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December 20, 2012

Operation Infinite Patience: December 20, 2012

Dolphin dragged through its’ families’ bloodDolphin dragged through its’ families’ blood
Photo: Sea Shepherd
A pod of 200 Bottlenose dolphins were driven into the Cove and 101 juveniles were taken for captivity. If marine parks ever showed images of these dolphins being wrestled into submission and taken from their families, the stands would fall silent and these facilities would close down- and they know it. 

The past ten days in Taiji have been absolute torture, to say the very least, for hundreds of dolphins whose only mistake was to have migrated close to Taiji, in southeast Japan. There are not many ways to describe the destruction of large pods of marine mammals, and the ongoing torment that those individuals that have either survived these drives, or were taken into captivity, will forever endure. In recent days, we have seen mankind at it’s very worst, and the dolphin hunt in Taiji at it’s most greed-driven. What is most excruciating about the devastation witnessed here is the profits that a few individuals will now reap. This extends out to the international level, as this is an issue of worldwide demand for dolphins in captivity, with Taiji being the focual point of the global captive dolphin trade.

On the 7th of December, a pod of 15 Risso's dolphins were hunted and slaughtered. They frantically fought against the dolphin killers deafening boats and terrifying walls of nets- all were killed for human consumption, as none were 'suitable' enough to spend their lives forever entertaining humans in the captive trade.

Merely 2 days later, on December 9th, 14-15 Risso's dolphins were slaughtered within the killing cove after a drawn out chase. The petrified dolphins darted around the hunting boats for hours before eventually being netted off by killers. Juveniles within the pod were slaughtered alongside the rest of their family. On the afternoon of December 10th, a non-slaughter day, one Bottlenose dolphin was taken from the Taiji Harbor sea pens to the Fisheries Union, lifted by crane into a truck and transported to a dolphinarium within Japan.

The dolphin’s would-be trainers then followed the truck escorted by over a dozen police and official vehicles that showed up after we arrived at the Fisheries Union. This included vans, undercover officials, both city and prefecture police, coast guard, riot police, and others on police motorbikes. They imposed an official roadblock outside the Fisheries Union as the truck departed, and no less than three police and riot vehicles escorted the truck with the dolphin inside out of Taiji!

It is insane to consider the lengths that the Japanese Government and Fisheries will go to, in order to cover up not only the slaughter of dolphins, but also the captive dolphin trade. It is also, however, a good indication that we are being effective in our efforts to document what goes on here in Taiji, and shows just how terrified both the Fisheries Union and associated marine parks are that their dirty little secret will be continually exposed.

On the 11th of December, a pod of well over 200 Striped dolphins were driven toward Taiji. After the chase began, the dolphin killers lost a majority of the pod, though they did manage to drive between 55-65 dolphins into the Cove.

Tired and terrified, the dolphins frantically threw themselves up onto surrounding rocks as their family members looked on. Dolphins thrashed their tail flukes desperately while being dragged by ropes into the Cove as the killers could not control the absolute havoc.

The dolphins were slaughtered on the beach of the killing Cove, as one very young Striped dolphin was taken captive to the Taiji Whale Museum by trainers that had witnessed the carnage of its family. It will now spend the rest of its life entertaining humankind- the species responsible for the massacre of its pod.

The very next day, on the 12th of December, in one of the most horrific and prolonged ordeals that we have ever documented in Taiji, over 200 Bottlenose Dolphins were driven into and netted off within the Cove.

200+ Bottlenose Dolphins in Cove200+ Bottlenose Dolphins in Cove
Photo: Sea Shepherd

The greed of the dolphin killers was clearly evident during this drive, as they had initially lost two parts of the large pod during the chase. However, instead of being satisfied with the 150+ dolphins they first managed to drive into the Cove, the hunting boats ventured back out to sea to ensure that every last dolphin of the 200+ pod was sealed off. They wanted to make sure that every single juvenile possible was within the Cove for captive selection. Little did any of us know that it would be 6 horrifying days until the last net would be unhooked from the mouth of the Cove once more.

On the first day of the captive selection for the Bottlenose dolphin pod, 32 dolphins were violently captured and sentenced to a lifetime of imprisonment. Countless dolphin trainers could be seen standing on the beach within the killing Cove, shaking hands with dolphin killers as they made their selections. If they ever displayed images of these dolphins being wrestled into submission and taken from their families at those marine parks that they eventually end up in, the stands would fall silent and these facilities would close down- and they know it.

During the capture, as the killers were too preoccupied with their greed-driven activities in the killing Cove to notice, a dolphin calf had become entangled and almost drowned in nets in the outer cove, it then went on to die in front of its mother a few minutes later, as she tried with all her might to save her baby by pushing the baby’s lifeless body to the surface over and over.

Yet another horrific and sickening display of greed ensued on the 14th of December. For yet another seven hours, the Bottlenose dolphins within the Cove were subjected to horrible acts of cruelty as dolphin trainers again worked hand in hand with dolphin killers to select juveniles from the pod for a life in captivity.

Calf struggling to break free from captureCalf struggling to break free from capture
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Thirty dolphins were taken, and divers found two dead bodies within the Cove. These were small dolphins that did not survive the capture process- including the calf that drowned the day previous. Those bodies were then taken to the butcher house hidden on the same boat as two live family members that had just been taken out for a life of captivity. The bodies were then butchered and packaged for human consumption.

On the day of the 16th, 31 of the smallest juveniles and calves were captured and dragged past their family as they caught their last ever glimpses of their terrified mothers. The dolphin killers and trainers packed up and left the Bottlenose dolphins for their fifth night, starved and severely dehydrated within the Cove. Those dolphins that had yet to be driven into the killing Cove for captive selection remained separated from the rest of their family.

On the 17th, the plight, torment, and destruction of the pod of over 200 Bottlenose Dolphins had been ongoing for six days. The story had reached many thousands of people from all corners of the globe and the severity of the captive dolphin trade had finally gotten through to many.

Dolphin sustaining injury during capture processDolphin sustaining injury during capture process
Photo: Sea Shepherd

On their final day in the Cove, 23 dolphins were slaughtered to justify the capture. Before the last of the captive dolphins and trainers left the killing Cove- eight in total were taken that day for marine parks. A staggering 101 juvenile dolphins had been captured altogether from the pod, displaying the true motive for the drive as the Fisheries Union stand to make millions from the horrific treatment and sale of these animals.

These dolphins torment will continue for the rest of their lives as they are forced to entertain the very same species that stole them from their home- the ocean.

Newly captured Bottlenose Dolphin calf at Dolphin Base, TaijiNewly captured Bottlenose Dolphin calf at Dolphin Base, Taiji
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Due to a massive downturn in dolphin meat sales throughout the town over recent years, as well as the fact that their meat stocks were already full after the Striped dolphin massacre, they had no choice but to release those dolphins that were both too old and ‘unattractive’ for life in captivity, and escaped slaughter.  Theywere released back out to sea in an absolute frenzy- evidently desperate to get as far away from the horrors from within the Cove as possible.

Bottlenose Dolphins being releasedBottlenose Dolphins being released
Photo: Sea Shepherd

They now swim with 125 dolphins less than when they were driven into the cove six days earlier. The majority of those dolphins taken and killed represented the next generation of their family pod- the future of their bloodline. In the coming years, their pod size will dwindle considerably and will take generations to rebuild. The captive dolphin industry truly has the blood of hundreds of wild dolphins on their hands.

Bloody Cove after bottlenose dolphin slaughterBloody Cove after bottlenose dolphin slaughter
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Millions of dollars (hundreds of millions of Japanese yen) will now line the pockets of those people, marine parks, and organizations involved. In turn, fueling the continuation of dolphin slaughters in the future- unless we all make a collective decision to STOP supporting the exploitation of marine mammals in dolphinariums and marine parks around the world!

Make the right choice.

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

Cove Guardian,
Nicole McLachlan

Cove Guardians Nicole, Alice, Bianca, Tricia and MichelleCove Guardians Nicole, Alice, Bianca, Tricia and Michelle
Photo: Sea Shepherd