Marine Mammal Monday – Review: The Voice of the Dolphins by Hardy Jones

It’s been a while since I wrote anything for Marine Mammal Monday (MMM), what with holidays & the death of my WIFI. MMM is when I will be taking a more serious tone. People need to be aware of the crap we are putting our oceans, the ocean’s inhabitants & ultimately ourselves, through. With this in mind, today I will be writing a book review… The one I promised to write a couple of weeks back.

The book in question is The Voice of the Dolphins by Hardy Jones

Don’t be put off by the title. This is not a hippy, hug-a-dolphin kind of book. No, it is Hardy’s personal voyage through dolphin activism, dolphin research & the illness that so closely links him to these marine denizens…

Hardy’s weapon in combating the abuse of dolphins, & their kin, is the camera lens & his first battle field was that created by the tuna industry. I myself remember seeing the horrific footage of dolphins being caught up in the massive purse seine nets & being crushed to death in the boat’s machinery. It was one of the catalysts that made me become a marine mammalogist. And Hardy himself was there… filming this wholesale slaughter. It was the resulting outcry at this treatment of cetaceans by the tuna industry that lead to the introduction of “dolphin safe” tuna.

The next call to arms was created by the annual dolphin slaughters in Japan. Two little towns, one called Iki, the other Taiji. To the inhabitants of Iki the once revered dolphins were now a “pest”. Mouths that took from the same dwindling fish stocks as the village’s inhabitants. The only course of action, kill the competition. Through film & public pressure the slaughter in the town of Iki ceased. In Taiji this slaughter continues unabated, with the small cetaceans seen as either food or highly profitable prisoners for dolphinaria. These days the perpetrators try & hide the truth from the camera’s eye.

The book is not all about the death that Hardy filmed. Between moments of brutality are the glorious days he spent with a pod of friendly, free swimming dolphins in the Bahamas. His mission, to research & show the more personal side of dolphins; their intelligence, their unique personalities & their social structure. In doing so he hoped that by showing the world that these animals were more than just unthinking pests or food that the tide would turn in favour of protecting these animals.

The final theme of this book is Hardy’s own battle with an illness that would see his life inextricably linked with that of marine mammals throughout the world. All the toxins we pump into the air, on to the land & into the sea doesn’t just disappear. It is a sad fact that, thanks to bioaccumulation, many cetaceans found stranded on the shore have to be disposed of as toxic waste. The level of contaminants in them, along with other large predatory fish, is much greater than is safe for human consumption. The seemingly healthy diet of fish that Hardy had been eating was, in actual fact, slowly poisoning him. This eventually led to Hardy being diagnosed with the cancer myeloma… a disease (amongst others) that is increasingly being found in marine mammals.

There are many people who regularly eat dolphin & whale meat & not just in Japan. The damage these peoples are doing to their health is only now starting to be understood. It is the hope of the author that it is this information that will eventually stop the types of slaughter seen in Taiji. Hopefully, before it is too late for man & dolphin.


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