Hong Kong Airlines accused of profiting from "flying Taiji dolphin coffins"

A recent article in China Daily pointed to charges that Hong Kong Airlines "has been accused of profiting from animal cruelty by striking a HK$850,000 deal to fly live dolphins from Japan to Vietnam."

Why were they headed to Vietnam? Because, Dolphin: it's what's for dinner.

The dolphins in question are captured at Taiji, a dolphin-hunt site in Japan made famous by Sea Shepherd's actions, and the film The Cove.

Sandy McElhaney at Examiner.com (an open publishing platform, not a newspaper as the name may suggest) wrote this interesting post about the China Daily article, and a Change.org petition followed. There are a few scattered press reports, but they don't include much direct sourcing beyond the China Daily piece so far. Hong Kong airlines has issued a weak statement that denies responsibility for any wrongdoing, profiteering or animal abuse.

For what it's worth, China Daily is not exactly a free and independent press outlet, but known for more Western-style journalism than other state-owned papers in China.

(image via Hong Kong Airlines.)


  1. I dunno, from a pure culinary standpoint, this sounds like a hoax. First off, I suspect dolphin doesn’t taste that great. I imagine it tastes somewhere between shark and whale. Shark is good but whale is SO NOT worth it. Second, the sheer stress of flying these poor creatures would ruin any sort of tastiness they had. Third, at that price they could get a whole lot more exotic creatures to eat. I suspect these animals are being shipped for a SeaWorld-type attraction where that kind of expenditure would make more sense.

      1.  They are not talking about mahi-mahi, called dolphinfish or dolphin.  These are bottlenose dolphins.  Flipper.  Tursiops.  Not tasty. 

    1. “Strike a deal” to me infers contract, which is more likely to mean X number of flights over X amount of time than it is to mean $850,000.00 per flight.

      The number of flights in east Asia is astounding and the competition is fierce. As well, 850,000.00 HKD is about 100,000.00 USD. 

      Even if it is per delivery, which is highly unlikely, (really really unlikely) if dolphin is a luxury commodity that delivery cost is recouped with the addition of a few bucks per KG to the end user. Profit for the commodity broker and buyer is likely unaffected, increased in fact, as any real world mechanism that gives a reason to boost the commodity price to the end user, like scarcity, can be reflected 10x to the end user without deflecting sales.

    2. I ate dolphin in Japan, just because I wanted to taste it. 
      I have to admit it wasn’t that easy to find dolphin in Japan, even though my wife is Japanese and clearly knows how to find stuff.Well, dolphin tastes a lot like whale, as you said, and it’s not worth eating.

      I don’t know if they prefer to be eaten or swim in water parks.
      We should ask them. Since they’re very clever, they must be able to answer.

        1. Given what they call “oysters” in the middle of the country, I can only imagine what they’re calling “dolphin.”

  2. Could someone find where in the article they suggest the dolphins will be eaten?  To me it clearly said they were being sent to performing dolphin shows in water parks. 

     If they’re not food dolphins it really comes down to the barbarity of their source and the discomfort of their transport.  While it would freak a person out to be transported in a coffin shaped box, I don’t know exactly how dolphins feel.  I bet there’s competition for low-mortality dolphin transport; I know that doesn’t translate exactly to low-stress but this isn’t gleeful dolphin torture either.

  3. So if they did it pro bono everything would have been okay?  Or are you just suppose to ship animals via ground freight only?  (Looks like the quickest way would be best IMO.)

  4. Anthropomorphism.

    _________ Airlines “has been accused of profiting from animal cruelty by striking a $________ deal to fly live ______from ______to ______.” 

    We see on the news often the greed presented when live animals are transported to staff the worlds zoos.  My point is, are these dolphins transported differently than other dolphins, no  matter the reason? And why aren’t there articles about how other live animals are transported? 

    Anthropomorphism is creature specific, especially if they played a lead roll in a movie or sitcom; does Free Willy and Flipper sound familiar? 

    Food is Food, many restaurants around the world have live seafood delivered to them on a daily basis. How about that lobster tank at your local seafood eatery? I think it’s cruel to bind their hands and force them to watch diners eating their kin. 

    1.  People are edible. 
      In fact “long pig”, I was told, is yummy. 

      We should be careful not to anthropomorphize people. 
      Or else they may take them off the market. 

  5. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Give a man a stick of dynamite and a lighter and he will eat for several more days.

    Just take the fish and fuck off buddy, jesus christ.

  6. Serious Asshole is the best kind to encounter in the wild. All puckered up and tense. What you want to watch out for is Laughing Asshole or, the worst, Crying Asshole. Because that shit gets messy fast./true story ;)

  7. After a few sleepless nights on some of the darker parts of the web, eating dolphins ( if that is what’s really happening here) seems tame by comparison. Not to go into too many details, but there appears to be a disconcerting appetite for “live” flesh from all manner of creatures.

  8. My brother just saw some dolphins in the spectacularly kitch “cultural theme park” called Suoi Tien Park – just outside Saigon! He had video of them performing when I skyped him on Friday – we both wondered how they would have legitimately got hold of them!!??

  9. Oh yes, please China Daily, give us the fair unbiased scoop. 

    There are dolphin parks all over Japan and the rest of Asia where dolphins are lovingly raised, well fed, and allowed to interact with visitors all over the country. I just went to one not a month ago.Another fun fact: almsot nobody here in Japan even eats whale or dolphin… but nevermind, the west certainly knows best when it comes to telling the world how to behave. The US, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand are exemplary models of how to treat mammals. PS – note that this is reported by the China-fucking-daily. Of course they are going to tweak Japan’s nose at every turn if it means that the world will turn a blind eye to the environmental perversions of the “people’s” republic. Pretending to care about dolphins while they skewer Tibetans… really.

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