Visualise dolphins jumping and performing tricks for tourists as they clap and cheer. Children laughing as their parents sit nearby. Then visualise the fresh scent of newly spilled blood, the screams of mothers as their babies are ripped from their sight and dead bodies being dragged away one by one. You may think it is a sick and twisted plot to an upcoming horror movie. No, this is reality and is the killing cove of Taiji, Japan.
Taiji is in the works of constructing a 'Whale Ranch', a large-scale marine park and breeding facility that will hold 50-100 captive baleen whales, pilot whales and various species of dolphins. Taiji is already ground zero for the captive dolphin trade and this new construction will only increase revenue for this fishing town that still claims dolphin hunting is 'cultural'. When in fact the demand for dolphin meat is minimal and the true profit is in the exporting of trained captive dolphins.
As tourists will flock to this new and massive marine sanctuary, dolphins and small whales will continue to be slaughtered just around the corner in Hatakejiri Bay, that is infamously known as 'The Cove'.
These dolphins and whales will be driven, hunted and ripped from their mothers, taken prisoner, and fed a daily allowance of dead fish in exchange for performing daily tricks. A trained dolphin can sell for up to $150,000-$200,000 US dollars. Although it is illegal in the United States to import a wild dolphin, many countries around the world continue to purchase their dolphins from Taiji for marine parks, dolphinariums, and 'swim with dolphin' programs despite knowing their origin.
One by one, the females and juveniles are taken from their families, as the remaining unwanted pod members are slaughtered.
Dolphin trainers that claim to love dolphins work hand-in-hand with those that butcher dolphins into meat for human consumption. The hypocrisy is unreal.
The mayor of Taiji, Kazutaka Sangen, claims the 'pithing method' is a completely humane, painless, and quick method of slaughter, yet all evidence proves otherwise. This process entails the herding of dolphins and whales into the shallow waters of the killing cove and tethering their flukes as these cetaceans lay defenseless. A metal rod is then hammered into their spinal cord to 'paralyze' them. To hide the excess blood, a wooden plug is inserted into the fresh wound. Dolphins are often still conscious and thrashing while en route to the butcher house.
On 6 October 2013 after they were held captive in extreme weather conditions for over 2 days, 16 short finned pilot whales were slaughtered.
Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians documented the dolphin killers as they tethered the fluke of the larger matriarch of the pod. She lay struggling in the shallow water for over 30 minutes while the juvenile pod continued to linger at her side. The thrashing intensified as the killers in wetsuits wrestled the entire pod away until the adult female was dragged under draped tarps toward the killing shore. The screams echoed above the cove as the metal rod was ruthlessly penetrated into her spine. Simultaneously the remaining pod continued to thrash in protest against the rocks as the waters of the cove turned a bright red from their family members' blood. The matriarch did not die immediately. Our Cove Guardian Live Stream captured her struggling under the tarps for over 30-45 minutes before she was dragged out toward the butcher house and even at that time, we believe she was still conscious and moving.
Sixteen short finned pilot whales were taken from their home in the ocean that day and murdered. The same killing boats that drove them into the cove and that transfer the dead bodies out of it to the butcher house drove back out the remaining pod to sea. The 'drive out' process is just as gruelling as the hunt. The whales often linger and refuse to leave their slaughtered pod members and the killing boats have to force them to leave by using same technique and methods.
Despite exhaustion, fatigue, and trauma, these whales must fend for themselves without their adult family members. Many do not survive and are found dead days after. In fact, we have discovered at least three dead juvenile pilot whales that have washed up along the shoreline of Taiji. The small bodies of decomposing young whale calves are quickly taken by the dolphin killers to the butcher house to hide the carnage.
These atrocities are only a few of many that occur on a daily basis throughout the duration of the dolphin drive season.
Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians continue to apply pressure on Taiji as we maintain a constant presence through out documentation and exposure of the excessive methods and relentless brutality that continues to wipe out these cetaceans. There are no studies on, or accountability for these mammals that are protected in other parts of the world.
By our presence throughout the entire killing season, Japan is forced to spend additional funds to hire police, security, and take other preventative measures to prevent the Cove Guardians from revealing the truth. These expenses contribute to offset the profits gained from the killings and capturing of the dolphins and small whales.
This is our fourth season of Operation Infinite Patience. We have volunteers that travel from all over the world to be here to bear witness, document, and expose the dolphin captive trade and slaughters. Cove Guardians are on the ground Live Streaming every slaughter and captive transfer for the world to see. (http://livestream.seashepherd.org).
We are not against Japan as a country, we are not here to break Japanese laws, but we are here to shine an international spotlight on the daily atrocities that occur in Taiji. To join us here on the ground in Taiji, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We will not stop until the slaughter ends."
Senior Cove Guardian Campaign Leader
Follow Melissa Sehgal on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Melissa_Sehgal