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October 31, 2011

Operation Infinite Patience: Week 7

The Cove runs Bloody once Again with the Loss of life

Report by Cove Guardians Leader Rosie Kunneke

Baby Risso‚Äôs dolphin swims with its mother before they are butchered. Photo: Cristina CelyBaby Risso’s dolphin swims with its mother before they are butchered.
Photo: Cristina Cely
This week was a brutal, cruel, and saddening week in the horrible little town of Taiji. Three pods, approximately 28-31 dolphins in total, of beautiful Risso’s dolphins were senselessly murdered in the Cove. Two of the pods had babies and juveniles amongst them. After killing the pod members, the dolphin killers took the babies way out to sea likely wanting us to believe that they were releasing them while they were probably murdering them out of sight. Either way, the babies will die without their mothers and pod members because they will succumb to a slow death by starvation or fall victim to predators.

The absolute cruel nature of the killers was once again evident while we watched them drive one of the pods under the tarps to be killed. One of the babies was so absolutely panic stricken with fear that it tried to jump over the line of nets cordoning them off in the killing cove. The baby did not make the jump and got caught in the nets. The dolphin killers did nothing to help free it, they just stood by watching it struggle and even ran over it with the skiff’s engine. The mother was frantically trying to get to her baby to help. The baby Risso’s eventually managed to free itself after a very long and hard struggle when sometimes it looked like it was starting to drown. After this incident, this particular baby’s mother refused to go underneath the tarps with her baby. By now, the other family members were in the process of being murdered as we could still hear the violent slapping of their tails, so this mother was well aware of what was waiting for her and her child. The amazing bond that these animals have with their offspring was evidently clear. Time and time again, she would dive underneath the skiffs avoiding the killing beach. The dolphin killers eventually called the divers over to come and assist. She kept fighting despite having two divers on her back who tried to keep her underwater so that she could not breathe. The divers captured the baby, then the mother, and dragged her by her tail under the dreadful tarps.

October 27, 2011
Risso's dolphins - baby Risso's entangled in net

A pod of Risso's dolphins are encircled by the Taiji fishermen. A baby Risso's tries to escape but is entangled in a net. (1:50)

After murdering all of the dolphins, the killers transported the dead bodies by skiff or the banger boats to the butcher house in the harbor. Then, the dolphins are butchered inside the butcher house next to the Fishermen’s Union (FU) building. We monitor the killers’ activities at the butcher house. First the dolphin’s heads are placed in a metal bin (this is all done behind screens but you can still hear the noise of the falling heads make against the metal container). By this time, the dolphin meat buyers are lined up in their white trucks outside the side door of the butcher house. One at a time, they back up their trucks into the butcher house where the containers with dolphin meat are loaded onto their trucks. The containers are now sealed to prevent us from getting any more footage of the fresh meat. We see the same buyers every time.

Rosie on the fence for a better vantage point with a large police audience. Photo: Cristina CelyRosie on the fence for a better vantage point with a large police audience.
Photo: Cristina Cely
After the Wakayama Prefecture police warned the fishermen that we could see and get photos of the dolphin intestines and offal lying on the floor while they back up the trucks, the dolphin killers erected new tarps on bamboo sticks completely covering the area between the butcher house and the FU building. While monitoring the activities at the butcher house, there are about 10-15 uniformed Wakayama Prefecture police and riot police monitoring our movements. This week, there were only two Cove Guardians, but despite our low numbers, the government spends so much money and resources to follow us everywhere we go. The Wakayama Prefecture policemen are openly favoring the dolphin killers by warning them when we are approaching so that the killers can cover up everything in advance to our arrival. They will also warn the dolphin killers of instances where we manage to get a vantage point where we can obtain pictures.

Extra vegetation is put in place to block the Cove out of view.Extra vegetation is put in place to block the
Cove out of view.
This week Cove Guardian Cristina and I caught one of the fishermen trespassing on the slopes of the hill behind the killing cove. I say “trespassing” because that is what the police and the many signs on the mountain warn us about. During the slaughter of a Risso’s dolphin pod, I had one leg over the low fence and the police warned me that they would arrest me. We took footage of a fisherman busy tying tall bamboo trees to existing trees in order to try and block our view of the killers driving the dolphins underneath the tarps. Because we had video footage of the fisherman being in a place, where according to the signs, we are not supposed to go and we made a complaint about this to the police, the police had no other choice but to give the fisherman a warning. Afterwards, we saw this specific fisherman angrily telling the other dolphin killers what had happened. Every day we are amazed to see how much money, time, effort, and resources are being used in order to cover up this little town’s horrible activities.

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

Dead dolphins are transferred from the skiff to the banger boat.Dead dolphins are transferred from the skiff to the banger boat. The dolphin killers congregate outside the butcher house.The dolphin killers congregate outside the butcher house.
New tarps block the view of the meat-loading process.New tarps block the view of the meat-loading process. Abundant presence of police at the butcher house.Abundant presence of police at the
butcher house.