Dolphins and Drive Hunting In Japan

Learn the harrowing reality of Drive Hunting Dolphins in Japan and elsewhere

Westerners are generally enthralled by dolphins; the prospect of swimming with dolphins is high up on the wish-list of a great many people. However, in some countries in the world, most notably Japan, these animals are hunted and slaughtered. The method is named drive hunting, whereby whole pods of dolphins are harassed and captured within a bay for the fishermen to then kill them one by one. Traditionally this meant having their throats slit, and although the Japanese government banned this in favor of a (supposedly) more humane method, this ban hasn’t been enforced.

Consider again the intelligence of these animals. As intelligent mammals each is endowed with a central nervous system and a rich set of emotions, a complex mental faculty, and seemingly command a moral agency to rival humans. They have plenty of capacity for fear and pain.

Driving Hunting is a harrowing concept – watch a video of what actually goes on if you can stomach it.

Public attention is selective of such matters; animals with the awe of whales, the grace and character of dolphins, or the adorability of kittens hold the medias eye far more easily than your run of the mill chicken or cow. In England for instance, how is it that millions of us can sit glassy eyed watching the sorry plight of a single kitten on the TV show ‘Pet Rescue’, whilst the harrowing realities of our own meat industry fail to draw an emotive response? It is this human ability – to selectively deny empathy or moral accountability - that enables inconsistencies such as these to continue. Condemning hunting methods like these isn’t about joining Greenpeace or rallying with the hippies, its about objectively viewing the animal on a biological basis, and its ability to perceive pain and trauma.

Its useful to compare dolphins with other intelligent mammals – us, for instance. What human doesn’t find the prospect of having ones throat slit terrifying and repulsive? Or the idea of somebody inflicting this upon another human to be despicable?

It is important not villainize the Japanese for this – it must be remembered that they have been hunting whales and other cetaceans for hundreds of years. Cultural differences aside though, its astonishing how a developed country can permit this with moral indifference.

I believe the real villain is culture, in this case. The progression of morality is sluggish when so many minds are harmonized to a single central ideology; breaking away from it or even questioning it immediately alienates you from a huge amount of people. That alienation is amplified greatly when there is an economic impact, such as there would be in Japan. This is because, obviously, those who profit from the hunts would be fiercely against change.

For more information on drive hunting, see here . An eyewitness report and comprehensive article on the subject can also be found here.

UPDATE: A New video has just been released, a comprehensive full-length documentary filmed covertly. For an article about what they found, and the grizzly realities that are still in practice, go here.

UPDATE: This film has finally been cut and produced, trailer available to watch at

Written by Tom Bates