[MARMAM] Potential welfare impacts of chase and capture on small cetaceans

Courtney Vail courtvail at msn.com
Wed Mar 6 11:07:58 PST 2019

Dear all,

My co-authors and I are pleased to share our recent publication with you:

Vail, C. S., Reiss, D., Brakes, P., & Butterworth, A. (2019). Potential welfare impacts of chase and capture of small cetaceans during drive hunts in Japan. The Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, February 26, 2019.  DOI: 10.1080/10888705.2019.1574576

The paper presents scientific data detailing the physiological, behavioral, and socio-ecological impacts of chase, herding and capture of small cetaceans. In the drive hunts in Taiji, Japan these methods are employed during the acquisition of live dolphins for some international marine parks and aquaria. The paper raises substantial welfare and conservation concerns regarding the methods used for the acquisition of live dolphins from the wild for marine parks and contends that the methods used are inherently inhumane and therefore should be discontinued.


Drive hunts are a method to herd, capture and kill small cetaceans in coastal waters of some countries including Japan and the Faroe Islands. In Japan, these methods are often associated with the acquisition of live dolphins for international marine parks and aquaria. During the hunts, dolphins are herded by a flotilla of fishing vessels and loud underwater noise created by fishermen banging hammers on metal poles. The prolonged and strenuous chase and use of sound barriers to herd, capture, and restrain the dolphins can result in acute stress and injury. The authors review physiological and behavioral data pertaining to chase, encirclement, and live capture of dolphins and draw comparisons between chase and capture data for marine and terrestrial species. This analysis raises substantial welfare concerns associated with the hunts and acquisition of dolphins from such capture operations. The authors assert that this data detailing the negative impacts of chase, herding and handling (capture) of small cetaceans renders these hunts inherently inhumane and should inform policy relating to the collection and management of dolphins in the wild.

The article is available for download here (open access until May 31, 2019): https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10888705.2019.1574576

Additional footage illustrating aspects of the hunts, obtained and provided by DolphinProject.com in partnership with Life Investigation Agency (LIA), can be found at the following link:  https://vimeo.com/320425403

For any inquiries, please contact: courtney at lightkeepersfoundation.com<mailto:courtney at lightkeepersfoundation.com> or dlr28 at columbia.edu<mailto:dlr28 at columbia.edu>


Courtney, Diana, Philippa and Andy

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