Cove Guardians - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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

December 6, 2012

Operation Infinite Patience: December 5, 2012

The one hope for these animals is you. Captive facilities exist due to public demand and attendance

Killers attempting to herd Risso’s Dolphins within the coveKillers attempt to herd Risso’s Dolphins within the cove
Photo: Sea Shepherd
On both the 25th and 27th of November, the dolphin hunting boats of Taiji located dolphins out to sea and began their deathly drive formations. Thankfully, on both occasions, they were unable to drive them all the way into Taiji!

On the 25th, the dolphins were lost after a short time, due to choppy seas and plenty of white caps on the surface. The pod on the 27th continually broke free and outsmarted the killers. Eventually, all twelve dolphin hunting boats decided to join together, yet struggled to keep the pod within their sights. Over five hours later, the killers finally gave up the chase. The extremely exhausted dolphins fought with everything they had and managed to disappear completely from the clutches of human greed. Now, these dolphins swim freely, after narrowly escaping the horrors within the killing Cove. We hope they continue swimming far away from Taiji.

As the next day emerged, the 28th of November, a pod of Risso's dolphins were spotted by the dolphin killers just off the coast. The pod split in two. As one part of the pod accelerated south, the killers were incapable of keeping up with them. Those dolphins fled, and they too were able to remain free.

Unfortunately the same could not be said for the other members of the Risso’s dolphin pod. The killers ruthlessly chased the dolphins closer and closer toward the shoreline of Taiji; the pod was reluctant to comply. They constantly broke away from the killers, diving under and through the wall of deafening sounds that the killers were creating beneath the waters. Skiffs and banger boats draped nets around the pod in an attempt to herd them into the Cove and failed several times as the dolphins fought with everything they had to escape the daunting threat they were faced with.

After four hours of barbaric pursuit, the killers drove the pod of seven individuals into the killing Cove and brutally slaughtered them all. None were taken for captivity, as they were not considered suitable enough for the entertainment of mankind. They were not young enough or free of scarring and markings.

Risso’s Dolphins in killing CoveRisso’s Dolphins in killing Cove
Photo: Sea Shepherd

It was on December 2nd that the most horrific display of greed played out before our eyes. All of us Cove Guardians, who were present during the three days that followed, will never be the same. It was shortly after 9 am that we noticed five dolphin hunting boats on the horizon. They had begun to drive a pod of sixteen Bottlenose dolphins towards the Cove. Not long afterward, we discovered that the other seven boats further out to sea were driving yet another pod- of twelve Pilot whales. The bottlenose pod was driven straight into the killing Cove, netted off, and immediately abandoned as the five hunting boats scurried back out to the horizon to help the remaining boats drive the whales. Once the whole fleet of boats was in formation, the eager, greed-ridden drive was in full force. The killers drove the terrified whales for over four hours before they were herded into the Cove and past the already captured Bottlenose pod. Then, they began to throw themselves onto rocks for over fifteen minutes in a last ditch effort to free themselves. They were blinded by their instinctive desire to escape from the alien species that were trying so desperately to murder them. The killers then finished their ‘work’ for the day, leaving both pods in a complete state of anguish. They were held overnight- we waited with them- dreading the following day.

As dawn broke on December 3rd, we were waiting at the Cove looking over the Bottlenose and Pilot whale pods, our hearts numb and heavy. Not long after the sun began to rise, the dolphin killers started to drive the Pilot whales into the killing Cove and under the tarps for slaughter. Almost all of the whales entangled themselves in nets in a state of absolute despair. Several were tied to skiffs by their tail flukes and dragged onto the beach. Four calves and juveniles were released as the rest of their family awaited their slaughter. The juveniles were not large enough for the dolphin killers to add to their quota, as their meat would sell for less than half as much money than that of a larger individual whale. Meanwhile, in the outer Cove, the terrified Bottlenose pod had themselves witnessed first hand the same fierce carnage that they too would have to battle the very next day, as they were kept for a second night.

Pilot Whale entangled in net within killing covePilot Whale entangled in net within killing cove
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Once again, just after sunrise, we were already at the Cove as several of the dolphin killers returned yet again and quickly began driving the exhausted and starved dolphins into the Cove. The killers then showed the ultimate display of greed as seven hunting boats left for the horizon to hunt for more dolphins- as if the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Bottlenose dolphins in the killing Cove weren’t enough.  This was a disgusting display of uncompassionate greed.

Bottlenose Dolphins left within the cove for a second nightBottlenose Dolphins left in the cove for a second night
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Nine of the youngest, unblemished and 'prettier' dolphins were taken for a life of enslavement. Sentenced to entertain the very species that then killed their family members who were left behind. The killers who had left to hunt more dolphins earlier that morning returned to Taiji Harbor empty handed, just in time to assist in butchering the Bottlenose dolphin bodies.

Transfer of Bottlenose Dolphin bodiesTransfer of Bottlenose Dolphin bodies
Photo: Sea Shepherd

The dolphin drive relies heavily upon the profits made from the sale of marine mammals who are directly sourced from within the killing Cove during a slaughter, and sent out to the international captive marine mammal trade. They are directly bound together, no matter what any dolphinarium or supporting company claims.

The one hope for these whales and dolphins is you. These captive facilities exist due to public demand and attendance. Therefore, we as individuals can all make the personal choice to never financially support this horrendous exploitation of marine wildlife, and to educate others on why we have made this decision.

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

Our livestream can be viewed at you can also watch archived livestream footage from the campaign here in Taiji.

Visit the Sea Shepherd Facebook page and official Cove Guardian Facebook page

Nicole McLachlan
Cove Guardian

Cove Guardians Andy, Bianca, Michelle, Mary, Tricia, Nicole and EthanCove Guardians Andy, Bianca, Michelle,
Mary, Tricia, Nicole and Ethan
Photo: Sea Shepherd