Taiji Dolphin Park – License to Kill?

Dolphin and whale lovers will be happy to hear the first part of this news: Taiji, the starring town of Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove”, is now planning to partition off an area for tourists and visitors to swim and frolic with the intelligent mammals. The plans are still in its stages of conception, where “research” is being done to determine which section of the cove to use for the marine mammal park.

However, the next part of the news will probably incite indignation (if not anger) in a lot of people spanning from animal activists to environmentalists to sophists worldwide: The cove will be part of the town’s plan to increase tourism flow in the area, but it is in no way an attempt at conservation of marine wildlife. On the contrary, they are hoping the erection of this park will help perpetuate the tradition of whaling and dolphin-hunting (or dolphin-ing?) through means like selling dolphin, whale, and other marine animals’ meat that were implied but not explicitly stated in the article.

In case anyone is uncertain, the aforementioned movie “The Cove” is not nice. It is about how dolphins get corralled and slaughtered yearly by fishermen in Taiji, Japan, and it is a massacre sanctioned by the local government. The movie was released in 2009, but dolphin hunting and whaling activities are still adamantly continued by these fishermen who insist on carrying on the four century old tradition.

In addition to Dolphin Park, the town also has plans to construct a 69-acre Whale Safari. Three guesses as to what cuisine will be sold there.

Obviously this article portrays Japan as a threat to the ecology. Their whaling activities have come under fire, but for reasons incomprehensible to me, they resolutely insist on continuing it. If the IWC is unable to stop whaling activities and dolphin-hunting, there is a very high chance they might become endangered as happened in the other parts of the world.


AFP/xq. (2013, 10 7). Japan dolphin-hunting town to open marine park. Retrieved 10 7, 2013, from Japan dolphin-hunting town to open marine park: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/lifestyle/japan-dolphin-hunting/839082.html

Demetriou, D. (2013, 10 7). Japanese dolphin-killing town in ‘The Cove’ to open marine park. Retrieved from The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/10359981/Japanese-dolphin-killing-town-in-The-Cove-to-open-marine-park.html

Psihoyos, L. (Director). (2009). The Cove [Motion Picture].



One thought on “Taiji Dolphin Park – License to Kill?

  1. This is such an odd story that it almost sounds invented in order to drive web traffic.

    The controversies surrounding “The Cove” (the ethical of using dolphins in marine parks, slaughtering them for the sake of tradition, not to mention the film’s guerrilla shooting techniques) will bubble to the surface again with these plans.

    This story immediately makes me wonder how this proposed park relates to the idea of nature tourism. Differing perspectives on “nature” in this case make the intellectual exercise rich with possibility. As we discussed early in the semester, “nature” is a complex idea seen from multiple perspectives in Japan, inflected by aesthetics, class, reliance on nature for one’s livelihood, and more. In this proposed whale and dolphin park, nationalistic ideas of tradition, culture, and nature will be expressed in the face of a global movement that undermines or questions all of these beliefs, all for the sake of what some call “charismatic megafauna.”

    This will be a story to watch for years.

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