Dolphins live in extraordinarily well-organized groups. A complex
communication system enables each member to interact with the
rest of the group. As with all cetaceans, the relationship between
a mother and her young is particularly intense, with the mother
demonstrating huge affection and protectiveness. This relationship
will last for at least five years, until the young animal is fully
The capture of dolphins is invariably violent, as dolphins are
wild animals that are intended to live in their natural environment.
In a few brief moments, capture severs strong and established
ties. Not only does it destroy the captured animal's life; it
causes lasting damage to the group as a whole.
Different methods are used, mainly depending on which species
of animal is to be captured (dolphin, orca or porpoise). Sadly
for them, dolphins like to swim alongside boats, making their
capture that much easier. Hunters pursue the dolphins until the
animals are exhausted, then capture as many as possible in their
nets. They are then presented to "recruiting agents"
from marine parks who make their selection. Female dolphins appear
to be most in demand. There are however no reliable statistics.
Even though all cetaceans are listed at least under its appendix
II, CITES is unable to produce reasonably precise figures on the
population levels of each species, allegedly due to a lack of
There is a reason for this: the countries in which the animals
live are tasked with providing data. And very often these same
countries derive commercial benefit from the capture and trade
of cetaceans. It is therefore not in their interests to indicate
how many animals have been captured and what impact this has on
Awash with blood
In 2003, the world was horrified to discover another of the methods
used to capture dolphins when Richard O'Barry filmed the slaughter
of dolphins in Japan: dolphins are hacked to death in what can
only be described as a blood bath. Meanwhile, "experts"
select the dolphins that will be sent to marine parks. Captivity
as the sole alternative to death.