Cove Guardians - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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

October 24, 2011

Operation Infinite Patience: Week 6

More Senseless Murder in the Cove

Report by Cove Guardians Leader Rosie Kunneke

An armada of fishing boats drives a pod of Risso’s dolphins into the Cove. Photo: Cristina CelyAn armada of fishing boats drives a pod of Risso’s dolphins into the Cove.
Photo: Cristina Cely
Sunday, October 23, was another horrible day in Taiji. The dolphin killers drove in a pod of 10-12 Risso’s dolphins into the Cove and brutally murdered the entire pod including a baby. These killers have no respect for the lives of sentient beings and they hide behind their so-called culture. They walk around the butcher house in amusement while their arms, hands, and pants are covered in blood, and a police force, some in riot gear, protect their disgusting deeds.

After witnessing the death of the Risso’s dolphins, one of the false killer whales was loaded into a wooden crate and onto a waiting truck. We found out that this false killer whale was bought by Izu Mito Sea Paradise in the Shizuoka Prefecture. The staff from this resort had to wait around on the pier while the dolphin killers were killing and butchering the dolphins, before the dolphin killers could assist with the capturing of the resort’s newest false killer whale.

Thankfully, there were no further killings the rest of the week due to very bad weather, although the killers attempted to go out and hunt on two occasions.

On the days the killers stayed in harbor, the Cove Guardians spent much of our time at the Dolphin Base resort documenting what each cruel day of captivity holds for these dolphin prisoners. Feeding time in the morning starts with the dolphin trainers putting their hands down the dolphins’ throats in order to remove various types of objects from their stomachs including rocks, pieces of wood, and apparently pieces of rope. The dolphins eat these foreign objects out of boredom and many captive dolphins have died as a result of such behavior.

October 22, 2011
Trainer pulls splinter from dolphin's throat

A Japanese dolphin trainer in Taiji, Japan, pulls a large wooden splinter
from a dolphin's throat. (0:40)

Only after the dolphins have allowed this molestation, some up to six times a day, they are given a very small amount of fish. I suspect the reason they are given so little food is to keep them in a hungry state in order to ensure they will perform all those silly tricks to eat more. The rest of the day, they perform shows as required by the trainers. Afternoon feedings involve a lot of training teaching them the tricks that they must perform and allowing guests to swim on their backs. Aside from these times of interaction, the dolphins are left alone to swim circles in their tiny, overcrowded pens shared with up to five other dolphins. They show signs of depression and boredom. No toys or other forms of stimulation exist in the pens.

You can clearly identify dolphins in each pen are in different stages of training. The pen that holds the sick dolphin, looks like it also contains the more wild, less trained dolphins. They do not take food directly from the trainers, fish are thrown to them, they show very little activity, and display signs of more serious depression. On one particular morning, we witnessed the trainers feeding these four dolphins only a few pieces of fish, and nothing at all on a subsequent day. The only reason I can fathom this would happen is to break the dolphins down to a point of extreme hunger forcing them to eventually start taking fish out of the trainers’ hands.

Keeping these highly intelligent sentient beings in captivity is immensely cruel and inhumane. Every person who buys a ticket to see a dolphin do senseless tricks for human entertainment should be guilty of animal cruelty.

Cove Guardian Maria Cristina Cely from Ecuador joined me this week and is already proving to be a valuable volunteer on this campaign.

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 

A trainer reaches into a dolphin’s throat to extract foreign objects.A trainer reaches into a dolphin’s throat to extract foreign objects. A ball of rope that was removed from a dolphin’s stomach.A ball of rope that was removed from a dolphin’s stomach.
Dolphins are driven under tarps to be murdered. Photo: Cristina CelyDolphins are driven under tarps to be murdered. Photo: Cristina Cely Cove Guardian Cristina Cely at work.Cove Guardian Cristina Cely at work.