Cove Guardians - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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

January 31, 2011

Report from Taiji: January 31

Trainers and dolphin hunters stand at the harbor pensTrainers and dolphin hunters stand at the
harbor pens
High winds kept the banger boats in the harbor today. The break was much needed as the past two days have been out of the ordinary. The bizarre days in Taiji, Japan really don’t surprise me much anymore. Even though I never know what to expect, it’s shocking how quickly I became accustomed to the strangeness of this life.

As I mentioned yesterday, Cove Guardians Nicole and Andy followed a transport truck containing three captive Pacific White-Sided Dolphins. The assumption was that the truck would be going to the Kansai International Airport in Osaka, but as is the norm with assumptions, this one was wrong. Nicole and Andy found themselves on a journey of a lifetime that included experiencing a blizzard, a car wreck, and numerous calls from around the world to a police station in Japan.

After initially losing the transport truck in the busy Sunday evening traffic of Osaka, Nicole and Andy were able to find the truck again and continue to stay on its tail. As they drove through the night, the weather worsened and they found themselves in the midst of a blizzard somewhere in the Kagawa Prefecture. Due to poor visibility, the transport truck clipped a guardrail and became stuck in the snow on the side of the road. By that time, the dolphins in the back had now been in their coffin boxes for almost a full 24 hours. The truck driver, the dolphins, Andy and Nicole all sat on the side of the road for seven hours, fielding phone calls from concerned supporters worldwide to the police stations in Japan, inquiring about the dolphins in the truck as well as fearing for the safety of these two Cove Guardians.

A banger boats drops hunters off at the harbor to work on netsA banger boats drops hunters off at the harbor to work on netsCove Guardian Nao called each one of the three aquariums in the Kagawa Prefecture to ask if they were expecting the delivery of dolphins, but each aquarium denied that they were. At this point, I had not had an update from Nicole for several hours due to the fact that she was unable to charge her phone battery. Before their departure, I ensured that they had brought food, water, warm clothing, their passports, and cash. But despite the rushed preparedness, I could not help but feel worried and uneasy for their safety, as they are more than just Cove Guardians…they are also my friends.

The calls and e-mails to the embassies and to Dolphin Base have once again proven that the media is a powerful ally. The careless and inhumane manner in which these dolphins are treated is downright wrong, and as a so-called superior species, we should not be allowing this to happen.

Spread the word. Raise awareness. Speak out.

Dolphin Base: From the United States, dial 81-0735-59-3514 or send email to

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

A local watches the dolphin hunters perform an offshore captureA local watches the dolphin hunters perform an offshore capture

Nicole, who will be assisting me during my time in Taiji, will share her experiences on her blog.