Cove Guardians - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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

September 12, 2013

Operation Infinite Patience: September 10, 2013

As the fourth season of Operation Infinite Patience commences here in Taiji, the dolphin drive season so far has proven to be nothing less than profitable for the Taiji Fisherman’s Union and all those involved in the dolphin captive trade.

On September 1, 2013, the dolphin killers did not waste time as they spotted a large pod of 60-70 Bottlenose dolphins. As the pod was netted into the cove, hundred of activists and volunteers, both local and international, showed their support for Japan Dolphin Day where they voiced their opposition to the slaughter while various media outlets covered the events. After the pod was held overnight in the cove without food or care, killers and trainers from all captive facilities within Taiji selected 18 juvenile dolphins for a life of captivity. The remainder of the pod who were seen as unfit for captivity were driven back out to sea by the same brutal method used to drive them into the cove.

On September 4, 2013, six of the newly captured Bottlenose dolphins were transferred from the Taiji harbor holding pens to concrete chlorinated tanks at Dolphin Resort Hotel. These six dolphins were transferred via sling and hoisted high in the air by crane and slowly lowered into their temporary home, far from their natural environment -- the ocean.

On September 6, 2013, just after 7 in the morning, all twelve boats were in formation just south of Taiji. The killing boats came together then separated as they chased this pod for more than 7 hours, until they finally managed to wrangle the pod into the cove. This pod included a baby and many juveniles who struggled to not only stay with their mothers, but to stay alive as they fought against the killers for hours before they were held overnight until captive selection the following morning.

Trainers from all three captive facilities and the dolphin killers shared their morning coffee before they continued their day together kidnapping members of the Bottlenose pod. Throughout the morning members of this family were ripped apart and transferred via sling to the Taiji captive holding pens. It was ironic that one dolphin chosen for captivity was returned to the cove via sling, and after the captive selection it was witnessed that one juvenile was transported to the butcher house via sling. The dolphin was hidden discreetly by tarps, in an effort to hide the resulting casualty of their actions.

It was important for the dolphin killers to hide this death due to the so-called “code of ethics” put fourth by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, or WAZA. Its principles, that were developed in partnership with the Nagoya Aquarium whose cetaceans are purchased from Dolphin Base in Taiji, states that in September all Bottlenose dolphins purchased by their members can be from a drive hunt, but that no dolphins from the pod should be slaughtered. This is important because WAZA claims to be anti-slaughter, however, they directly support and finance all those involved in the horrific slaughter that transpires in Taiji.

It is important to specify that one of their 1300 members is the Taiji Whale Museum, whose trainers routinely enter the cove side-by-side with killers throughout the slaughter season.

WAZA Ethics and Animal Welfare Committee briefing on general principles and practice with particular reference to dolphin capture developments, 2010

Members of the Bottlenose pod become entrapped in nets as they frantically tried to escape the killers and trainers.Members of the Bottlenose pod become entrapped in nets as they frantically tried to escape the killers and trainers.
Photo: Sea Shepherd

As the killing and kidnapping season begins in Taiji, it is vital to note the potential number of lives that could be taken from the waters off of the coast of Taiji by both killers and trainers alike. The 2013-2014 season quota is as follows:

  • 134 Pacific white-sided dolphins
  • 450 Striped dolphins
  • 557 Bottlenose dolphins
  • 400 Pantropical spotted dolphins
  • 265 Risso dolphins
  • 137 Short-Finned pilot whales
  • 70 False Killer whales.

We will continue to live stream each drive hunt, slaughter and transfer throughout the season with two HD cameras for supporters at home to view on their computers or smartphones. To view our live streams please go to

We currently have 10 Cove Guardian volunteers on the ground in Taiji and will continue to have an unprecedented number of volunteers from around the world join us for this campaign to save dolphins. If you would like to join us here in Taiji, please email

The dolphins and small whales are the only victims here. We must all remind ourselves of this each and every day. It does not matter which organization you stand with as long as you stand for something, keep up the fight, and remember the truth behind your beliefs. Compassion is not enough; we must act.

Thank you once again for the enormous support and messages via social media. For those of us on the ground here in Taiji, we cannot do it without your help.

For the dolphins,

Melissa Sehgal
Senior Cove Guardian Campaign Leader

Cove Guardians Otto, Martha, Graziella, Hieko, Ashley, Scott, Melissa, Sabrina, Jack, and Mark.Cove Guardians Otto, Martha, Graziella, Hieko, Ashley, Scott, Melissa, Sabrina, Jack, and Mark.
Photo: Sea Shepherd