Cove Guardians - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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

February 22, 2012

Operation Infinite Patience, February 22, 2012

Judgement Day

Bottlenose Dolphin taken into captivity and transferred directly into above ground tank at Taiji Dolphin Resort.Bottlenose Dolphin taken into captivity and transferred directly into above ground tank at Taiji Dolphin Resort.I have been here in Taiji for six weeks now. I have witnessed good days and bad days. Today was not a good day. After a week of no murder in Taiji, three Bottlenose Dolphins were driven into the cove today.

As Cove Guardians, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Every morning we are up before sunrise and out the door to monitor the killing boats. It is not until we see that line of boats in drive formation at the horizon that we know they have found a pod. Our hearts sink and yet we are still hopeful that the pod will somehow escape. As the killing boats creep closer and the banging of the poles gets louder it becomes inevitable that this pod holds the next victims of Taiji.

Today, when we realized the killers were only driving three Dolphins into the Cove, the motive behind this long, drawn out process became clear. These were Bottlenose Dolphins and the motive was money! These Dolphins were being kidnapped. The profit from this small pod would make up for the lost week without killing.

As the pod was netted into the cove, trainers from Taiji Dolphin Base, Dolphin Resort, and The Whale Museum departed Taiji harbor via skiff toward the cove. They took their time deciding who would rip these beautiful beings from their natural environment.  After an hour, a skiff, carrying two live dolphins by sling and trainers from Dolphin Resort, entered the harbor. We anxiously waited for the second skiff to transport the third dolphin, hoping they would at least be kept together in captivity. Then a skiff with trainers appeared, but with no dolphin. Ten minutes later, the last skiff emerged with tarps draped over the side. The third dolphin had been murdered. It is my understanding that this dolphin was not a prized possession and was only suitable for consumption. The two live dolphins for captivity were immediately transferred from skiff to transport trucks and then edirectly into above ground tanks. This is the first time we have witnessed a direct transfer without a transition period. What a stressful process for these Dolphins.

A Dolphin Base trainer injects medication into dead fish and feeds to captive Dolphins.A Dolphin Base trainer injects medication into dead fish and feeds to captive Dolphins.Which brings me to the point of “judgement”. Who has the right to decide which sentient being dies or is imprisoned for life? This pod was swimming free this morning and now has been denied all that is familiar to them. Their new home is a concrete bathtub and they will have to learn to survive on dead fish only after performing stupid tricks, while some Taiji local feasts on their family member for dinner.

After the capture of this pod, I watched as a killing boat crossed paths with a skiff of Dolphin trainers in the harbor and the two groups happily waved to one another. Both had blood on their hands; working together as a team of murderers.

After witnessing the atrocities of Taiji, I still have a difficult time understanding why anyone would support captivity and enjoy watching marine mammals perform for human entertainment. The living conditions are comparable to a concentration camp and slave labor. It is denial of all that is natural to them. Every day I monitor the captive dolphins at Taiji Dolphin Base. I document their behavior, feeding times, and trainer activity for each dolphin. I have seen medication injected into the fish they are fed, antiseptic applied to their wounds, and I see them beg for food continuously. This is not natural. Last week we watched one of the dolphins catch a large fish. The trainers quickly tore it from the Dolphin’s mouth and replaced it with their daily diet of dead fish.

February 2012 - Captive dolphin and its trainers

A captive Dolphin catches a live fish which is quickly traded for dead fish.
After slaughter, a skiff of trainers greets one of the killing boats.

Please do not support animal captivity.

We now have eleven Cove Guardians on the front lines. They are dedicated and passionate people who have traveled from all over the world at their own expense to be here in Taiji. They are a strong voice for the Dolphins and I am proud to call them my friends.  Thank you to our supporters; we are able to continue our work here because of you.

For the Dolphins,

Melissa Sehgal
Cove Guardian Leader

Current Cove Guardian volunteers.Current Cove Guardian volunteers.