Cove Guardians - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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January 21, 2014

Operation Infinite Patience: January 5th - 14th, 2014

It has been a blood bath in Taiji this week - within 9 days, approximately 176 dolphins were viciously murdered for human consumption, and 24 dolphins were taken captive for a life of imprisonment.

During this first week of 2014, we have had a total of 18 Cove Guardians from 8 different countries on the ground in Taiji to document the atrocities. We have improved our Live Stream capabilities with new HD cameras and additions to our website We continue to be a strong presence here in Taiji.

January 5, 2014

A family of 8 Risso’s dolphins, that included juveniles, was driven into the cove this morning. The dolphin killers spotted the pod about 30 minutes after the boats left Taiji harbor at approximately 6:30am. After an eleven day holiday break, the killers were eager to murder as they hastily drove and netted the pod into the cove. None of the pod was seen fit for captivity, and all 8 Risso’s dolphins, including juveniles were slaughtered.

This is the auspicious first catch of the year. The Japanese call it “Hatsu seri” or the “first auction of the year”. Auctioneers can command a price many times the usual, and so this Risso’s pod was quite profitable.

January 6, 2014

For the second straight day, a pod of Risso’s dolphins was found just off shore from Taiji. The killers quickly spotted the dolphins, possibly tipped off by a local fisherman. The pod was found shortly after the killing fleet left Taiji harbor, but the duration of the drive was long and tedious, as the killers seemed relentless to capture the entire pod. Frightened for their lives, the Risso’s dolphins split into two groups, and while one group was victorious over the killers after a long struggle, the other pod was not. After a period of wrangling, the dolphins were driven into the cove. The killers laughed and joked at their success, as they captured 6 Risso’s dolphins. They slaughtered the 3 elder family members, while the 3 juvenile and baby Risso’s watched the slaughter in horror before they would be dumped at sea with no chance of survival. No member of the pod was seen fit for captivity.

January 7, 2014

For the third consecutive day, a pod of Risso’s dolphins was discovered in the same area, just south of Taiji. The pod was extremely large and spread out - it appeared almost like a small tidal wave of dolphins stretching out across the shipping lane.

The drive seemed endless as the dolphins fought and struggled before finally being herded into the grisly confines of the cove. This pod of Risso’s was notably larger than the pods of the previous two days.

This time there were quite a few killers in wetsuits, and the dolphins were kept in a state of fear and panic as three skiffs cornered them and ran their outboard motors within only a few feet from the dolphins. This continued as the killers arrived and made further preparations, dividing the pod with a net before slaughter. The killers could be heard shouting over the sound of splashes as they manhandled each member of the family until they found one member of the pod that was suitable for captivity. The remaining 18 family members were murdered on the shore, as the lone captive dolphin was held in a transfer sling under tarps as watching as the family was mercilessly killed.

The remaining pod swimming in the counter cove was eventually driven back out to sea later in the afternoon. We estimated there were approximately 15 dolphins driven fiercely back out to sea to fend for themselves after being traumatized all morning. These dolphins have a slim chance of survival after pure exhaustion and witnessing family being murdered.

January 9, 2014

After one brief rainy day and a break from the previous bloodshed, the killers did not waste any time. A massive Bottlenose pod of 60-70 dolphins was discovered far south of Taiji by the dolphin killers at approximately 8:30am. The pod was driven toward Taiji with haste and greed. By 9:30am, the pod was frantically separated into 2 pods and it appeared that the second pod had escaped. It was not until the first pod was netted into the killing cove at approximately 10:00am, that we saw 9 killing boats continued to drive the second pod of Bottlenose dolphins toward the harbor and ruthlessly forced the pod toward the cove. As both pods were entrapped within the cove, a second net was drawn, which divided the two pods for the duration of their imprisonment. As if today was not tortuous enough, these dolphins remained divided and held overnight until the following morning for a total of 20 hours without food – they were frantic and traumatized. The captive selection and slaughter would take place just after sunrise on the following morning.

January 10, 2014

Just as the sun was rising over the killing cove, the killers and trainers arrived via skiff. The two pods of Bottlenose dolphins had been held a total of 21 hours. Despite confusion and exhaustion, these dolphins fought for every last moment of freedom.

The captive selection began just after 7:00am as the pod was further divided into four separate groups. The division made it much easier for the killers, but caused considerable distress for the dolphins, as they were separated from family and forced to watch their pod mates being manhandled by the killers. The process was quite extreme as divers in the water simultaneously wrestled dolphins into nets for captivity and tethered flukes for dolphins about to be slaughtered. As one dolphin was forced into a small sling and prepared for transfer, another was brutally slaughtered under the tarps of the killing cove. The cove soon turned a bright crimson from the mass murder. Simultaneously, captive dolphins emerged via sling and headed toward the captive holding pens located in the harbor.

After hours and hours of selection and slaughter, a total of 13 dolphins were taken captive. As one skiff transferred captives, one dolphin became catatonic and the skiff turned back toward the cove to dump the eventually lifeless dolphin back under the tarp for slaughter. Being held overnight and the trauma of today's horrific events were just too unbearable for this dolphin.

After the last skiff of dead bodies was transferred to the butcher house, the final number brutally murdered was 24 Bottlenose dolphins. The remaining pod of 25-30 dolphins was forced to swim and drink their family's blood and was eventually driven back out to sea later this afternoon after the killers took their lunch break.

January 11, 2014

The Fisherman’s Union was closed and the dolphin killing boats remained in port. Cove Guardians were able to monitor the captive dolphins at the holding pens and Dolphin Base. We have not had a visual on the lone Beluga whale for several weeks now. In fact, there is a Bottlenose dolphin that is now in the same pen. We will continue to monitor and update as we have additional information.

The new captive pen that is located in the bay remains empty and no cetaceans have been added to the captive area.

According to Taiji police, we are unable to photograph at Hotel Dolphin Resort. We cannot obtain footage of the captive tanks or cages where seals are located -it is considered a violation of privacy. However, at a nearby public restroom, cameras are in place to monitor bathroom stalls and urinals. This is considered legal and used for security. There are a lot of double standards, and rules change daily here in Taiji. We may be the minority, but we are certainly not the criminals in this town.

January 12, 2014

All 12 killing boats left Taiji harbor this morning just before 7:00am. Only half of the killers were on the boats, as the other half stayed at the Fisherman's Union, prepping nets and skiffs for captive transfers. Dolphin killers in dive suits transferred 2 Bottlenose dolphins to Taiji Whale Museum and 6 Bottlenose dolphins to Hotel Dolphin Resort. The dolphins were placed in slings and dragged via skiff to both captive facilities, which are located on the opposite end of Taiji – a fair distance for dolphins to dragged. The captives were hoisted by a crane and lifted high into the air to be placed in above ground tanks filled with chlorinated water. This will be their temporary home until they are purchased for a large sum of money and transported to a marine park around the world.

As the transfer was in progress, 10 killing boats were driving a pod of Striped dolphins toward Taiji and, within an hour, the entire pod was netted into the killing cove.

Cove Guardians were scattered about town to document both the transfer and the drive.

The echoing sound of the killers yelling and laughing did not cover up the sound of the thrashing of the dolphins, as they were viciously murdered one by one. The killers seemed hurried as they slaughtered the entire pod and then dumped the bodies into the same skiffs that were used to transport captives earlier this morning. The cove soon turned a bright crimson and it became eerily silent as the dead bodies were hauled off to the Taiji butcher house. No lives were spared today and all 40-45 Striped dolphins were slaughtered for human consumption.

January 13, 2014

The fourth pod of Risso's dolphins to be found this week were immediately discovered just after the killers left Taiji harbor. The dolphin killers did not delay in herding the pod toward the killing cove. The Risso’s were so docile and appeared to be exhausted as they were divided into two groups by the killers and driven toward Taiji within an hour. Before 9:00am the entire pod was callously murdered under the tarps and all that remained were the dead carcasses that were being dragged to the Taiji butcher house. It seemed as if the killers were robots and the dolphins were being driven, herded and killed via an assembly line. Just another day for the killers as some were seen smoking their cigarettes as they sat on the 15 transferred dead bodies. No lives were spared today as the entire pod was annihilated.

January 14, 2014

A pod of 60-65 Pantropical Spotted dolphins (including several babies) was brutally driven into the killing cove today, adding to an already bloody and horrific week in Taiji. The entire Pantropical Spotted pod was decimated within minutes and all that was left was a bright blood red cove.

Ten Spotted dolphins were ripped from the ocean and kidnapped from their family for a lifetime of captivity. Dolphin killers and trainers restrained these dolphins, as their family members, including babies, were slaughtered right beside them in the killing cove. As the slaughtering was still in progress, the bloody and injured captives were transferred via skiff and heartlessly tossed into one single 10'x10' harbor holding pen. The captives’ chances of survival are very slim due to injuries and the emotional trauma of being separated from their pod.

We are now on Instagram at Official Cove Guardians Instagram!

For the dolphins,
Melissa Sehgal
Cove Guardian Senior Campaign Leader