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November 26, 2012

Operation Infinite Patience: November 24, 2012

A week of bloodshed and cruelty in Taiji

Dolphin killers driving a pod of pilot whales toward the killing coveDolphin killers driving a pod of pilot whales
toward the killing cove
Photo: Sea Shepherd
This past week in Taiji proved to be highly difficult to endure. The week has been a challenge of wills and a challenge of faith in humankind. November has become increasingly bloody here in Taiji. In this past week alone, we have been subjected to documenting the slaughter and complete annihilation of four separate pods of dolphins and small whales. The majority of these individuals were slaughtered for the human consumption of toxic, mercury-laden meat. The smallest and least profitable dolphins of these four pods were dumped at sea to face the unlikelihood of survival without the support of their family pod. Moreover, another select few dolphins were sold within the lucrative captive marine mammal industry. They will spend their lives scarred by the memory of the slaughter of their family, at the hands of the species they will now forever ‘entertain’.

On November 16th, a family of ten Risso’s dolphins struggled and fought for over five hours against the dolphin killers efforts to drive the pod into the killing Cove. The battle seemed like it would never end. After nearly six hours, two dolphins were taken captive by Taiji Dolphin Resort trainers and dumped into the sea pens in Taiji Harbour.  Two dolphins (one, a young calf) were thrown onto a skiff, hidden underneath large tarpaulins, dragged back out to sea, and dumped there. The remaining six dolphins were slaughtered for meat, their bodies then dragged to the butcher house on the sides of skiffs and ‘banger boats’. Meanwhile we witnessed the futile attempts of the dolphin killers to cover up the dead dolphins under tarpaulins, and their ‘proud’ tradition.

November 19th saw the destruction of the lives of 13-15 Risso’s dolphins and one of the more heartbreaking events that I have seen take place within the killing Cove, not that every slaughter isn’t completely gut-wrenching. The pod of Risso’s dolphins was all brutally slaughtered except for one dolphin, who had drowned in the nets beforehand. It was not until the dolphin killers had begun pulling up the nets encasing the killing Cove that they discovered the lifeless body. They then dragged it into the killing Cove. Within a few hours, the pod was nothing but flesh and intestines strewn over the dirty floors of the dolphin meat buyer’s buildings for us and the world to see during our livestream.

Footage of dolphin meat caught on camera during the livestream (http://taiji.ezearth.tv).Footage of dolphin meat caught on camera during the livestream http://taiji.ezearth.tv
Photo: Sea Shepherd

On November 21st, the dolphin killers drove and killed nine Pilot whales within the killing Cove. The last four banger boats had to travel back out to sea in order to pursue and secure the last and largest whale of the pod. It had managed to outsmart the killers, escaping from within the killing Cove twice after witnessing the slaughter of over half the family pod. The hunters finally managed to drive the large whale under the tarpaulins. They then slaughtered the whale in front of two juvenile Pilot whales, waiting to be dumped back into the ocean, where they are unlikely to survive. They discarded these two juveniles due to the fact that they considered their size insufficient to make a profit from the sale of their meat. The two whales, once again, will unlikely survive without the remainder of their pod.

Pilot whales, before the slaughterPilot whales, before the slaughter
Photo: Sea Shepherd

On the morning of the 22nd, the dolphin killers departed once again and within the first 30 minutes of their hunt, they had cornered a pod of Risso's dolphins close to the headlands of Taiji. One dolphin had a noticeably serrated dorsal fin, more than likely caused by a motorized vessel. As the killers drove the already frantic dolphins into the killing Cove, their terror became almost tangible with almost all of the dolphins becoming trapped and tangled in nets before the slaughter. The killers unraveled the dolphins and then wrestled them into the killing Cove to await their fate. Two dolphins escaped into the outer, netted portion of the killing Cove but were later driven in underneath the tarps to join the rest of the pod during the slaughter. The entire family was killed as a result of the absence of young or flawless dolphins considered ‘fit’ for captivity by the Fisheries Union and local captive dolphin facilities. These groups look to buy and sell dolphins for tens of thousands of dollars to dolphinariums around the world-the real money making industry behind the slaughter.

A Risso’s Dolphin fights for it’s life as it becomes trapped in nets during the slaughterA Risso’s Dolphin fights for it’s life as it becomes trapped in nets during the slaughter
Photo: Sea Shepherd

All of us here on the ground possess a strong sense of faith in the fact that we can and will be able to turn the tables on the dolphin slaughter here in Taiji; to enact a change within the town, and collectively with the help of people around the world, within the captive marine mammal trade. This change must come before it is forced upon each and every one of us by the imminent crisis that is affecting our marine environment today which will have devastating and lasting effects if something is not done.

Some people ask, “Why should I care about the plight of these thousands of marine mammals set to be slaughtered, whilst millions of marine animals are killed around the world from factors such as pollution, bycatch, changing climate, as well as a host of additional factors”? While these issues are imperative to solving the mass population declines amongst marine species, we as a species ourselves, need to make the collective and conscious efforts to cease the direct, first-hand slaughters of marine wildlife occurring worldwide. For there will then be greater hope in tackling the larger tasks and ending the indirect, dire threats facing the marine environment. This slaughter needs to end and it needs to end now.

A pilot whale being dragged by the tail into the killing coveA pilot whale being dragged by the tail into the killing cove
Photo: Sea Shepherd

You can help us on the ground here in Taiji. To find out how to become a Cove Guardian, email your interests to coveguardian@seashepherd.org or simply support the movement to spread the word by viewing and sharing our posts via social networking sites and livestream.

View our livestream at http://taiji.ezearth.tv/ and watch archived livestream footage from the campaign here in Taiji.

Stay updated here, at the offical Sea Shepherd and Cove Guardian Facebook pages as well as following us on Twitter.

Nicole McLachlan
Cove Guardian

Cove Guardians: Melissa, Beverley, Bianca, Nicole and EthanCove Guardians: Melissa, Beverley, Bianca, Nicole and Ethan
Photo: Sea Shepherd

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