It has been a difficult 24 hours for those of us keeping an eye on the bottlenose dolphins in the Cove, either in person or through internet updates. I spent a lot of time with them yesterday, knowing that for many of them, it would be their last night in this world. After I could no longer stand the numbness in my fingers and toes, I guiltily headed back to the warmth and comfort of my hotel room.
At around 10pm last night, we checked on them again. The cove was lit up with lamps, to ensure no one could cut the nets and free the dolphins in the middle of the night. Fortunately the lights were not terribly bright, nor were they shining directly on the dolphins, so hopefully this did not disturb them even more on their last night here.
I could not see the dolphins, but I sat in silence and listened to their breathing. There were long moments of silence, followed by the thunderous sound of many exhalations, one after another. I'd hoped their synchronized breathing was an indication that they were resting together. It brought me a little comfort to know they were relaxed enough to sleep, but I knew they must have been so terrified.
We arrived at the Cove before sunrise this morning and had to walk right past three guys in wetsuits to walk down to the beach. I'm not sure if they were the dolphin killers or trainers who would be selecting dolphins for captivity, but either way it sent a chill down my spine.
The sun began to illuminate the Cove, and the day's “work” began. A boat full of trainers drove into the killing Cove, and the dolphins were pushed out of our sight. All that we could perceive of them were their whistles which were picked up by a hydrophone. In total, ten dolphins were placed in slings and dragged away from the Cove, their family, and their freedom. Shortly after the last live dolphin was taken away, the whistles were silenced. The boat full of trainers emerged from the Cove, followed closely by skiffs dragging the bodies of the remaining pod members. Initially we estimated that there were about 25 dolphins in this group, but the information we received today is that 23 dolphins were slaughtered, so there must have been 33 dolphins total.
For some of this pod, life has ended. It was much too soon, and at the hands of people who had no right to make this decision. For the rest of the dolphins, life as they know it has ended, and now they must carry the pain of losing their family, home, and freedom, as they are shipped to who knows where in the world, all in the name of entertainment.