stolen from the ocean

The Angel of Taiji

Angel was born a wild dolphin, belonging only to her mother, her family pod, and the sea. That’s the life that she and every other dolphin were meant to live.

On January 17th 2014 over 250 bottlenose dolphins were ruthlessly driven into a cove in Taiji Japan.

At about 10am two separate dolphin drives were spotted  just over the horizon. The pods were massive. As the killing boats rapidly progressed toward Taiji, the dolphins attempted to escape many times and were eventually driven in as five separate pods.

The large family unit of cetaceans also included a rare albino calf, ‘Angel’, ( named as she looked like an angel with fins) she clung to her mother as the hunters pushed section, after section of dolphins into the cove netting them off overnight.

Angel was the first one taken into captivity. A prize, rare albino dolphin to attract the masses. Who knows how much one would pay to see an albino?  The remaining pod endured three days huddled together in shallow waters, as trainers picked out the ones suitable for dolphinariums and marine parks.

Approximately 35/40 dolphins were stolen from the sea for captivity, 60/70 slaughtered and the remaining pod were all mercilessly dumped back into the ocean.

There is widespread speculation that Angel’s mother committed suicide after her baby was violently taken from her. Volunteer Cove Guardians documented and witnessed the grieving mother repeatedly spy-hopping, looking for her calf, before lowering herself into the water, never to resurface.

Bottlenose dolphins – January 17, 2014 © Cove Guardians

Angel once swam alongside her mother, but after being violently ripped away she now resided in a cramped pool at Taiji Whale Museum. She rarely surfaced and  showed signs of withdrawal and separation anxiety.

Angel One Year On by karla sanjur

She has gotten very big and is still just as beautiful as the first time I saw her. She swam up to me and started playing a bit. She rubbed her nose against the glass and I checked it to see if she had any scars from the injury she got the day of her capture. She does, but it is small.

She then looked into my eyes and I couldn’t help but shed a tear. When you look at her – at all dolphins – you get a sense that there is a “someone” inside. A non-human person who understands and can perceive things clearly. It broke my heart.

Angel being trainedShe is in a dirty tank with four, other dolphins, none of them bottlenose. It is hard to believe she was once capable of swimming as many miles as she wanted, each and every day. In this tank, all she does is swim in circles, period. Nowhere to go, nothing to do. And her family? Long dead. I couldn’t help but think about the wild albino calf I saw swimming side by side with it’s mother. How free, how unique and priceless her existence in the ocean was. It seems so senseless to me. A sentient being who had a family and a beautiful life, reduced to entertainment for profit. I wonder if the people who pay to see her know her story? Would they care? I think they would.

But we know and we care. Even though we can’t free her, we can fight for her. We can make a change so that captivity becomes a thing of the past. It all starts with education and awareness. I really believe if people knew the truth behind the captivity industry they would turn away from it. It is happening now and we can keep this momentum going. For Angel, for Lolita, and for all the others who lost their freedom for this cruel and senseless form of entertainment. The time is NOW. © Dolphin Project

Ric & Angel