Sea Shepherd and Taiji
On October 6, 2003, after hiding out for several weeks in the cliffs overlooking the bay, crewmembers of Sea Shepherd's Taiji Dolphin Campaign covertly filmed and photographed the hunters slaughtering dolphins in the cove. The shocking images revealing the blood-red waters of Taiji’s killing cove were carried by the media worldwide and sparked international outcry against the now-infamous drive hunt.
On November 18, 2003, two Sea Shepherd crewmembers, Allison Lance Watson and Alex Cornelissen, dove into the bay and swam out to free 15 dolphins who were to be killed the following morning. Allison and Alex were immediately arrested upon returning to shore. In order to help secure their release, Sea Shepherd Founder Captain Paul Watson wrote a letter to the Japanese police in which he stated that Sea Shepherd would not send anyone into Japan with the intention of breaking the law.
For the past several years, protestors and reporters have gone to Taiji annually on September 1 to document the beginning of the six-month seasonal hunt. In the fall of 2010, Captain Watson asked the question, “What would happen if we never left Taiji?” He asked Sea Shepherd Director of Intelligence Scott West and his daughter Elora Malama West to “go find out.” The two travelled to Taiji and were joined on the ground by several volunteers.
In 2010, the annual dolphin death toll was reduced by 50% due to the ongoing presence of Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians, who shocked the dolphin hunters with their cameras. For the first time, the entire dolphin hunt season was documented and recorded – Taiji’s bloody secret was now exposed to the world.
Operation Infinite Patience
The 2011 dolphin hunt season sparked the official beginning of Sea Shepherd’s Operation Infinite Patience campaign, which was held annually through the end of the 2014-2015 hunt season, with a growing international team of Sea Shepherd volunteers standing watch as ocean sentinels along the cove daily throughout the entire six-month hunt season each year, while abiding by Japanese law to ensure that Sea Shepherd is able to continue to have a presence in Taiji
The Cove Guardians serve as the world’s window to Taiji, documenting and live streaming every capture and every slaughter so that no dolphin or whale is taken from the cove unseen.
Operation Henkaku (Operation Metamorphosis)
On September 1, 2015, Sea Shepherd returns to Taiji for Operation Henkaku (Operation Metamorphosis), the sixth consecutive season of our Dolphin Defense Campaign.
Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians will continue to document and live stream the capture and slaughter of dolphins and small whales in the cove, exposing these atrocities to the world. However, this year’s campaign brings an additional and vitally important focus to raise awareness of the inextricable link between the dolphin slaughter and the global captive industry.