Cove Guardians - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Sea Shepherd's Dolphin Defense Campaign in Taiji, Japan Donate Now

December 9, 2010

Report from Taji: December 9

A trainer works with a dolphin at Dolphin BaseA trainer works with a dolphin at Dolphin BaseWe headed out this morning at 6:30 a.m. and counted, once again, 11 boats out and one in the harbor. Again, the crew of the twelfth banger boat was in a skiff and this time headed toward the gutting barge to do some work on the ever-present blue tarps.

From the promontory, we were able to see the bangers just in from the horizon. The wind was starting to pick up and the water was choppy. They sat in formation, every now and again chasing after white caps, thinking they were dolphins.

We headed to the Cove to see Scott and Elora off, take more group photos and scan for the boats. Apparently chasing phantoms became frustrating because the banger boats headed back into the harbor just before 8 a.m., empty-handed. It was a good day in Taiji town and a great way to end Scott and Elora’s three-month stay in Japan.

Emotions ran high and goodbyes were long and tear-filled. Together, we are soldiers on a battlefield and the bonding that happens here is something I’ve never experienced before. All the Cove Guardians come together as strangers, passionate about the same cause and end our time together as family, bonded beyond belief.  Saying goodbye was difficult for everyone, but saying goodbye to the Cove itself was difficult for Scott and Elora. They have so much time, energy, blood, sweat and tears invested into this campaign and I can only imagine what walking away must feel like. Knowing that they will be involved from home is a reassurance for everyone.

Elora takes a moment to say goodbyeElora takes a moment to say goodbye Scott & Elora saying goodbye to the CoveScott & Elora saying goodbye to the Cove

With the departure of Scott, Elora, Thomas and Rupert, comes a new and interesting dynamic at the Cove. For the first time, we have an all-female crew. Women never cease to amaze me and this group, I’m sure, will reiterate to the world that being strong, independent and female is very possible.  We are wives, we are mothers, we are daughters and we are women with careers waiting for us back home. But we are also women with a passion and the desire to chase our dreams. Here we are, in a foreign country, fighting for what we believe in. Change is possible and there are five incredible women here that are willing to prove that.

As I took the new Cove Guardians on a tour of Taiji, we stopped at “Dolphin Base” and watched the trainers work with their new pets. Five to six dolphins are crowded into a pen that is roughly 20 x 20 ft in diameter. Here they are fed dead fish and forced to perform tricks, all the while mourning the family members they just witnessed being brutally slaughtered. It baffles me that these trainers are in a profession where they claim to love and respect dolphins but they somehow don’t or can’t comprehend that this lifestyle is horribly wrong for a dolphin. Also, do they not realize that they’re eating the dolphins that weren’t selected for a life of slave labor?

Blind obedience is a shame on the human race. With humanity comes the right to beliefs, opinions, feelings and individuality. But attached to all these is also responsibility. We have a responsibility to stand together and protect what we believe in.

The all-female Cove Guardian crewThe all-female Cove Guardian crew

Scott & Libby saying goodbye at the CoveScott & Libby saying goodbye at the Cove

Here is your opportunity to become a Cove Guardian.  To join in Taiji us (voluntarily, and completely at your own cost and risk), write to us at  We will get back to you, but please be patient.  We cannot keep an eye on the Cove and answer e-mails at the same time.  Contributions to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to keep our official presence here are needed and welcome.  These contributions cover the costs for transport, telephone, equipment, supplies, food, and lodging for the official Sea Shepherd representative.  We will remain here through the end of March and will return for the next season in September 2011.

Thank you to the citizens of Japan who are weighing these issues and beginning to take a stand to solve them.  Thank you to everyone who is on the frontlines of this war.  This is a war to save ourselves from ourselves.  Without your calling and writing Japanese embassies and your own governments, there will be no change.  Keep it up! Every time dolphins are pushed into the Cove, let them have it.  Every time there is blood in the water, let them have it.  Make good consumer choices.  Inform everyone you know about the tragedy here and how it is linked to the captive dolphin trade.  All who patronize a dolphin show have blood on their hands.

For the dolphins,

Libby Katsinis

Nicole, who will be assisting me during the next three months, will share her experiences while in Taiji on her blog.
Scott’s daughter, Elora Malama West, who assisted him, will continue her blog from home.
For information in regards to the IMATA conference, please see the blog of Holise Cleveland.