September 14, 2012
Operation Infinite Patience: September 14, 2012
Taiji Goes To Great Lengths to Avoid Global Exposure of the Dolphin Slaughter.
This first week of the 2012-2013 drive hunt season has brought many changes. Cove Guardians were introduced to a new police task force. Police surveillance has doubled since last season, we are continuously monitored and many locations are considered ‘off limits’
The Mayor of Taiji has ordered Takanabe Hill, which is a tsunami evacuation escape, closed indefinitely for construction. At the top of the steps is a small grassy park that looks down into the cove, well at least down toward the many tarps that cover the killing cove. I find it to be a coincidence that this location, and only this location, is closed at the start of the drive season. It is a shame that the Mayor is truly making the dolphin slaughter a priority over the safety of the local citizens of Taiji. (Report of earthquake and tsunami devastation in 2011 as experienced by Cove Guardian Campaign Leader, Scott West)
There are other tsunami evacuation stairs in Taiji, but none of them have a view of the killing cove and none of them are used by activists documenting the dolphin slaughter. Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians announced the closure on Twitter and shortly afterwards there was a tsunami drill in Taiji. The mayor seems to think that this will stop us from exposing the slaughter. I wonder if he realizes that more and more people are becoming aware of what Taiji does to dolphins; sorry Taiji, it is no secret.
It has been a week of bloodshed and deceit. Taiji continues to claim the dolphin drive as “tradition” and demands that the world should respect their culture. This week wasn’t about culture -it was about profit. On September 7th, a large pod of 28 short-finned pilot whales were driven into the killing cove. They were held overnight only to have three taken for captivity and the remaining pod was again held for a second night to give local buyers time to prepare for one very large whale meat auction. Early Sunday morning all 25 whales were brutally murdered in the cove. Each whale carcass was dragged by skiff, transferred to a killing boat at sea, and then dragged to Taiji butcher house.
The killers attempted to cover their actions with draped large blue tarps over the large breathless whales. It seems these guys have gotten a little sloppy and have forgotten that we are always watching. Fins were flopping, bloodstains were revealed, doors and drapes left open to reveal pilot whale carnage. Buyers swarmed the Fisherman’s Union with greed and angst as Cove Guardians monitored the trucks loading and unloading fresh whale meat. We could see the blood dripping down the sides of the trucks. Pilot whale meat is not only a favorite of locals, but is distributed worldwide.
Of the three pilot whales taken for captivity, one mother pilot whale is ailing. She has been treated and monitored by vets and trainers from Taiji Dolphin Base. She continues to swim on her right side, circling her calf. Both mom and baby are badly sunburned and not eating. We will keep posting updates on her condition.
On September 10th, a pod of Bottlenose dolphins was driven toward Taiji. During the drive, the pod was separated in two. The first pod was netted into the killing cove as the killers continued to chase the remaining family. After about five hours, the killers wrangled the dolphins into a net confinement just outside Taiji harbor. Two dolphins were taken to the cove and at least five were taken by skiff then dumped back into the water, and finally the last of the pod was driven back out to sea. The entire drive process was over eight hours and the pod was also held overnight for more than sixteen hours in the killing cove. This timeframe allowed buyers to travel and purchase these wild caught dolphins.
The next morning, nine dolphins were taken via slings to Taiji harbor pens for a lifetime of captivity. Simultaneously nine killing boats were driving in an additional pod of Bottlenose dolphins toward the cove. Both pods were combined in the killing cove and held overnight once again. Thirteen Bottlenose dolphins were ripped from their family the following morning for a total of twenty-two taken and sold into captivity. The remaining pod was driven back out to sea. A previous agreement between Taiji and WAZA (World Association of Zoos & Aquariums) states there is not to be killing of Bottlenose dolphins during the month of September. Captive dolphins can be labeled and sold as “non-slaughter” dolphins. Each captive dolphin can be worth as much as $250,000. This is not tradition- this is greed.
One dolphin was not so fortunate. After enduring a long drive, a stressful night in the killing cove and separation from the rest of the family this dolphin was found dead and alone, floating just outside Taiji harbor. A skiff and killing boat quickly transferred the dead dolphin back to the butcher house- possible lunch for the dolphin killers.
The season is just starting and we are here to stay. We will continue to document and expose what Taiji “thinks” they are hiding. We will continue to remain a strong presence in Taiji until the slaughter ends.
We currently have five Cove Guardians on the ground and many more volunteers around the world are joining us this season.
I encourage everyone interested in our campaign to get involved. There are many ways to help us save dolphins.
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For the dolphins,
Melissa Sehgal, Cove Guardian Campaign Leader