Cove Guardians - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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

February 22, 2014

Operation Infinite Patience: January 29th - February 18th, 2014

January 29, 2014

Cove Guardians show support for World Love For Dolphins Day in Japanese from Taiji.Cove Guardians show support for World Love For Dolphins Day in Japanese from Taiji
Photo: Sea Shepherd
On January 29, four Pantropical spotted dolphins were transported out of Taiji. About 11:00am, the killers and trainers were observed by Cove Guardians as they transferred four Pantropical Spotted Dolphins by skiff across the harbor. Each dolphin was contained in a tight sling strung over the side of the skiff as it completed a slow transit over the harbor toward a truck parked at the Fishermen’s Union.

Each sling was carried onto the truck as the killers struggled to handle each 120kg (265 lb) dolphin. This process of lifting the dolphins appeared to cause extreme discomfort for the dolphins, as they twisted and warped their bodies within the sling. Once inside the truck, each dolphin was placed into a transport crate for the journey to their next chapter - a life in captivity.

At 12:02pm, the doors of the truck were closed and Cove Guardians prepared themselves to monitor and report on this transport, demonstrating the link between the slaughter and the captive industry. Under police escort, the truck pulled away from the Fisherman’s Union as Cove Guardians began to follow. Whilst in pursuit, there were many times when the truck would exceed the speed limit by upwards of 20 km/h (12.5 mph) for short periods of time. This breach of the law was ignored by police on multiple occasions as Cove Guardians followed within the law. Fortunately, red traffic control lights slowed down the transport truck allowing Cove Guardians to once again continue the pursuit.

The pursuit continued past Wakayama, Osaka, Okayama, and Hiroshima, at many times under police escort by differing jurisdictions. The generally poor and aggressive driving of the transport truck was monitored and we can only imagine the pain the dolphins must have been suffering as they were likely tossed around in their crates. Many times, water was seen to leak out the sides of the truck - the likely origin being from the small transport crates.

After some 950km (590 miles) and 16 hours of driving and now in the darkness of night, the truck had reached the final destination - Oita Marine Palace Aquarium. Cove Guardians were met at the gates by staff holding up signs written only in English stating, ‘No Entry’. Cove Guardians observed the truck at the rear of the facility, as each dolphin was unloaded under the cover of darkness to their future life in an aquarium.

There is no doubt that this is proof that the same killers who slaughter thousands of dolphins continue to profit from the captive industry.

February 4 – February 18, 2014

The month of February has been very positive for the wild dolphins of Japan and worldwide media attention. As the hunt season nears its end, much of the catch quota remains unclaimed by the killers. Though “blue cove” days are good news for wild dolphins swimming past Taiji, consecutive slaughter-free days are no different for the daily torment of the dolphins held throughout the captive facilities in Taiji. The dolphin killers continue to work with trainers from Dolphin Base, Dolphin Resort Hotel and Taiji Whale Museum to rearrange pens and transfer dolphins that are seen only as a commodity.

International political social pressure continues to build. A group of celebrities have expressed horror and dismay at the massacre in Taiji, including veteran Cove Guardian and TV personality Simone Reyes, Russell Simmons, Sam Simon, Sean Penn, Cher, Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron, Ellen DeGeneres and other international TV personalities. The celebrities have presented a letter to Caroline Kennedy, US Ambassador to Japan, for delivery to President Barack Obama, urging him to not sign a trade agreement (Trans-Pacific Partnership) until Japan bans the capture and slaughter of dolphins. The letter does not directly support or oppose the trade agreement; rather it urges that the barbaric hunt be a key factor in the negotiations.

With the recent acquisition of the albino dolphin Shoujo, Cove Guardians continue to monitor the condition of this unique dolphin that currently resides in a small pool in the Taiji Whale Museum. Shortly after this acquisition, the Taiji Whale Museum erected tarps to prevent Cove Guardians from monitoring this dolphin from the public footpath areas. Once again, this is proof that the captive industry is ashamed of their practices, yet is still willing to sell tickets to the dolphin show throughout their days of operation. Through diligence and patience, monitoring is still achieved. Cove Guardians are continually concerned about the health of Shoujo, as she appears very lethargic, only surfacing once or twice per minute in a degraded rusty pool.

World Love For Dolphins Day

On February 14, 2014, much of the western world celebrated Valentine’s Day. Simultaneously, demonstrations took place around the world titled World Love for Dolphins Day. These demonstrations were peaceful and took place outside many Japanese consulates in cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Seattle and in front of the Embassy in Washington D.C.

Cove Guardians remained on the ground in Taiji and, despite inclement weather came together at The Cove, and displayed messages to honor the families of dolphins and small whales that were destroyed at this infamous location. This was broadcast on Livestream attracting thousands of viewers.

Cove Guardian Campaign Director Scott West Refused Entry – February 16, 2014

Scott West, a retired US Federal Agent, was denied entry to Japan this week. Scott West is the director of the Cove Guardian campaign and has travelled to Japan many times without any incident, arrest or charge. Scott West is responsible for establishing many of the rules and protocols that have ensured that Japanese law is constantly respected by those volunteers on the ground.

On entry to Japan, Scott West was detained and interrogated by immigration for four hours. Despite Article 23 of the Japanese Constitution which allows Freedom of Press, Scott West was denied entry to Japan on the basis that he would be photographing the dolphin killers against their wishes.

Unfortunately, Cove Guardians are often held in immigration for similar reasons. The result tends to vary, with many Cove Guardians sent home whilst others are allowed to stay. Incidents of this nature are only further proof that the Cove Guardian campaign is well noticed by the Japanese Government and continues to bring shame on Japan’s "tradition."

February 17, 2014

The torment of the albino dolphin Shoujo has continued and on this date, Shoujo was once again moved to another location within the Taiji Whale Museum. Cove Guardian sources have supplied photos now showing her residing in an algae-infested, mixed-species aquarium tank. Shoujo appears to be highly distressed, swimming frantically in circles and having very little interaction with other dolphins.

These behavioral actions of Shoujo and the deplorable state of the neglected Taiji Whale Museum prove that dolphins are not suitable for captivity, as their needs are constantly ignored.

The captivity at Dolphin Resort Hotel does not stop at dolphins. This facility also imprisons Harbour Seals and Sea Turtles in deplorable conditions.

The season is due to end March 1 and the cove has been blue for two weeks. At the time of writing, there are 20 Cove Guardians on the ground in Taiji, many of whom will remain a constant presence until the end of the season. We thank all of our supporters who continue to follow the campaign.

Adam Daniels
Cove Guardian