National Geographic Daily News
TAIJI, JAPAN - JANUARY 18: A rare white bottlenose dolphin is seen swimming in a pool at the Taiji Whale Museum on January 18, 2014 in Taiji, Wakayama, Japan.

An albino bottlenose dolphin is seen swimming in a pool at the Taiji Whale Museum on January 18, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY THE ASAHI SHIMBUN via GETTY    

Tim Zimmermann

for National Geographic

Published January 28, 2014

A rare albino dolphin calf, rounded up in a dolphin hunt off of Japan earlier this month, is now on display at a Japanese whale museum, where experts say its long-term survival is in doubt.

The dolphin, a female believed to be less than a year old, was part of the Taiji dolphin hunt that drew global media coverage and outrage from animal protection advocates.

"Albinos stand out and tend to be targeted by predators," said Taiji Whale Museum Assistant Director Tetsuya Kirihata in a statement, according to some media reports. "She must have been protected by her mother and her mates. We will take good care of her."

But that may be difficult, according to Stan Kuczaj, director of the Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory at the University of Southern Mississippi.

"Calves that have stranded for various reasons have sometimes been nursed back to health by humans, but others have died," Kuczaj said. "So the calf could survive, but that is certainly not guaranteed.

"We know little about the effects of trauma [and] stress on young marine mammals, but it seems likely that this calf was very stressed by the hunt and so could be at even greater risk," he continued, "especially since it was separated from its mother."

Efforts to reach the Taiji Whale Museum directly were unsuccessful.

Animal advocates quickly dubbed the dolphin "Angel" in an effort to draw the world's sympathy to what they say is the brutality of dolphin hunting.

The young albino calf proved attractive to Taiji's dolphin brokers, who sell captured dolphins from Taiji to marine parks across Asia and beyond.

According to the animal-protection group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which closely monitors the Taiji drive hunts, the albino was the first dolphin selected for capture and sale.

Naomi Rose, a dolphin and killer whale expert at the Animal Welfare Institute, said that despite assurances from the museum about the calf's safety, the young dolphin shouldn't be there in the first place: "Taking a dependent calf goes against every established conservation principle there is.

"It was wrong ethically, biologically, and in terms of management," she said. "It was wrong on every level and just plain cruel."

Animal Albinism

Albinos in the wild—which can be shunned by others in their group or make easy targets for predators—often don't survive.

Most albino alligators, for example, are taken by predators before they reach adulthood. Albinos are also more susceptible to diseases.

Albinism is relatively unusual: Scientists estimate that albinism in mammals occurs in about one of every 10,000 births.

The condition is seen across a very wide range of species and is due to genetic defects that inhibit the production of melanin, or skin pigment. (See more pictures of albino animals.)

Other albino cetaceans—which include whales and dolphins—of note include "Migaloo," a white humpback whale that can be seen off Australia, and "Iceberg,"  a white killer whale first seen in the waters off Russia in 2012.

Concerns About Hunt

The Taiji hunt, in which fishers herded an unusually large pod of 200 to 250 bottlenose dolphins into a netted shoreside bay, reportedly killing 42 dolphins, drew criticism from the likes of Caroline Kennedy, the new U.S. ambassador to Japan.

"Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing," Kennedy said in a Tweet. "USG opposes drive hunt fisheries."

The hunt takes place annually in the small Japanese village of Taiji from September to March and and was the subject of the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary The Cove. (See pictures of the Taiji dolphin roundup.)

This year, over the course of four days in mid-January, the Taiji fishers selected 52 dolphins for sale into captivity, slaughtered 41 for meat, and then drove the surviving pod members back out to sea, according to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Despite the fishers' use of tarps and other screening strategies, Sea Shepherd and some news organizations obtained photographs and video of the hunt, which helped fuel global response.

In Japan, some 50 aquariums keep around 600 dolphins and take many of the Taiji dolphins, with business also coming from many aquariums abroad, including a growing number in China.

Follow Tim Zimmermann on Twitter and Facebook.

Updated 1/29

63 comments
cheryl Bernstein
cheryl Bernstein

Heartbreaking that this baby will spend what little life she has as a prisoner in a dirty tank in godforsaken land, "cared" for people who clearly dont care for her or any of her species. She can never be released again into the wild - to what? No family and because she is white, as prey to sharks and killer whales.  What a tragedy this is. Praying that a Tsunami once again devastates Japan - when will they learn that the world is tired of their lies and deceit not only that the yearly dophin murders are traditional, but also that the whale hunts are done under the guise of research.  The Japanese are a cruel and heartless nation on the whole and I for one will never support or purchase anything made in Japan as my own personal protest against this ongoing cruelty.

Val Tobler
Val Tobler

 Angel was BRUTALY captured,  her mother killed herself or was slaughtered by the japanese fishermen who are monsters, this is such a atrocity to mankind. These dolphins do not belong to the japanese, they belong to the ocean. This killings of mass dolphins will affect the world, these beautiful mammals are to be protected and preserved not stabbed with spears and slaughtered with knives. Taiji is a place of disgust and the people there are asleep to what is happening, WAKE UP JAPANESE!. Why is not the Japan leaders doing something, instead they are holding on to their lies they tell the world that this is japanese tradition, Liars, this is not tradition, this is about money, greed, and money. The activist in taiji are showing us the truth, we see the truth with our own eyes and its a nightmare,  and beyond heartbreaking. Keep writing letters, siging petitions, we cant turn our backs on these beautiful dolphins. Angel is the poster child now, and her freedom is of the utmost important, she will die in her tiny japanes prison,no mother now, no pod to protect her, SHAME, SHAME ON YOU JAPAN!!!

Diane Lorenz
Diane Lorenz

Why not have several divers go out at night and take down the nets?

Media Dewi
Media Dewi

Actually, I agree with what you've said here. I hope we all know and realize about the cruelty that is happening now. Sharing and telling this to other people, friends and family are good. But the question is, what can we and what should we do to stop all of these cruelty as soon as possible before it's too late?


And to make them, the people who kill, realize that things they always do for many years by killing animals are totally wrong.

Matthew Roscoe
Matthew Roscoe

Not taking sides with anyone - just playing the devil's advocate. Here goes. 


no. 1 you are a beef cow held in captivity since birth and fed/kept alive for the purpose of being readied for human consumption 


no. 2 you are an albino bottle nosed dolphin held in captivity after a hunt and fed/kept alive for the purpose of attracting visitors to an aquarium 


Someone, please explain to me why no.2 is outrageous while no. 1 is not. 


Logic, please. 

Zac Lazarou
Zac Lazarou

An old practice fueled by money and the demand of the general public of these regions who are just as much to blame. 


They need to be educated with a better sense of perception on the ethical implications & the consequential outcomes inflicted upon these animals.


And the comment made by the Assistant Director of the museum; 


"Albinos stand out and tend to be targeted by predators," said Taiji Whale Museum Assistant Director Tetsuya Kirihata in a statement, according to some media reports. "She must have been protected by her mother and her mates. We will take good care of her."


Does he not realize the "predators" are the humans he paid off to capture her? If his so called "institute" really cared about the welfare of Angel or in fact the welfare of all wild Dolphins then surely efforts would have been taken in the conservation and protection of these animals in their natural habitat?  


All he cares about (as well as other museums/aquariums alike) is the money going into the back of his pocket and how much profit can be made from the general public to view such a rare spectacle. 



CP Pang
CP Pang

After a slaughter in front of the calf now they took the young albino calf into marine park for Japanese entertainment?? Well Done! Japanese!!

Rhyan Rudman
Rhyan Rudman

Stop this cruel practice..... I prefer to see Dolphins in the ocean, if Japan carries on like this we will have none to see. Greed over powers common logic. 

Gladys Patterson
Gladys Patterson

OUTRAGE!!!!!! IS WHAT I FEEL, like the other comments.  Is there anything we can do?

Marcela Bonini
Marcela Bonini

This is so BARBARIC I cannot even begin to think about what to write !! according to witnesses reports this calf's mom COMMITTED SUICIDE !!!! after her baby was captured ! How SAD and totally devastating is that? and now they don t know if they can nurse it back to freedom??? SO WRONG !!! and the japanese government is fully aware of this, on all levels.

Janine Linder
Janine Linder

Dolphin Eulogy

Janine Laggren Linder


Sleek silver bodies glide effortlessly

           through the effervescing surf,

Like Japanese maidens, coyly they mask their deeper feelings—

            feelings without words.

Swimming, suspended—individual sparks of one mind—

Flowing through great seas and tidal basins,

            knowing only the boundaries that land imposes.

Flowing, they eat, they play, they sleep, they dance,

           make love.

Each thing a part of the next and of the last;

            always in its right time and place.

Yin-flowing energy,

            poetry in motion and harmony in thought,.

Their beautiful bodies lie broken—

            lying dead in the water, lying on ship decks.

Slaughtered and abused by short-sighted Man.

Their last breath caught on the four winds

            might say, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Janine Linder
Janine Linder

Dolphin Eulogy

Janine Laggren Linder

Sleek silver bodies glide effortlessly

            through the effervescing surf,

Perpetual Puckish grins conceal

            a natural knowing of Greater Truths—

Truths humankind has yet to know.

Like Japanese maidens, coyly they mask their deeper feelings—

            feelings without words.

Swimming, suspended—individual sparks of one mind—

            the porpoise mind.

Sparks connected by bonds of race memory, need

            and perhaps, telepathy!

Flowing through great seas and tidal basins,

            knowing only the boundaries that land imposes.

Flowing, they eat, they play, they sleep, they dance

            they make love.

Each thing a part of the next and of the last;

            always in its right time and place.

Yin-flowing energy,

            poetry in motion and harmony in thought.

Six million of their beautiful bodies lie broken—

            lying on beaches, lying on ship decks.

Slaughtered and laid in mass graves by short-sighted Man,

            their brother.

Their last breath caught on the four winds

            echoes with familiar-sounding words,

“Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

###

Marc Holloway
Marc Holloway

That poor calf heard it's family & friends cries as they were murdered and tasted their blood before manhandled into boats, the streets it went through I'm surprised it survived......no new images have come from the aquarium since capture and it wouldn't surprised me if it's already been cut up for food.......I seriously hope that all dolphins murdered have above levels of toxic mercury slowly poisoning those who ate them.....serves them right

Sue Ferguson
Sue Ferguson

This poor baby should be with it's family learning to survive ,not becoming yet another statistical showpiece.

Shannon Stacey
Shannon Stacey

Everything about these barbaric traditions makes me sick to my stomach and utterly ashamed to be part of the "human" race. I am filled with so much sadness imagining how much those poor dolphins suffer! Trapped and disorientated, hearing the screams of family members as they're butchered by horrible senseless, uncaring people! :(

Ziggy Pop
Ziggy Pop

These people are perverse in taking this little dolphin captive, and no one is buying this "museums" pathetic behavior, strictly out of greed, and then killing her mother.  

This is NOT tradition, culture or honorable.  It is a national shame for Japan.



Yoysy Olivero
Yoysy Olivero

Delfin Albino Enseña Al Hombre Amor. Respeto Y Dignidad. Está Esperando Su Inmediata Libertad.

Wendy Little
Wendy Little

She was doing well before she was kidnapped from her Mother and pod! The shame of Japan. And most of the pod was killed (a few were 'set free') - not magically set free with rainbows and a Hollywood soundtrack.

Erma LaDouche
Erma LaDouche

"We will take care of her."  Like they care about this rare animal as anything more than something to be exploited!   If they had wanted to "take care of her" they wouldn't have butchered her mother on the beach after kidnapping her from her family.   The trainers from Taiji select the animals they'll keep to sell, and then the rest are brutally, painfully killed slowly while the captives watch and listen.    It's a disgusting act of cruelty.

S Howe
S Howe

Dear Mr Zimmerman,  


The quote "They drove the surviving pod members back out to sea, according to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society."  IS INCORRECT.


The fisherman DID NOT drive the remaining pod out to sea.  They remaining pod was slaughtered in the most inhumane way.  It may be of interest to you to watch one of the live broadcast of Sea shepherd.  They broadcast daily the Taiji fisherman herding dolphins pods into shallow waters, pick a few prized specimens and then slaughtering the rest, adults, juveniles and babies!

I would like to request that you re-write your article so that the human world are not under the misapprehension that the dolphins are free'd because they are certainly not.
Thanks

Cynthia Carlson
Cynthia Carlson

BOYCOTT ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING JAPANESE. SHAME THEM INTO OBLIVION. 

Jan Hershberger
Jan Hershberger

Same goes with the oceans and when there are no animals for sport then what?  What will one eat?   How will the world remain in balance?  Everything acts and reacts amongst and between one another to keep all in check except follish man!

Jan

Jan Hershberger
Jan Hershberger

To whom it may concern, one is destroying this planet and everything contained within which then will eventually consume you!.  I recently purview ed a man in Alaska using a bulldozer to move his house.  He cut down the biggest, choicest trees for rollers and succeeded. and those who were paid to help him were satisfied.  Then another neighbor stated he wanted to build a fence around his house to keep the animals out.  And he did so.  And then the another neighbor spoke: I need fire wood and when they were done there was nothing left.  Now just wherein does one suppose those animals which thrived there are going to go and just what are they going to eat and wherein are they going to live?  One has become a foolish nation not to consider the words of the LORD God of: not to cut down the food producing trees and not to destroy the flora as once ones resources run dry then what will one do?  Yes everything man sets his hands upon are all backed by ones resources and once this well is dry so is everyone else as well!  Oh foolish nation of no understanding for sure! 

Jan

Victo A.
Victo A.

This is too sad. That this baby dolphin's mom and other dolphins protected it for over a year just to be slaughtered themselves for meat is beyond comprehension. 


I believe Japan has maintained its homogeneous culture to the detriment of the world as a whole. They have closed themselves off to the changing values of the rest of the world. The are blind and deaf to world protests and the collective sadness at what they are doing. Motivated by greed and the arrogant unwillingness to change, they are locked in a 18th-century vision of dolphins and whales as nothing more than resources for fuel and food, and as objects of trade, while the people of most other developed countries have progressed in their thinking, recognizing that these are intelligent animals with larger brains than us, capable of emotion and knowledge--the extent to which we have yet fully grasped. 


I find it interesting that Iceland is also a fairly homogeneous place, and they, too, kill whales.

Kye Sangha
Kye Sangha

If the Taiji museum was going to "take good care of her" then perhaps they should not have started that process by drive hunting her pod, ripping her from her mother, stressing her mother out so badly that she spy hopped and called for her calf for 20 minutes in a blood and corpse filled pen before diving to her death, and then brutally killing 1/3 of her pod for meat & then isolating her in a tank without any of her pod mates. These actions are brutal and stupid, if, indeed, they actually care about her welfare. These people are not fit to take care of any animal and should be banned from all further dolphin activities.

Monica Chambers
Monica Chambers

Tim you didn't mention the brutal, painful method used to slaughter dolphins. You didn't mention the slaughter at all. and then Naomi Rose Angel the albino calf can't go back in the wild now, she have no one she will surely die. She can't take care of herself, her mother is dead, she can't fend for herself now, HER MOTHER IS DEAD, she can't feed herself or learn to hunt HER MOTHER IS DEAD. If they have any care about dolphins they should have kept her with her mother.

Katie Elizebeth
Katie Elizebeth

@cheryl Bernstein  Not everyone in Japan eats dolphin or whale it is a very small group of people i think its less than 9% and the meat itself has such high levels of mercury if a pregnant woman consumes enough of it it can harm the unborn child and have severe birth defects as well. Japan has such a rich and amazing culture you let one piece ruin the whole picture, no culture is perfect or even close to perfect. And not just Japan hunts whales and dolphin so do parts of Europe for food as well so i will assume you will protest them as well without even trying to understand what else the culture is like. Yes whale and dolphin hunting should stop but what you say and how you feel makes it ten times worse.

Sasha W
Sasha W

@cheryl Bernstein That's a cruel and awful thing to say about the Japanese nation as a whole. You have no idea how devastating the tsunami was for Japan. I was there during the earthquake and everyone was kind and supportive of each other. Not everyone acts like the inhumane dolphin slaughterers, and you're a bigot if you truly think we're all that heartless. I'm actually Japanese, and like many other Japanese people, my heart aches for the poor dolphins who are massacred pointlessly. Only an extremely  small portion of the country actually supports this cruel and barbaric practice against dolphins, so it's completely ignorant of you to generalise so broadly. Babies, toddlers, and small children were killed in that tsunami, and for you to wish another tsunami on this poor country is simply horrid. In the future, please think before you spew your ignorant nonsense out on the internet. What you said was just wrong on so many different levels. 

Eric Mills
Eric Mills

@Matthew Roscoe Bad analogy.  Both practices are unacceptable.


Reportedly, the folks at Taiji are now planning a facility where one can frolic with the dolphins, then dine on their cousins afterwards.

Paul Matich
Paul Matich

@Matthew Roscoe  When was the last time a cow saved a human in trouble in a paddock. There are countless stories of dolphins saving humans in trouble in the ocean. Is it because they have human type intelligence?

Laura Lewis
Laura Lewis

@Erma LaDouche Absolutely horrifically evil. I read that "Angel's" mother dove deep into the sea and did not resurface, killing herself after her special albino babe, deaf and blind, had been ripped from her side. These intelligent, sensitive, and ever so "humane" animals deserve our respect and protection. They have given that to us since the dawn of time. The depletion of dolphin and orca will cause the shark population to soar and to seek food closer to our shores. As if Japan's nuclear waste leakage into the Pacific Ocean is not horrible enough, add this. Shame.


Rhian Forrest
Rhian Forrest

@S HoweOn this occasion with the 250+ bottlenose dolphin Superpod the remaining dolphins were driven back out to sea. Yes it is rare for the fishermen to do this and it may be misleading. However on the article is factual. 


Marc Holloway
Marc Holloway

Sadly most things you have around you were either designed or made by Japan......the only way to stop this utter cruelty is to make more people aware, sign petitions, write letters and tell your friends & family.....

Marc Holloway
Marc Holloway

You don't have to believe in God to know what's right or wrong...they look for loopholes in national laws to do what they want and to hell with anyone who interferes.....

Whales & dolphins don't belong to any country, they belong to us all on Earth, they wont be able to replace what they've taken and the species will be extinct if this continues......

Tell your friends & families of what they are doing and we may, just may stop it.

Matthew Roscoe
Matthew Roscoe

@Eric Mills @Matthew Roscoe  Hi Eric. I believe so too - both practices are abominable.


Not sure why it's a bad analogy. I tried to compare 2 animals held and fed in a captive state with different beginnings and outcomes. Did I fail?


If both practices are unacceptable, why does everybody on this page seem to feel so enraged only by the dolphin captors? 

Matthew Roscoe
Matthew Roscoe

@Paul Matich @Matthew Roscoe  

Thanks for the reply Paul.

Putting aside the difficulty of imagining humans encountering life-threatening situations in a paddock, according to you, dolphins may have "human type" intelligence. Even if this were true, you are saying that we should be nice to smart animals, and feel free to butcher dumb ones. I don't believe this is your intention, however. 


Besides, we humans are very arrogant about intelligence. We only accept the types of intelligence we can relate with, in our image. 


Any ideas?

Ziggy Pop
Ziggy Pop

@Rhian Forrest@S HoweWhat was left was driven out and many of those are found dead, and indeed, one they captured died, and one that was injured/sick they dragged it out to sea and left it to drown/die. 



Erma LaDouche
Erma LaDouche

@Rhian Forrest @S Howe 40 kept for sale, 50 butchered - the rest, juveniles and those either not big enough to waste a quota for were driven back out.  After 4 days without food, many injured as the "fishermen" drove their boats back and forth over the pod.  I wonder how many will end up living.  

Matthew Roscoe
Matthew Roscoe

@Julie May

Julie, thanks. I am not trying to argue, and I love all animals. Not just dolphins. Only trying to put things on a different perspective. 


"...but a dolphin or whale will feel the loss of a family member like we would" - Julie, this is an assumption. There is no way of verifying your claim beyond a reasonable doubt. Humans have a tendency of personifying animals that we feel close to, but this does not guarantee they feel or think like we do. 


Again, even IF what you say is true, you are stating that we should care for animals that seem to display human-like emotional intelligence and cognitive capabilities, while feeling no remorse about butchering and slaughtering the rest. 

Julie May
Julie May

@Matthew Roscoe @Paul Matich  


The physical pain is of course equally as bad for both dolphins and cows, the difference is that dolphins are more aware of family bonds, the fact that this dolphins mother and its pod will ALWAYS miss this baby is heart breaking, a cow will of course feel physical pain the same way, but a dolphin or whale will feel the loss of a family member like we would, if the same awfulness happened to us. I believe that is what makes it so tragic

Rhian Forrest
Rhian Forrest

The sea shepherd update for this event was 52 captives taken, 41 deaths and 130-140 bottlenose dolphins driven back out to sea. A few days later a number if dolphins were discovered dead in the sea pens.

The fatalities from starvation, stress and grief is unknown for those poor souls driven back out.

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