Cove Guardians - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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

December 20, 2010

Report from Taiji: December 20 (new video)

Trainers at the Whale Museum work with the captive dolphinsTrainers at the Whale Museum work with the captive dolphinsThe days here in Taiji blend together. One day feels like a week. One week feels like a month. No one is really sure what day of the week it is or much less the date. All we know for sure is if the day we are currently living was a slaughter day or not. And today was a slaughter day.

A small pod of six Risso’s dolphins were driven into the Cove and killed within literally a matter of minutes. No sooner had the nets gone up than the hunters were taking them back down. It happened so quickly that had you looked away, you would have missed it. But the Cove Guardians did not look away. We never look away and we are affected by every single soul that departs that Cove before its time.

As far as mass murder is concerned, I suppose today wasn’t an exceptionally brutal day. However, as we solemnly sat around the dinner table, we all agreed that today felt more harrowing that the previous days. Perhaps this is because we’ve now had several days in a row of senseless slaughter and each day we feel more and more helpless. Witnessing tragedy once is enough to break a sane person, but witnessing it day in and day out is bound to take its toll on our minds. I’ve received several e-mails from previous Cove Guardians saying how hard it is to adjust to ‘normal’ life after spending time here. Simply going home and going back to your routine is nearly impossible. For me personally, I no longer worry about the trivial things that seemed so important a few short months ago. Being here has taught me that life is a precious gift that is not to be wasted.

Packaged dolphin meat for sale at the Whale MuseumPackaged dolphin meat for sale at the Whale MuseumI believe today was a much more difficult day because three of the Guardians visited the famed “Whale Museum.” They returned to the hotel with horrifying footage of a dolphin in a sling with IV fluids in its dorsal fin. We can only guess what was being pumped into this dolphin’s body but we do know that captives tend to have weak immune systems. They suffer from ulcers due to the stress of performing, they battle depression due to many factors such as being separated from their families, watching their loved ones slaughtered and living in a confined space. On average, a wild dolphin will live roughly 50 years, whereas a captive dolphin will maybe live five years. I’ve heard rumors that the Taiji Whale Museum has the highest turnover of captive dolphins. Why? Because there’s no need to treat a dolphin humanely; when one dies you simply grab another one from the Cove right around the corner. I do not have any evidence as of yet to back up this theory but it wouldn’t surprise me if it were true.

Perhaps the most disturbing and sickening part of the entire “Whale Museum” experience was that you can purchase dolphin meat in the restaurant and eat it while you watch the captive dolphins perform. I don’t know if that’s twisted irony or blatant disrespect. It seems to me that blatant disrespect doesn’t even come close to explaining what to call this. These trainers are in a profession where they claim to love and revere these near-celestial beings but yet they eat a slab of dolphin meat on their lunch break.

A family pays to touch a captive dolphinA family pays to touch a captive dolphinFrom my observations, it seems clear that the captive industry is the true evil here. Parents need to be aware of the extensive damage they are causing to the dolphin species when they take their child to SeaWorld or any other dolphinarium. Touching or swimming with a dolphin seems to be on the bucket list of many. For once, humans need to put aside their selfish wants and focus on doing something for the greater good.

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

Dolphin hooked up to IV and Floating Dolphin December 20th

Video credit: Pierre Bourbonnais (1 minute)

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.