Cove Guardians - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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

January 2, 2014

Operation Infinite Patience: November 23 - December 4, 2013

The atrocities committed against the dolphins of Taiji have only continued to grow throughout the current season. Again and again the killers, who claim tradition for their barbaric actions, have proven that they are involved in the slaughter for greed, not for cultural legacy.

On November 23, the killers were thirsty for blood as they drove a pod of 30-40 Striped dolphins for over three hours into the hellish cove. As the pod was netted off and driven further towards the killing shore, members of the pod sensed their imminent doom and began to throw themselves against the rocks. Their struggle to evade the killers was fruitless - killers in wetsuits would only grab and throw the frightened and injured dolphins back towards the pod. At the end of the nightmare, one Striped dolphin was taken captive, while the rest of the pod was murdered without mercy.

The next day, November 24, the killing continued, as a small pod of six Risso’s dolphins were driven into the cove for three hours. Once in the cove, the small family huddled together while they spent their last moments together before they were brutally murdered. Despite the long and exhausting drive, the pod was heard thrashing violently in pain as the barbaric killers slaughtered the entire pod.

The next two days would keep the killers away from their boats, but the Cove Guardians remained on duty, maintaining a presence in Taiji.

On November 25 a newborn Risso’s dolphin was found washed ashore. How, where, and why this dead baby washed ashore can only point to two scenarios. First, a pod of Risso’s dophins that was driven into the cove days before included babies that were dumped at sea, and the baby died as it returned towards Taiji to find his/her parents. Another, and very likely, scenario involves the lack of care Taiji Whale Museum gives to their captives. A newborn Risso’s was trapped, and subsequently lost from an enclosure only days before the finding, which could very well mean that this baby died due to the lack of proper care provided by Taiji Whale Museum to cetaceans.

Despite sunny and calm weather, the killers did not hunt on November 26th to further deepen their pockets. Instead of hunting, the killers constructed a large pen and placed it in the bay of the proposed “whale ranch” that will hold additional captive dolphins in Taiji. No dolphins were placed in the pen on this day, yet it still looms over the bay as a reminder that the drive hunts are not based on culture, only money generated from the captive industry.

The killings would again resume on November 27 when a pod of eleven Bottlenose dolphins were driven into the cove. Seven dolphins were taken into captivity, ensuring a huge profit for the killers. The remaining four pod members were seen as unfit for captivity and brutally slaughtered due to their lack of attractiveness.

As is common during all slaughters, Bottlenose dolphins struggle and suffer on the killing shore after they are pithed on November 12, 2013.

Once again the killers of Taiji found another pod of five Risso’s dolphins and herded them into the cove on November 28. While entrapped within the deathly grip of the killers and trainers, members of the pod tried desperately to escape from the killing cove, only to find additional nets to keep them trapped. Angry at the pod over their lack of cooperation, the killers were heard screaming at each other as they jostled and manhandled the dolphins to gain control. In the end, one member of the pod would be taken for captivity and immediately placed in the concrete tanks on Hotel Dolphins Resort; the remaining four pod members were murdered.

For the third consecutive day, a family of dolphins would be driven into the cove, this time it would be 25 Risso’s dolphins on November 29. Once in the confines of the killing cove, members of the pod began to sense the horrific events that would soon transpire and attempted to swim through the nets, but would only become entangled within the nets. Killers, in their usual barbaric manner, tethered the ensnared Rissos by their flukes. They then dragged and murdered the dolphins on the killing shore. Seventeen members of the pod were slaughtered on this day. The remaining eight Risso’s dolphins were driven back out to sea, These dolphins were small, young members of the pod and it is very unlikely that they survived due to the loss of the pod’s protection and from the trauma inflicted on them by the killers.

The next two days remained calm in the cove. Unfortunately, the killers would spread their terror out at sea. The drive process of herding pods of dolphins into the cove is nothing short of horrific, and a pod of dolphins would experience that first hand on December 1. Out in the ocean, the killers continuously tried to drive in a pod for over two and a half hours, but were unsuccessful. Throughout that time, the pod experienced the frightening sounds of the banger poles. However, the killers were no match for the dolphins’ will to live, as the dolphin killers came home with the look of defeat painted on their faces.

On December 2, however, the pod found by the killers would not be as lucky. After a long and grueling drive, a pod of 75-80 Bottlenose dolphins were driven into the cove. After the cove was netted off, the killers left for the day and the pod was left to huddle together for one last time in the shallow waters of the cove without food or care as their hell for the next three days began.

On December 3, the pod’s second day of entrapment, killers and trainers arrived at sunbreak to select members of the pod for captivity. The trainers, who only “love” dolphins for dollar signs, watched at the killers first ran over the pod with skiffs to separate the Bottlenose dolphins into different groups. Once the dolphins were separated, the trainers continued to watch as killers in wetsuits physically attacked, tackled, molested, and wrapped nets around members of the pod to bring them to the killing shore for further inspection. As the newly captured Bottlenose dolphins left the cove in slings, their last images included their family’s struggle to survive. At the end of the morning, ten Bottlenose dolphins would leave the cove destined for a psychotic life in a small enclosure, while the remainder of their family spent the night in the cove, full of fear and anxiety after the day’s abductions.

On December 4, the third day of the Bottlenose dolphins’ prison sentence, the killers arrived at the cove at daybreak. This time the killers were excited for the kill – not for the lure of money. After the traumatic experiences of the previous days, the fear of the Bottlenose dolphins was palpable to the Cove Guardians on the ground. Killers in wet suits tethered the tails of each Bottlenose dolphin for slaughter, and attached them to the side of a skiff before they would drag them to shore. The laughing and shouting of the killers, as the dolphins struggled to escape as they were tethered, demonstrated the cruelty of the butchers who participate in these massacres.

Each member of the pod is killed in a technique called pithing. This is a slow and painful way for each dolphin that involves a metal rod rammed into the spine.

A skiff of the killers was seen leaving the cove with movement under the tarps used to hide the horrific events that transpire in the killing cove. The movement only meant one thing - the Bottlenose dolphin did not die on the killing shore. Killers, with stone cold looks on their faces, retuned to the killing shore, where this dolphin once again felt the wrath of the killers. This Bottlenose dolphin was met with the same fate as his/her 35 family members that were slaughtered and ended their morning on the floor of the butcher house.

The remaining 30-35 Bottlenose dolphins that the killers did not deem worthy of captivity or their quota were driven back out to sea. As with all pods that are driven out, these Bottlenose dolphins do not stand much of a chance to survive after the trauma, starvation, and the loss of family that was inflicted in the town of Taiji, Japan.

These events expose the cruelty and greed of the drive hunts in Taiji, Japan; each person involved is there for the thirst to kill or to deepen their pockets – not to honor culture. Actions by all those involved transpire from September through March and the Cove Guardians will be there until the slaughter of these beautiful and majestic creatures ends. If you are interested in joining the Cove Guardians in Taiji, please email

For the Dolphins,
Scott Cator