By Julie MacInnes for Humane Society International/Canada
As a child, I remember going to an aquarium and watching the dolphins perform tricks in a showroom tank. I was struck by the contrast between these majestic, intelligent creatures and the cruel, concrete walls of the tank meant to confine them.
Today is World Animal Day (#WorldAnimalDay). A day to celebrate the furry, feathered, scaled and slippery animals that enrich our lives. It is also an important opportunity to speak out against inhumane treatment to animals and ensure their protection.
Marine animals are vital to sustain healthy oceans and the future of our planet. In fact, more than 70 per cent of all oxygen is generated from our world’s oceans. Having a harmonious relationship with our oceans and marine creatures is paramount for our long-term survival. Yet, whales, dolphins and sharks are continually treated as disposable commodities that are ours to use for profit, entertainment and food.
Every September, dolphins are rounded up and brutally slaughtered off the coast of Taiji, Japan. A few are caught alive and sold to aquariums. And although the International Whaling Commission has banned the commercial whale hunt since 1986, more than 40,000 whales have been killed since then, mainly by Japan, Iceland and Norway, with Japan claiming it is done for “research” purposes.
As for sharks, every year in oceans around the world, tens of millions of them are condemned to a slow and painful death from the cruel and wasteful practice of shark-finning. Most of these animals have their fins removed while they are still alive. The shark is then thrown back into the water to endure an excruciating death from suffocation, blood loss, or predation by other species. The fins are served in a luxury shark fin soup. Recent DNA tests done around Vancouver found that 76 per cent of the fins came from species that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has identified as Threatened or Near Threatened.
Many countries continue to allow the importation of products of shark-finning into their borders as well as permit the captivity of whales and dolphins. However, the tides are turning. Increasingly, the public and politicians alike are aware of how important marine life and ecosystems are. For example, the Canadian Senate has an “Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act” going through committee as I write.
What can help keep this momentum going to protect marine animals? Your actions. Send your local government representatives a message that you stand up for animals. Avoid spending your money on exploitative shark-finning products, such as shark fin soup. Spread the word to your family and friends on these steps to take to help the animals, such as speaking out against the dolphin hunts in Taiji and cruel commercial whaling.
On this World Animal Day, and all other 364 days of the year, be a marine life and ocean ecosystem protector.
Julie MacInnes is Campaign Manager for Humane Society International/Canada.
Humane Society International is one of the only global animal protection organizations working to help all animals—including animals in laboratories, animals on farms, companion animals and wildlife. Learn more about what we do.