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September 28, 2012

Operation Infinite Patience: September 28, 2012

The dolphin killing community of Taiji has today brought a new level of shame upon the nation of Japan.

Cove Guardians Michael, Marieke, Konrad, Melissa, Guilherme, AshleyCove Guardians Michael, Marieke, Konrad,
Melissa, Guilherme, Ashley
Photo: Sea Shepherd
Despite super typhoon Jalawat throwing surging waves toward the Wakayama coastline, all 12 banger boats ventured out to their hunting grounds at sunrise and were successful in tracking down a pod of 20-25 pilot whales.

Clearly traumatized and exhausted after hours of harassment, the pod was driven into Taiji's infamous killing cove. Usually calm and sheltered, today The Cove resembled a churning cauldron of volatile energy. The sound of waves exploding against the rocks combined with the roaring skiff outboard slicing erratically around the pod caused one of the pilot whales to panic and make a desperate break away from the killers towards the shallows. We watched in horror as she was slammed violently against the rocks in an attempt to break through nets set up to block swimmers from witnessing the barbaric slaughter of cetaceans that regularly takes places just meters away.

In the 12 minute ordeal that ensued, we filmed this process repeat again and again. In the background other pod members were heard crying out as if feeling her pain and attempting to guide her back to them.

Caught up in the turmoil and feeling the need to alleviate the suffering she was going through, we felt compelled to dive into the water and swim out to her but our rational side took hold and stopped us. We were caught between a rock and a hard place. If we gave into our emotions and dove into the water, not only would we have been arrested for interfering with the drive, the only two options would have been to help guide the pilot whale away from the nets and towards shore or away from the shore and towards the killers. Both were likely to result in the pilot whale's prolonged suffering or death. We felt helpless just standing there but pushed the notion to the back of our minds and kept filming. Our greatest hope now is in that the world will see the agony and injustice we captured and together we can work to ensure that these inhumane drive hunts become a thing of the past.

Three dolphin killers who had been standing on shore hastily waded out into the water and attempted to force the pilot whale back towards their partners in crime aboard one of the waiting skiffs. After struggling to push her under the barrier nets they eventually succeeded and swam back to shore. Passing us on the beach we caught their distinct smirks and heard the trio laughing about the situation behind us. They laugh because they don't realize that every victory for them, although indescribably painful to witness, is also a bittersweet victory for us. The documentation of these shocking events is powering a growing tide of backlash that is costing the local community thousands of dollars and will eventually bring these barbaric industries of death and torture to their knees.

The daily operations of the dolphin killers and those involved in the captive cetacean industry are a disgrace to Japan and the international community. What we saw today at The Cove was a depiction of these industries at their lowest but what makes this situation even worse are the events that preceded it.

Two weeks earlier, a similar sized pod of pilot whales was robbed of their freedom and driven into The Cove. One of the pod members was a mother who was cruelly stolen away from her family by dolphin trainers and taken into captivity. Here her health quickly deteriorated. Sadly, she succumbed to her trauma four days ago.

On the 19th of September, after the Cove Guardians were guaranteed that the pod of pilot whales being held at The Cove had been released and no more killing would take place that day, three banger boat slipped quietly out of the harbor. Not long after, a skiff was filmed returning with the body of a dead dolphin. When the authorities were questioned about the incident, they pretended not to know anything about it.

A week later on the 26th of September the washed-up body of a 2.5m pilot whale was discovered by Cove Guardians on Taiji's rocky coastline. The state of decomposition suggests that the time of death would have matched that of the release of pilot whales from The Cove. There's something fishy going on in Taiji and the evidence is suggesting that more dolphins are dying or being slaughtered after their release than the killers and police would like us to know about.

A dead pilot whale washed ashore. This whale did not survive after being driven back out to sea.A dead pilot whale washed ashore.
This whale did not survive after being driven back out to sea.
Photo: Sea Shepherd

As the Fisherman's Union has made an agreement not to slaughter any whales or dolphins on Saturdays, the pilot whales currently being held captive in the killing cove will remain there for two days. Their fate lay in the balance. We have 48 hours to ensure their release and show Taiji that the world will not tolerate the destruction of our vital marine eco-systems or such barbaric acts of cruelty against cetaceans.

To find out what you can do to help end the slaughter, please visit:

What You Can Do To Help

For the Oceans

Michael Beasley
Cove Guardian

The current was far too strong for this pod of pilot whales as this whale suffered injuries after crashing against rocks.The current was far too strong for this pod of pilot whales
as this whale suffered injuries after crashing against rocks.
Photo: Sea Shepherd