Cove and the Grind

Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Dolphins and Whales: The Cove and the Grind

Dolphins and whales are not fish.  They are mammals who breathe air and are known to have complex societies and ways of communicating.  Beyond their beauty and intelligence, these animals are also at the top of the marine food chain and their role in the ecosystem is really important.  Think of a food chain as a series of links where each animal plays a part in keeping the whole environmental system going. If one part of a food chain breaks down, then the whole chain becomes in danger of collapsing. And if the chain collapses, then so does the environment it was in—desert, rainforest, or ocean. Click here to check out this really cool website that lets you explore some very simple food chains to see how everything is interconnected:

Dolphins and whales are supposed to live in freedom. The horrible problem our marine friends have is that they are being hunted in really large numbers. Whales and dolphins have been threatened by this illegal hunting for centuries, even after a hunting ban was put into place in 1986. For example, Taiji, Japan, has an annual dolphin hunt where dolphins are driven into a cove (yes, there’s a movie about the Taiji hunt called The Cove which you might have heard about) and then harvested for food or other purposes. Some of these dolphins are pre-selected by trainers and sold off to marine mammal parks, and they live in captivity, far away from their home.  Some people consume dolphin meat as well, even though it’s dangerous due to its high levels of toxin.

The Japanese government sees this hunt as a “part of their traditions”, but Japan isn’t the only place where this tragedy happens. The same thing happens during the summer in the Faroe Islands, in Denmark. In Denmark’s case, Pilot whales are the ones that are being hunted during the “Grindadráp” or “The Grind” as part of a tradition based on boys being allowed to participate in the hunt when they become teenagers. Locals consider it a community event as well. Danish hunters use the meat too; it’s distributed throughout the whole island.

The purpose behind The Cove movie was to let the secrets of the Taiji hunt out and to spread the word. Both purposes were achieved: Before The Cove was released, 2,000 dolphins would die in Taiji each year. Last year, due in part to public protests, the number decreased to 800.

This is The Cove movie’s webpage: There are videos, news releases, and more information to learn more about what’s happening with the lovely creatures that live around us.  There’s a petition to stop the hunt too.  Please join me and help our dolphins and whales. They need all of us.

~Paola, Kids Army Mexico