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September 19, 2011

Operation Infinite Patience Week 1

If only all Weeks were this good…

Report by Cove Guardians Leader Rosie Kunneke

Photo: Rosie KunnekeThe first week of this year’s Operation Infinite Patience campaign in Taiji proved to be very good week for the dolphins. The killers stayed in the harbor on four out of seven days due to bad weather and sea conditions. They went out searching for dolphins to hunt on two days only to come back emptyhanded on both occasions, and on Sunday, they all left the harbor but turned around about a kilometer out and came back in. Based on observing their activities in the harbor, we suspect that their behavior can be attributed to either a late weather warning, as a result of two tropical cyclones off the coast of Japan, or perhaps they were simply doing this for the media hovering around the pier. But either way, they did not go out.

There is a significant difference from last year’s operations. This year, a harpoon boat has accompanied the 12 banger boats. The quota for dolphins killed in Taijii during the 2011-2012 season is set at 2,165 dolphins for the drive, and 509 for harpooning. It is possible that the harpoon boat will set out to try and fill the harpooning quota. Thus far, not a single victim has been seen lying lifeless on the deck of the returning harpoon boat.

For the remainder of the day, the fishermen worked busily around the harbor and cove. It is clear from their activities that many resources are being wasted to hide their shameful killing and enslavement activities including the addition of:

  • More fences to block the pathways on both sides of the Cove, thus keeping the the killing cove out of the public’s view.
  • New structures on the side of the killing cove possibly to prevent panicked dolphins from jumping onto the rocks (making themselves visible to camera lenses and thus the world).
  • Elaborate tarps covering the whole killing cove.
  • New tarps to hide the butchering activities on the gutting barge.

Photo: Rosie KunnekePolice resources have also been significantly increased in Taiji since last year, with 24-hour daily patrols. Some newspapers reported that this round-the-clock police presence is costing the government 40 million yen. There is a new sign at the Cove stating that all the dolphins and whales in the Cove belong to the Fisherman’s Association.

While observing the killers daily, I thought about the arguments they use to try and justify the brutal slaughter and cruel capture of dolphins, such as killing dolphins is ‘part of our culture and tradition.’ The Japanese have such a rich history with some of the world’s most beautiful shrines and temples, but I have yet to see any of the 99 Shrines of Kumano hidden under blue tarps. Then why cover up only this tradition? Another argument is that ‘dolphins are merely fish and we all eat fish.’ This argument is also flawed. If dolphins are merely fish to them, then why have I not seen any ‘swim with bluefin tuna’ or ‘salmon petting’ programs anywhere in town? Clearly dolphins are not merely ‘fish’ to them but highly intelligent beings.

I also spent a lot of time observing the dolphins held captive at the Whale Museum. It is really upsetting to see these beautiful, sentient creatures swimming around aimlessly in tight circles while clearly showing signs of distress. During dolphin shows, dolphins must often spend up to eight minutes on the show deck in scorching heat in order for people to come and pet them. These dolphins are molested for human entertainment and greed. Please do not support any type of institution that keeps dolphins or whales captive for human entertainment. These creatures do not belong in captivity, they belong swimming freely in the sea.

The plight of a captive dolphin

A captive dolphin at the Taiji whale museum floats listlessly day-after-day,
even as other dolphins swim around him.
Video credit: Sea Shepherd (1:27)


Be sure to visit Sea Shepherd’s official Facebook page to stay current on the Cove Guardians and follow @seashepherd on Twitter as we “#Tweet4Taiji” featuring the official breaking news updates as they happen.

Sea Shepherd is still looking for passionate individuals to join Rosie in Taiji to assist her in documenting the slaughter, standing ground to the local fishermen, and pressuring the authorities who allow this barbaric slaughter to take place. We managed to reduce the number of dolphins killed last season by half, and we can do it again this year but we cannot do it without your help as a Cove Guardians volunteer or supporter. To join us in Taiji (voluntarily, and completely at your own cost and risk), write us at

Photo: Rosie Kunneke Photo: Rosie Kunneke

Photo: Rosie KunnekeAll photos: Rosie Kunneke