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November 2, 2012

Operation Infinite Patience: November 2, 2012

The dolphin killers of Taiji remain merciless as they torment and slaughter a large pod of Pilot whales

Pilot Whales frantically throw themselves onto rocks in the killing cove during the slaughter.Pilot Whales frantically throw themselves onto rocks in the killing cove during the slaughter.
Photo: Sea Shepherd
October drew to a bloody close here in Taiji after being largely slaughter-free, with yet another pilot whale slaughter tainting the waters within the killing cove. On the 30th of October, over 100 Pilot Whales were relentlessly pursued and driven into Taiji’s infamous Cove. Within a mere few hours, these creatures were forcibly transitioned from traveling the vast expanse of the ocean, to being confined between nets and sharp, jagged cliff faces. Once netted off within the cove, fresh from the trauma of being hounded by deafening boats into a place that would seem utterly foreign to them, the whales revert to their basic natural instincts- they unify.

Pilot whales huddle together during a slaughter and remain motionless, save for the occasional spy-hop or tail slap. Within this pod, we could see both large, individuals clearly of old age, and also newborn calves, still sporting 'birth rings' along their bodies, and all ages in between. After the drive and once the pilot whales were secured within the nets, the dolphin killers deemed their work day to be over, leaving the whales in their distressed confusion overnight.

After what must have been a night of absolute terror for these sentient beings, we arrived at the Cove early the next morning to find that the pod had hardly moved at all, still vying to be near each other in their tightly bound huddle. Their stress levels were noticeably increasing with every hour that passed and even the breaths of air they were managing seemed to become arduous.

Soon after, the dolphin killers arrived and began the slaughter. The Pilot whales were divided, and a smaller portion of the pod containing the largest individuals was forced into the killing Cove.

Instantly, the panic truly set in, and the dolphin killers could not keep the whales from throwing their bodies up onto the serrated rocks in their desperate bid for freedom. One very small calf became trapped between the nets and the sharp rocks, desperate to get back to its mother. The dolphin killers, standing on skiffs merely feet away from the whale, completely ignored the calf for at least half an hour before it disappeared below the surface, feared to have drowned.

The sights and sounds that greet us Cove Guardians whilst standing watch will remain with us for a lifetime, there is no overlooking the pain and suffering- it’s enough to haunt anyone that lives a life of compassion. Fourteen of the largest (and therefore, the most profitable) Pilot whales were slaughtered that morning, though this was not enough to satisfy the greed of the dolphin killers. Once again, on the first afternoon of November, the killers packed up and headed home without another thought for the 80-90 or so Pilot whales that remained, more petrified than ever, within the cove.

The following morning we arrived at the Cove to be greeted with the all too familiar sight of the tormented Pilot whale pod. For a third day, they were confined, starved, and utterly exhausted. The dolphin killers arrived just after sunrise and began deliberating between themselves as to which Pilot whales they would slaughter and sell for meat. Once again, a smaller portion of the larger whales in the pod were driven into the killing Cove. This time, a handful of dolphin killers remained on skiffs surrounding the outside of the net encircling the slaughter. They were positioned to ensure that this time, the Cove Guardians would not see the Pilot whales breaking free from the nets, stranding on the rocks, and flailing in distress.

Seven whales were taken from within the killing Cove that morning. Much the same as the previous day, their bodies were dragged by their tails in pairs or groups of three alongside skiffs and transferred to the side of banger boats, which took the bodies to the butcher house in Taiji Harbor.

A bin of severed pilot whale heads was left outside the Taiji butcher house after the slaughterA bin of severed pilot whale heads was left outside
the Taiji butcher house after the slaughter.
Photo: Sea Shepherd

The resulting operations involving the meat buyers are critical for us to document and expose, much the same as the captive cetacean operations constantly ongoing throughout the town. These are the industries fueling the slaughter.

And what about the remaining whales in the pod? Hours after the slaughter, the dolphin killers returned and chased these whales out to sea, two of the whales remained relatively motionless and would not comply with the dolphin killers’ chase. The dolphin killers’ answer to this problem was to lasso one of the whales around it’s head, tie the frightened and reluctant animal up in nets over the side of a skiff, and dump it out to sea.

The release of these whales is no noble or compassionate feat- for the Pilot whale is one species of marine mammal, which is critically dependent upon a stable social structure within their genetic family for survival. Pilot whales remain within their natal pods for their entire lives; they are one of few species of mammals that are even more dependent upon their family ties than humankind. The eldest females of a pod of Pilot whales are the most important in keeping the stability within a family, however unfortunately for the remaining 80 or so Pilot Whales, these larger and older individuals just happen to make the most money for the ever-greedy dolphin killers.

This morning we were happy to report that the boats returned empty handed, however the horrors from the last few days were reinstated when we caught a skiff with dolphin killers inside, sneaking into the killing Cove while all twelve banger boats were searching for more money at sea. What the dolphin killers procured from the killing Cove was the body of a small Pilot whale, which they habitually concealed under tarps and delivered to the butcher house. The fact that it was a smaller whale alludes to the possibility that it was unintentionally killed during the previous day’s slaughter- perhaps they did not want us to expose this, resulting in their secretive movements today.

So, the destruction of a family of over 100 whales will go into the books of the dolphin killers as a 22-whale haul. They will continue to drive huge pods of certain species and take the largest dolphins, with a complete disregard for the fact that many more whales and dolphins die as a result of these hunts. The hands of those involved in this lucrative industry become bloodier by the day.

It has never been more important for all of us to use one of the most important tools that, unlike animals, we are all naturally equipped with. That is, our voice. We have the incredible power to stand up, be counted, and be heard amongst humankind. Therefore, we have the power to create change every single day. We all have the power to change the world; in fact we DO change the world with every move we make. The question is- how are YOU going to use your voice?

We will continue to livestream the atrocities here in Taiji:

Nicole McLachlan

Cove Guardian

Cove Guardians Brett, Melissa, Rafael, Scott, Guilherme, Georgie, Liza, Harrison, Bianca, Nicole, AshleyCove Guardians Brett, Melissa, Rafael, Scott, Guilherme,
Georgie, Liza, Harrison, Bianca, Nicole, Ashley.
Photo: Sea Shepherd

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