Cove Guardians - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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

March 6, 2014

Operation Infinite Patience: February 20, 2014 - March 4, 2014

on February 20, 2014, the dolphin killers located a massive pod of Striped DolphinsOn February 20, 2014, the dolphin killers located a massive pod of Striped Dolphins
Photo: Sea Shepherd
Overall, the month of February has been a positive month for the dolphins with only two slaughters. For several days, the attempts of the killers were plagued by rough seas and ocean storms, severely impacting their ability to search for wild dolphins. Cove Guardians meticulously monitor the banger boats at sea and it is a comfort to see the killers struggle in their search of dolphins due to poor weather.

Unfortunately, on February 20, 2014, the dolphin killers located a massive pod of Striped Dolphins whilst they were returning to the harbor. The dolphin killers were relentless in driving this pod, which numbered 70 – 80 individuals who fought tirelessly just outside of the harbor. Eventually, the entire pod was driven into the shallow confines of the cove and their fate was sealed as the nets were drawn to prevent any escape.

Now confined in the cove, the killers forced the pod under the cover of tarps. The slaughter process began as killers tore apart the family units, killing each dolphin by a method called pithing, in which a metal rod is forced into their spinal column. This part of the slaughter process was slow and brutal, as Cove Guardians witnessed numerous dolphins tethered by their flukes thrashing in the bloody water.

With one half of the pod slaughtered, the skiffs began to transport the lifeless bodies of these dolphins. The dolphin killers without conscience ran over the remainder of the pod whilst en route to the butcher house. Due to the diligent monitoring by Cove Guardians at the butcher house, one dolphin was witnessed to be still moving upon arrival, despite the Taiji fishermen’s claims that this slaughter is humane. Unfortunately, incidents of this nature are not the exception, but rather they are common and easily witnessed despite the efforts of the dolphin killers to hide their dirty deeds.

With the other half of the pod still swimming in bloody water, the same brutal force of the killing boats that drove them into the small confines of the cove was once again used to drive them back out into the ocean. With their social family unit torn apart, the dolphins must now fend for themselves.

In total 40 – 45 dolphins were slaughtered on this date. None of these dolphins were deemed suitable for a life in captivity.

Sam Simon Serves as Honorary Cove Guardian

On February 23, award-winning Television Executive and devoted Sea Shepherd supporter Sam Simon arrived in Japan to be a voice for the dolphins. Sam is well known as a dedicated philanthropist through the charity work done by his organization, the Sam Simon Foundation. Furthermore, Sam has been unwavering in his support of Sea Shepherd, as he underwrote the purchase of the vessel, SSS Sam Simon, which Sea Shepherd Australia uses to fight for the whales in the Southern Ocean. Sam is a gifted writer, producer and director. A co-creator of The Simpsons, he is also known for his work on such hit TV shows as Taxi, Cheers, The Tracey Ullman Show and The Drew Carey Show. Sam is the recipient of nine Emmy Awards and a Peabody award.

Sam brought a number of friends with him to Taiji including actresses Missy Hargraves (“Lost”) and Alexandra Paul (“Baywatch”). Both of these women share the same devotion to animal rights and protection as Sam.

During his time in Taiji, Sam was instrumental in raising awareness of the drive hunt and captivity. He stood side by side with Cove Guardians throughout the morning as the banger boats were monitored at sea. Additionally, Sam tried to visit the Taiji Whale Museum but was immediately denied entry to the public establishment. No reason for this refusal was provided by staff at the museum.

Luckily, Missy Hargraves was fortunate enough to be admitted to the museum. While inside, she witnessed the deplorable conditions of the tanks holding captive dolphins. Missy documented algae and slime-infested tanks that were highly restrictive to the dolphins who now reside there.

While in Taiji, Sam did a number of media interviews. He, Missy Hargraves and Alexandra Paul also appeared via Skype on HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell Show. Whilst on the show, Sam was instrumental in discussing the issues relating to captivity, the slaughter and his personal history. There is no doubt that Sam continues to be a strong voice for the dolphins and animal rights.

February 26, 2014

On this date, the 2013 – 2014 season reached a conclusion. After an unsuccessful search for wild dolphins, the banger boats individually returned to the harbor. As the final boats were passing the head of the harbor, another banger boat pulled up beside the butcher house. At this point, the killers began to dismantle ‘death’s door’. For the past 6 months, this door was framed by metal rods covered in tarps to conceal the bodies of dolphins as they were transferred to the butcher house. Having this door removed signifies a conclusion of the season and is an emotional time for many Cove Guardians who have witnessed so much horror pass through this entry.

Over the preceding days, Cove Guardians continued to monitor the dolphin killers as they cleaned the butcher house, repaired nets and finally, removed the torturous banging poles from their boats. This is another significant moment, as these poles have been used for the past six months to create a wall of sound in the water, scaring thousands of dolphins into the cove.

The following species were taken by slaughter or captivity from September 1, 2013 – February 26, 2014:

Note: These are approximate numbers estimated by footage taken by on ground Cove Guardians

Species Slaughter Incidental
Bottlenose Dolphin 145 7 126
False Killer Whale 0 0 0
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin 94-104 1 16
Pacific White Sided Dolphin 0 0 8
Risso’s Dolphin 186 3 12
Short Finned Pilot Whale 59 4 1
Striped Dolphin 305-343 0 1

Although the official dolphin drive hunt season has ended, Pilot Whales are still hunted until May and many dolphin and whale species are harpooned year-round throughout the coastal waters of Japan.

We currently have two Cove Guardians that remain on the ground here in Taiji.

We must not forget about the dolphins and whales that remain in captivity around the world. Their torment is endless.

Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians are thankful for the ongoing encouragement, support and messages from our followers around the world.

Adam Daniels
Cove Guardian