Cove Guardians - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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

December 19, 2010

Report from Taiji: December 19

A dolphin killer hides his face from the cameraA dolphin killer hides his face
from the camera
Another day, another slaughter. Again, an estimated 10 Risso’s dolphins were driven into the Cove and had their lives viciously torn away from them. At the rate these men work, soon there will be no dolphins left in the ocean. What will Taiji do when they’ve wiped the sea clean? Will they then figure out a more sustainable way to support themselves or will they simply starve to death because they don’t know how to do anything other than kill innocent creatures?

The other day, I sat down with a Japanese friend and he shared with me some interesting information. He had done extensive online research and had discovered that the allowable number of dolphins that can be killed annually in Japan is based on data from 1993. According to his research, a study on dolphin population has not been conducted since that year. If it’s true that no research has been done in the past 17 years, this means that anywhere from 350,000 to 400,000 dolphins are being counted into the population when in fact, they have been dead for a long time.

In my own online research, I found a statement by Miyato Sugimori, administrative chief of Taiji town Fisheries Association, claiming that dolphin meat only sells for 1,000 Yen per kilogram and that the lowest grade tuna sells for three times that amount. It’s no secret then that the big bucks come from the captive trade. However, if the average captive dolphin sells for US $150,000, why then did the Taiji Fisheries Association, according to Tokyo Shoko Research, file for bankruptcy in 2007, claiming to be 230 million Yen (US $2,734,189) in debt?

In the world of politics and government corruption, it seems to me that perhaps these fishermen are simply pawns on Taiji Mayor Sangen’s chessboard. The truth is that we don’t know how much of the money from captive sales the fishermen themselves are seeing. But in a struggling town like Taiji, I can’t imagine these fishermen are bringing home any serious bacon (or should I say dolphin?).

It goes without saying then, that the key to shutting down the dolphin slaughter permanently is to stop the demand for captive dolphins. These beings are taken from their home, separated from their families, and placed into a tiny pool of chlorinated water and forced to push aside their depression and perform degrading tricks in order to eat. This simply is no life for a complex creature; a creature that is just as intelligent as humans, more so in some cases, and has almost the exact DNA structure that we do. If we band together and stop the demand, then the supply will have no choice but to cease as well.

Bloody hand prints mark the top of the rope on which dead bodies hang, hidden below the waterlineBloody hand prints mark the top of the rope
on which dead bodies hang, hidden
below the waterline
Here is your opportunity to become a Cove Guardian.  To join us in Taiji (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

After the gutting is finished, a fisherman rinses the blood from his glovesAfter the gutting is finished,
a fisherman rinses the blood
from his gloves
Blood pours from the scupper of a skiff while gutted bodies are being transfered to the butcher houseBlood pours from the scupper of a skiff
while gutted bodies are being
transfered to the butcher house

Nicole, who will be assisting me during the next three months, will share her experiences while in Taiji on her blog.
Rupert Imhoff, who is also assisting with this campaign, has started a YouTube channel of video taken during his time in Taiji.
Scott’s daughter, Elora Malama West, who assisted him, will continue her blog from home.