Cove Guardians - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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

December 21, 2010

Report from Taiji: December 21

A bottlenose dolphin in captivity at the Whale MuseumA bottlenose dolphin in captivity at the Whale MuseumFinally, a much needed one-day break in the ongoing dolphin slaughter in Taiji. Today, the hunters returned to harbor at approximately 9:30 a.m. without any dolphins to torture and murder. I can only imagine what it must be like for the fishermen as they do the “walk of shame” past the Cove, the promontory, or one of the many other lookouts the Cove Guardians frequent. They know we’re watching them. I have no doubt that they can feel our eyes upon them as they file into port. And I have no doubt whatsoever that they absolutely loathe every second when they return empty-handed.

Of all kill-free days, the hunters picked no better day than today because today is Cove Guardian Nicole’s birthday. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to witness mass murder on the day of your birth and I’m thankful that Nicole didn’t have to find out. Instead, today was a day of celebration. We spent time together at a Japanese onsen (hot springs) and reflected on the sights we have shared while in Taiji town. For each of us, it feels as though we have spent a lifetime together, and in a way, I suppose we have. We all traveled here alone, without fully knowing what to expect, and we found kindred spirits. We found people like ourselves who share a passion for wildlife, nature and conservation. I’m sure everyone reading this knows someone that simply doesn’t understand the desire to preserve, conserve, and protect. It’s a horrible feeling to have someone you love think you’re ridiculous for being passionate about the earth and tragically, I’ve seen that misunderstanding tear families apart.

A worker shows Nicole a new sign at the CoveA worker shows Nicole a new sign at the CoveThe important thing to remember is that with humanity comes the right to choose our beliefs freely. Human beings will never see eye to eye on all topics and forcing your opinion or beliefs upon another will in no way produce a favorable result for either party involved. A perfect example is the friction between the Cove Guardians and the dolphin molesters. The dynamic between the two groups is an interesting one and I wonder what will come of it in the long run. A few days ago, I approached one of the fishermen while he stood at the Cove, perhaps on his day off, watching his co-workers drive dolphins. I had a translator with me and I had something very specific that I wanted to say to this man. When I tried to get his attention, he simply would not acknowledge me. I was speaking Japanese to him and still I was hitting a brick wall. I told the translator what I wished to say and asked him to say it to this man’s back, knowing that he would at least hear the words. My words were not harsh, they were not critical, and they certainly were not hateful, yet the fishermen still would pay no attention. I know, however, that the words reached him because today when we saw him he made eye contact with me and slightly bowed, which is something that rarely happens, unless Private Space is shooting daggers at you via his eyes from behind his video camera.

This is a very small step, but a step nonetheless. Perhaps before the end of the season the fishermen will be open to hearing our side of this fight. Change starts with one person. However, sometimes the most challenging feat is knowing which person is the right person to instigate change. Even if you fail a thousand times, the only thing to do is try again and eventually, you will see the change that you desire.

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

The Cove Guardians at a Japanese onsenThe Cove Guardians at a Japanese onsen

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.