Cove Guardians - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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

December 13, 2011

Operation Infinite Patience: December 05-11, 2011

Report by Nicole McLachlan

Cove Guardians From L-R: Thomas, Nicole, Bianca, Nikki, Erwin and ScottCove Guardians From L-R: Thomas, Nicole, Bianca, Nikki, Erwin and ScottUpon my return to Taiji, only a few weeks ago, Rosie Kunneke briefed me on the many changes in the campaign. Rosie, unfortunately, had to leave Taiji after spending three months here as the campaign leader. Her presence has been missed. Cove Guardians past and present agree that she is a vital asset to this campaign. The insight we have gained through the scrupulous persistence and pressure she places upon those involved in Taiji's dolphin slaughter, trade, and captivity industry has proven invaluable and highly effective.

In fact, it has become increasingly apparent that Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s constant vigilance is having a significant impact on the kill numbers of these murderers here in Taiji. The dolphin killers, trainers, buyers, transporters, and all those individuals in between must now factor in the time it takes to hide their bloody “work” from not only the eyes of us Cove Guardians on the ground, but also the world. Their constant need to be 'one step ahead' when it comes to the concealment of their actions has proven to work against them- effectively and significantly cutting down their kill numbers.

We are currently approaching the middle of the dolphin-hunting season here in Taiji, Japan. At this time last year the number of dolphins killed in the cove was 437. This year we are looking at a number closer to 200. With a quota reaching over 2,000, it is apparent that we are having a huge impact on the success of these dolphin killers. While we hoped this to be true, we have now had confirmation by an individual working closely within the industry. This individual informed us that due to Sea Shepherd's constant presence, the dolphin hunters have been unable to kill as many dolphins and thus the price of dolphin meat throughout the town has been forced to increase. To add to this, we are slowly seeing more Japanese support both here in Taiji and across the nation!

This week in Taiji, we have been closely monitoring a sick Pilot whale at Dolphin Base. Yesterday, we were pleased to see that the Pilot Whale’s appetite had increased slightly. The Pilot whale has also been a little more active in its pen.

Taking cetaceans from the wild and enslaving them to a life of captivity is horrible in itself. In addition to this you must consider that every single dolphin or small whale being held captive in Taiji has literally seen the death of all of its family. This horrifying thought adds a whole new element to the term cruelty. Dolphins deserve to be in the one place they naturally belong- the open ocean. Therefore places in Taiji such as Dolphin Base, Dolphin Resort Hotel, and the Taiji Whale Museum are contributing to the unnatural exploitation that is the captive dolphin trade. These captors buy direct from the dolphin killers. In essence, they are no different from the killer’s themselves- for these 'businesses' are knowingly dumping huge amounts of money into the hunt every single year.

Examples of these connections have occurred here in Taiji this week. On Thursday, Cove Guardians witnessed the horrible distress that dolphins must endure during transport to these dolphinariums.  Dolphin Resort Hotel was responsible for the purchase of two Risso's dolphins, the only remaining members of a beautiful pod driven into the killing cove on December 4th. We documented the transfer and saw the trauma that the dolphins were exposed to with boat engines, ropes, slings, cranes, and the shouts of dozens of trainers filling the air. This is no way to treat any sentient being.

Time and time again it is said that these trainers love the animals they work so closely with. However, we continually see these same trainers enter the bloodbath within Taiji's killing cove to select 'attractive' dolphins from within, leaving their families in the hands of brutal killers. Today was no exception and was the first drive in six days. We watched as the dolphin hunters persisted in driving 16 Risso’s dolphins into the killing cove and dragging their resistant bodies underneath the carefully erected tarpaulins that cover the horrors within. Sure enough, dolphin trainers rode alongside the killers in skiffs and into the killing cove, eventually selecting three young Risso's for a life in captivity and turning their backs on the remaining thirteen lives. These unfortunate beings were soon sentenced to a bloody death; they were chopped to pieces and put on supermarket shelves.  In no way can this be referred to as love.

This week we are thrilled to be joined in Taiji by Scott West, who will remain for the next three months, reporting and keeping the pressure on the dolphin hunting industry.

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 coveguardian@seashepherd.org

Dolphin trainers entering cove before slaughter Photo: Thomas GainardPhoto: Thomas Gainard
Photo: Thomas GainardPhoto: Thomas Gainard Photo: Thomas GainardPhoto: Thomas Gainard