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January 8, 2013

Operation Infinite Patience: January 8, 2013

Not one single person, knowing the real truth and history behind this bloody trade, would ever in their right mind choose to support such cruelty. 

Dolphin being transferred to Dolphin ResortDolphin being transferred to Dolphin Resort
Photo: Sea Shepherd
While people around the world gathered for the holiday season, to be amongst their friends and families to celebrate and participate in festive traditions and activities, the horrific treatment of marine mammals in Taiji, and ocean wildlife all over the world, continued. The dolphins that have been stolen from their family pods here in Taiji remain separated, starved, dehydrated, and depressed while living out their mindless and unnecessarily horrible new lives within the minuscule confines of concrete or netted walls.

On the 18th of December, four Bottlenose dolphins were taken to the local Dolphin Resort Hotel from the harbor sea pens, or ‘holding pens’ where dolphins are taken straight from within the killing Cove during a slaughter. After the latest capture of over 100 Bottlenose dolphins between the 11th and 17th of December, we became on high alert for transfers of dolphins from these holding pens- destined to captive facilities within Taiji and around the world. This particular transfer was the first in a continuing list that occurred over the following few weeks.

On the 20th of December we had a stark reminder that the local captive facilities greed for more wild-caught dolphins had not been satisfied by the huge capture of Bottlenose dolphins merely days before. 25-30 Striped dolphins were terrorized into the killing Cove of Taiji, over half a dozen mothers supporting their young, some newborns, were desperately trying to keep their babies out of harm’s way. Shortly into the drive, dolphin trainers from Taiji’s Whale Museum arrived in skiffs accompanied by dolphin killers. They had an order for the capture of one or more juvenile Striped Dolphins.

Mother and Calf Striped Dolphins being herded into the killing coveMother and Calf Striped Dolphins being herded into the killing cove
Photo: Sea Shepherd

The dolphins were driven up onto the beach within the killing Cove after frantically throwing themselves onto rocks in a bid to escape the killers. Then, the sounds of slaughter began. The thrashing sounds that will never leave the minds of those who have stood upon the hills overlooking the Cove echoed all around us as we knew all too well what was going on under the tarpaulins. The dolphin killers shamefully concealed the horrors within. It was not surprising at this point that we had not seen the trainers from Taiji Whale Museum emerge with captive dolphins. We often see trainers, who claim to love dolphins so passionately, standing merely feet away as dozens of dolphins are stabbed with long metal poles and left to seizure and drown in blood before coming into view from underneath the tarpaulins with their newly bought captive dolphins.

Striped Dolphin throwing itself onto rocks to escape the killersStriped Dolphin throwing itself
onto rocks to escape the killers
Photo: Sea Shepherd

On this day however, there were no dolphins taken captive from the pod. The first skiff to emerge from within the killing Cove carried the bodies of over a dozen dolphins, the second carried over a dozen more. It was not until the third skiff had left the Cove that we saw the trainers once again, hiding their faces from view. They did not deem any of the dolphins they had inspected during the slaughter ‘suitable’ enough for their facility. They left them all to be slaughtered in front of one another. We have since learned that the Taiji Whale Museum is reportedly trying to breed and capture more Striped dolphins- the dolphin killers would have had this information prior to spotting the pod, therefore specifically driving it in for the Whale Museum trainers to ‘examine’ for captivity.

On the 21st of December, ten more Bottlenose dolphins were transferred to Taiji’s Dolphin Resort Hotel from within the temporary, netted holding pens at Taiji’s Harbor. These dolphins were also sourced from the violent captures in mid-December.

On the 23rd, five Risso’s dolphins were driven into Taiji and slaughtered. One of the killers spotted the small pod just off the headlands of Taiji during the boats return from an unsuccessful hunt out at sea. All boats quickly scrambled to drive the dolphins to their untimely and barbaric fate. This slaughter marked the final drive hunt of 2012, as the boats were then secured within the Harbor for the killer’s holiday break over Christmas and New Year’s.

Risso’s Dolphins netted off within the cove, before the slaughterRisso’s Dolphins netted off within the cove, before the slaughter
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Those involved with the captive trade in Taiji must have thought that we would also take this time to be away from Taiji, that we would not continue our diligent presence within the town. They were wrong. On the 25th of December,  we monitored the Harbor as a Bottlenose dolphin was transported by truck in the late afternoon to Izu Peninsula, Japan- orchestrated by trainers and the owner of Dolphin Base in Taiji.

Over the next few days, we spent our time continuing to monitor those dolphins living their lives in captivity in Taiji- waiting for signs of movement surrounding the captive traders. By the end of December, we constantly watched as the newly captured Bottlenose dolphins were thrown (and some force fed) dead fish. We saw the trainers hastily trying to hide the fact that they needed to spray water and electrolytes over the new dolphin’s food as they became accustomed to the nutrient-poor fish that they will now eat for the rest of their lives. The lack of hydration that marine mammals obtain from dead fish in captivity as opposed to live fish that they would feed upon in the wild is usually cause for many physical and mental illnesses and diseases that they often succumb to even die from.

Dolphin trainer spraying dead fish for new Bottlenose DolphinsDolphin trainer spraying dead fish for new Bottlenose Dolphins
Photo: Sea Shepherd

On the 1st of January, we paid particular attention to the sick Pilot whale that still remains in the very same position within the sea pen at Dolphin Base as it did around this time over a year ago. The Pilot whale is both physically and mentally ill, though the dolphin trainers at Dolphin Base continue to try and teach the animal ‘tricks’. The very few commands that it does know only correspond to the need to take samples for medical testing, such as holding up its tail fluke for blood sampling. The Pilot whale often refuses to take orders from particular trainers and it remains stubborn, lethargic, and non-compliant. We watched as the small whale continuously lifted its head up and poked out its tongue at a trainer when ordered to partake in a simple ‘target’ trick- where it was asked to touch a trainers hand with the front of its head. This is a very obvious insight into the absolutely unnecessary world of captivity. These animals are far too intelligent to be reduced to pathetic tricks just to entertain humankind.

Sick Pilot Whale refusing to perform a ‘target’ trick for dolphin trainer at Dolphin BaseSick Pilot Whale refusing to perform a 'target' trick
for dolphin trainer at Dolphin Base
Photo: Sea Shepherd

On the 4th of January, we witnessed once again the transfer of a newly captured Bottlenose dolphin from the Harbor into sea pens at the Taiji Whale Museum which holds dozens and dozens of severely depressed marine mammals, all of which show little signs of life and usually only move about after they have realized that they are about to be fed. The cruelty within this facility is ongoing and horrific. During this transfer, the terrified dolphin was harnessed into a sling and craned into the back of a truck- the sling cutting into the dolphin’s pectoral fins as blood poured down.

Transfer of Bottlenose Dolphin from Harbour to Whale MuseumTransfer of Bottlenose Dolphin from Harbour to Whale Museum
Photo: Sea Shepherd

On the 5th of January, during an orientation of new Cove Guardians, we climbed the hills overlooking the killing Cove and came across a gruesome and horrific sight. The decomposing body of a Bottlenose dolphin was floating within the waters of the killing Cove. This dolphin was among the 200+ dolphins driven into Taiji on the 11th of December. The dolphin died during the six days that the pod was held within the Cove as 101 juvenile members of its family pod were captured for marine parks and 23 were slaughtered for human consumption.

Divers found the bodies of two dolphins that did not survive the process during those six horrific days. They had failed to find the body of this dolphin which has only very recently risen to the surface and swept toward the beach within the killing Cove. This is a reminder of the brutality of the captures and slaughters- and the deadly trauma that the dolphins endure during this process.

The horror occurring here in Taiji is the result of the continuation for the demand for wild-caught dolphins in captive facilities around the world. This is not a centralized issue to one town, or even one country. The need for wild dolphins to replenish the genetic diversity and maintain ‘healthy’ captive populations for the continuation of these marine parks is evident and confirmed by scientists the world over. The only way for the captures and killings to stop for good worldwide is for people to wake up and realize the detriment that they are causing by supporting the exploitation of marine mammals in captivity.

People visit these marine parks because they hold a love for dolphins. Not one single person, knowing the real truth and history behind this bloody trade, would ever in their right mind choose to support such cruelty. The trainers and managers of these facilities have a lot to gain by blinding people into thinking that their animals are happy- look a little deeper, follow the money and you’ll see for yourself that this lucrative industry has always been the driving force for dolphin drive hunts of the last 50 years or so. Or, just simply look into the eyes of these animals, they themselves tell the story of unimaginable pain and suffering.

Bottlenose Dolphin being transferred, close upBottlenose Dolphin being transferred, close up
Photo: Sea Shepherd

How will you choose to help end the atrocities? Follow and support our campaign here on the ground in Taiji as the 2013 season has recently begun once again and more dolphins and small whales will be targeted for captivity and slaughter.

You can help us on the ground here in Taiji. To find out how to become a Cove Guardian, email your interests to

Support the movement to spread the word by viewing and sharing our posts via Sea Shepherd Facebook, Cove Guardians Facebook, Sea Shepherd Twitter, Cove Guardians Twitter, and our livestream!

Head to to watch archived livestream footage from the campaign here in Taiji.

Cove Guardian,
Nicole McLachlan.

Cove Guardians David, Anna, Nathalie, Sarah, Bianca, Clive and NicoleCove Guardians David, Anna, Nathalie, Sarah, Bianca, Clive and Nicole
Photo: Sea Shepherd