The Threats for Dolphins

Today the blue planet is a dangerous place with many threats for dolphins, which are mainly caused by man. The scientific estimates of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society ( assume an annual bycatch of about 300’000 whales and dolphins – solely caused by the deep-sea fishing industry. The majority of them are dolphins. Moreover, overfishing of the food resources for dolphins are becoming scarce.

Another problem: The marine mammals are at the end of the food chain. Over the years, they accumulate through the food intake high pollutant concentrations. It comes to organ damage, reproductive rate decreases, the immune system is weakened, and the mortality rate is increasing.

In addition, many confounding factors impact on the habitat of the dolphins. A key factor for animals living in the sea is the vessel traffic with its immense high noise levels. River dolphin populations are often separated by the construction of dams and, consequently, the genetic diversity for the continued existence is no longer guaranteed.

Yet another threat is omnipresent. Dolphins are being followed for commercial reasons. During the so-called “Drive Fishery”, the bloodthirsty hunt in Japanese waters, the most beautiful animals are sold to dolphinariums. The rest is killed.
In Peru, approximately 15’000 dolphins are killed each year. The animals are harpooned, pulled on the boats and bludgeoned to death. They are then used for shark baits or human consumption. Hundreds of dolphins and small whales are also killed every year on the Faroe Islands, which belong to Denmark, because otherwise, according to their own statements, the population would starve to death.

This all results that today many of the 35 marine and 5 river dolphin species are threatened or endangered highly. This statement is given by the conservation organizations and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). If not acted quickly, the endangered species could become extincted in the foreseeable future. The clock for this disastrous and extremely worrying development runs – incessantly!


Dolphin Drive Fishery in Taiji Japan

More than 20’000 dolphins – including bottlenose dolphins, white-sided dolphins, spotted dolphins, but also pilot whales and false killer whales – are slaughtered in an inhumane manner every year in a bay in the Japanese village of Taiji.

During these so-called drive fisheries, fishermen first look for schools of dolphins and as soon as they see a pod of dolphins, they move their boats into position and surround the dolphins. They then lower steel pipes into the water at strategic points, which they hit with sticks to disrupt the dolphins’ sonar. Dolphins use their sonar to send out ultrasonic signals, pick up their echoes and thus orient themselves in their surroundings. The noise of the steel pipes makes this impossible for them, which allows the fishermen to drive them towards a bay. The bay is then cordoned off with nets, depriving the dolphins of any opportunity to escape.

The most beautiful animals are then sold to dolphinariums and aquariums in China, but also to countries in the Middle East. Animal rights activists have been criticizing the keeping of dolphins in dolphinariums and aquariums for years. Dolphins have a complex social life, while in captivity they must live separated from their families. In the narrow concrete pools of the dolphinariums they cannot live out their natural needs and behavioral disorders are the result.

All remaining dolphins that are not suitable for dolphinariums are slaughtered in the most brutal way. A metal rod is rammed into their bodies behind the blowhole, severing the spinal cord. A cork is then inserted into the animals’ puncture wound so that the animals bleed to death internally and the water does not turn so red. According to environmentalists from the Japanese NGO Life Investigation Agency (LIA), it has been observed how dolphin mothers were also killed. The dolphin calves were then left to their fate. The bitter reality: a dolphin calf has no chance of survival in the wild without the care of its mother. Dolphins have a sense of self and feel injuries very clearly. They experience their death consciously – until their last breath.

The killed dolphins are then loaded onto boats and transported away for processing. Since dolphin meat is usually highly contaminated with mercury and can lead to severe poisoning in humans, the demand for dolphin meat is declining every year. In a test of a Risso Dolphin, the meat contained 265 times the legally prescribed limit of mercury. For this reason, the dolphins are now being processed into food for pets (e.g. dog food) or fertilizer, which is completely useless.

Despite all the criticism, the Japanese government defends this hunt as a traditional cultural custom and continues to allow it. Fishermen also argue that dolphins are eating away the fish stocks in the sea and to slaughter them is a form of pest control.

(Source: / / /