Cove Guardians - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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

March 1, 2012

Operation Infinite Patience: March 1, 2012

Cove Guardians with Erwin Vermeulen on his last day in Taiji.Cove Guardians with Erwin Vermeulen on his last day in Taiji.There is no such thing as “humane slaughter”

It was another bloody week here in Taiji. There was so much blood in the cove that the tarps could not even hide the massacre. 98 Pan Tropical Spotted Dolphins were brutally slaughtered, including many babies and juveniles. The entire pod was butchered for consumption.

There is no truth to the Taiji Fisherman’s Union claim of “humane and quick slaughter”.  These dolphins die a horrible, painful death. They fight and struggle to stay alive in the bloody water as divers try to wrangle them back to shore.

The process is known as “pithing.” A metal rod is hammered into the spinal cords to paralyze them. Once the metal rod is removed, a wooden plug is inserted to hide evidence of a wound or bleeding. The dolphins are not dead and are still fully conscious and aware of what is happening to them and the rest of their family. Many dolphins are still able to swim and try to get away. We were able to see one dolphin’s determination to gasp for breath as it continually kept spinning in the water. Dolphin killers circled around the dolphin, laughing as the dolphin eventually sank beneath the surface.

February 27, 2012 - Dolphin killers watch while one dolphin struggles
to stay alive as the entire pod is being slaughtered in the cove.

Dead dolphin bodies are thrown onto skiffs and covered with tarps. These tarps are meant to hide the carnage. The skiff carries the bodies to the Taiji butcher house. This time, as the skiff was entering the harbor, Cove Guardians were filming. Our video footage was able to capture a dolphin still moving under the tarp. The dolphin was still alive after having a metal rod inserted into his/her spinal cord. After lying on a pile of dead family members this dolphin still had a will to live. The dolphin killer tried to pat down the tarp to discreetly hide the movement-as if he was moving the tarp. We know the truth.

February 27, 2012 - A tarp could not conceal a dolphin that was still
alive on the way to the butcher house.

A short time after the slaughter, local buyers swarmed the butcher house. It is rumored that the dolphin-hunting season will end soon and locals opted to stock up on fresh dolphin meat. Trucks upon trucks flowed into the parking lot to purchase the 98 carcasses. The buyers wear facial masks and try to cover their license plates so that we cannot identify them. Unfortunately for them, we do know who they are and we always have our cameras ready.

The blood trail ended at a local fish market. I stood outside the open door. Quietly I watched a woman chop up dolphin fins. She was eager and took her time cutting precise pieces on a wooden table. Five minutes of video was all I needed. Soon the police arrived. It is not illegal to film; I wasn’t breaking the law. So I continued to film as the woman tried to close the door but couldn’t. She was angry. Well, I am angry too. I am angry that Taiji kills dolphins. The grotesque smell of boiling dolphin flesh continues to linger in this dark and haunting little town.

February 27, 2012 - Dolphin fins are chopped into pieces by a local
Taiji butcher.

I refuse to turn my back and look the other way. The dolphins need me-and each and every person who is able-to be their voice. Please consider volunteering for Sea Shepherd and becoming a Cove Guardian here in Taiji.

For the Dolphins,

Melissa Sehgal
Cove Guardian Leader