Dolphin meat, as the name suggests is the meat derived from dolphin which is used for consumption. Japan is the biggest consumer of dolphin meat. Approximately 20, 000 dolphins are killed every year in Japan from the months of September to May. Part of this meat is exported every year to different countries of the world. Although the meat of dolphin has been a prominent part of Japanese cuisine, the consumption of this meat is now banned in Japan due to high levels of toxic elements found in these animals which can prove fatal for human beings.
History of Dolphin Meat Consumption
The meat derived from dolphin was eaten in Japan during the Joman period. This period lasted from 7000 BC- 3000BC and the consumption of whales in Japan is said to have started during this time only. The shell mounds containing bones of dolphins and other creatures found in Japan belonging to this period are a proof to it.
The slaughter of dolphins for meat was testified for the first time in 1960. The meat was sold in seventies as Muchame, which was indeed an Italian dish consisting of meat derived from the dorsal of dolphin. Muchame was served as an appetizer. By 1993, the consumption of dolphin meat had increased tremendously and around 15, 000- 20, 000 dolphins were killed yearly.
Threats of Consuming Dolphin Meat
The meat of dolphins, when tested, has shown high levels of cadmium, mercury, DDT and many other organic contaminants. These elements are toxic and are capable of posing serious health risk to the consumers. The meat of dolphins as per the researchers should be avoided totally by pregnant women and children. The high mercury levels can affect the nervous system, hamper memory and even cause insanity, paralysis, coma and death.
Reason for Increased Mercury Level in Dolphin Meat
The reason for increased mercury level in the meat is related to position of dolphins on the food chain. Settled at the top, these whales consume large fish, which eat small fish. The diet of these small fish consists of zooplanktons and algae. The algae absorbs small amount of mercury from the ocean water, but as the level rises the mercury volume keeps increasing. Besides, dolphins live for more number of years when compared to other water creatures and therefore the mercury starts depositing in dolphin’s body. Mercury, gets released on its own from the sea level and is not a matter of concern, but as per the reports of World Health Organization approximately 70% of the mercury released in previous hundred years is an outcome of pollution of ocean and sea waters. This pollution is primarily a result of burning of wastes with high mercury levels and burning of fossil fuels.
Dolphin Meat- Trivia
The Faroese living on the North Atlantic Island refused to give up the meat of dolphin in spite of knowing its hazardous health effects. They have finally settled with the standards issued by Food and Veterinary Agency in which the meat and blubber is allowed once a month and the children and breastfeeding mothers are made to abstain completely.