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Activists to protest dolphin killings at L.A.'s Japanese consulate

October 14, 2010 |  8:38 am

The Japanese consulate in Los Angeles is expected to be one location for worldwide protests Thursday over the annual slaughter of dolphins in Japan.

The event, dubbed International Save Japan Dolphins Day, will focus on dolphin killings and unsafe levels of mercury found in dolphin meat, an indicator of an unhealthful environment for the marine mammals.

Japanese residents who live near the killings -- and who consume dolphin and whale meat -- also test for high levels of mercury.

“This is a human-rights issue as much as an animal-welfare issue,” organizers said in a statement.

The yearly killings were brought to widespread public attention by the award-winning documentary “The Cove” by Ric O'Barry, the former dolphin-trainer for the 1960s "Flipper" TV show.

A 2009 Times article, a follow-up to the film, described how in the small village of Taiji, 2,300 dolphins are steered into a hidden cove. There, the choicest specimens are selected for sale to dolphin parks for $150,000 each. The rest are speared by fishermen in a frenzy of blood and thrashing fins.

Officials of the isolated town on Japan's southeastern coast had long blocked outsiders from observing the kills.

Japanese officials defended the hunts as part of Taiji's fishing culture. Some pointed out Americans do not typically watch the slaughter of pigs and cows in the United States.

The Los Angeles demonstration is scheduled for noon at the Consulate-General of Japan, 350 S. Grand Ave., in downtown L.A. For more information, visit the website of Ten Thirty One Productions.

-- Howard Blume

Photo: Environmental activists protest in front of the Japanese embassy in Manila during International Save Dolphins Day. Credit: Ted Aljibe / AFP / Getty Images