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February 16, 2012

Operation Infinite Patience: February 15, 2012

Bloody dolphinThe Keystone Cops (Wakayama Prefecture Police) never cease to amaze me.  This is the second year we have been using our walkie-talkies in Taiji.  Same radio this year as last.  In addition, Erwin had one when the Wakayama Prefecture Police arrested him on December 16, 2011.  They had the radio in their possession for several weeks and it was even presented in criminal court.  No one seemed to think anything about it.

Then, on February 8, the Keystone Cops reacted!  We knew something was up for their finest investigators were hiding in the shrubbery that morning and filmed us through parted leaves.  Very clever they were for they caught us red-handed using the walkie-talkies.  Who would have guessed that on February 8 we would be using radios that we have used here every day?

They even paraded out the Chief of the Wakayama Prefecture Police for this event.  Perhaps he needed to come and supervise such a delicate operation.  Not a bad idea considering the level of competence they exhibit.  Well, it seems that our radios are not compliant for use in Japan and we have been operating an “unlawful radio station.”  Had we known, we would have called it Pirate Radio or Radio Free Taiji.

Why all the police and intrigue?  A simple notice that the radios were unlawful would have sufficed.  We ceased their use immediately and by the end of day had acquired compliant radios.  This caused us a minor inconvenience, but provided immense comic relief.

We have been told that the killers are considering shutting down (for the season) at the end of February instead of continuing through March.  Of course, we will believe it when we see it.  They did the same thing last season, but were killing Pilot Whales in early May.  It seems they make up the rules as they go along.If the citizens of Taiji have had enough of our presence, they can end the slaughter (for good) and we will leave.

We have also been told that they killers have reached their quota for Risso and Striped dolphins (275 & 450).  Our observations tell a different story though.  We have observed and reported a range between 221 and 242 Risso dolphins killed and another 29 enslaved this season.  If we take the high range, this makes 271 Risso dolphins taken from the sea and is pretty close to their quota of 275.  We have observed and reported a range between 334 and 356 Striped dolphins killed and another one enslaved.  Even taking our high range, this is almost 100 shy of their quota of 450.  We have no idea why they over report their numbers, but if they are interested in accurately reporting their numbers, why do they go through such trouble to hide their actions?  In total, their quota allows for 2,165 dolphins and other small cetaceans to be taken this season.  We have seen 615 to 663 killed and another 53 enslaved.  These numbers are down from last season’s kill and certainly down from what they have reported in the past.  This is shaping up to be another very successful campaign.

Marked cars

The killers have suggested that warmer than usual water off the coast has reduced the numbers of dolphins.  Perhaps there is something to that or perhaps 40 some years of wanton slaughter has taken its toll on the coastal dolphins near this part of Japan.  Taiji would not be the first Japanese town to have destroyed all of the local dolphins.  Perhaps the numbers are down because of our presence and the extra work that causes the killers.  Maybe it is a combination of factors.

Of course each death and enslavement is a horrific event.  On February 12, they harassed a pod of Striped dolphins.  31 were killed and 3 were taken by skiff from the cove and dumped at sea.  There were 2 juveniles and 1 adult dumped.  Who knows if the adult was their mother?   At first, we thought this was an attempt on the part of the killers to show sympathy for babies.  The way they went about it though has doomed them.   The police tell us they dumped the dolphins because the killers had reached their quota.

Erwin remains in jail.  The judge will render the verdict on February 22.  There has been tremendous worldwide response to the injustice and the numbers of Cove Guardians in Taiji is at an all time high because of it.  We will be here at least through the end of March and are making plans for a year round presence.  We certainly will be back by September 1.  Want to join us here?  Write to me at  I will be leaving Taiji soon and Melissa Sehgal will be taking the lead on the ground.

Scott West
Cove Guardian Campaign Coordinator

February 12, 2012 - Striped dolphins at the cove in
Taiji, Japan

Striped dolphins are caught and harassed in the cove

Pirate Radio Pirate Radio

Cove Guardians (L to R):  Kyle, Janice, Eric, Chasity, Ashley, Guilherme, Jon, Emilie, Scott, Matt, Biaggo, Rex, Jeff, Stacey, MelissaCove Guardians (L to R): Kyle, Janice, Eric, Chasity, Ashley, Guilherme,
Jon, Emilie, Scott, Matt, Biaggo, Rex, Jeff, Stacey, Melissa