Dolphin Base #tweet4taiji

As a Cove Guardian, it was not only my responsibility to report on and document the daily drive hunt and slaughter, but to also monitor the daily activity at Dolphin Base. For me, Dolphin Base is one of the saddest places to see, like the Taiji Harbor pens that hold captive dolphins, it is basically a floating sea prison.

The next three photos give you an idea of what Dolphin Base looks like from left to right. When I say floating sea prison I really mean it. There are a total of 9 pens floating behind the Dolphin Resort Hotel in Taiji that hold captive dolphins and whales, which also happens to be down the road from the Whale Museum which also holds many captive dolphins and whales.

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Far left pens, the one in front held captive bottlenose dolphins and false killer whales. The pen in the back with the black tarp once held beluga whales obtained in a trade with Russia for bottlenose dolphins.

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The middle sea pen, is the largest of all the pens at Dolphin, and is also an entertainment pen. During my time in Taiji there was 5 bottlenose dolphins in this pen.

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On the right there are 6 captive pens, which held bottlenose dolphins and pacific white sided dolphins.

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An idea of what the dolphins go through when the ocean is rough and windy.

I had previously seen photos of dolphin base prior to my visit to Taiji, but once again nothing really prepares you for the experience of seeing this with your own eyes. The first time I walked up to Dolphin Base, my heart broke seeing the conditions these dolphins are forced to live in day and day out. You realize just how small these captive pens are, how many dolphins are crammed into them and you continue see the dolphins listlessly float at the surface or continuously swim in the same direction and breach in the exact same spot over and over again. To me this cries out boredom, depression and frustration. Not being able to leave, not being able to fend for yourself and being completely dependent upon the trainers who were also responsible for the rest of your family members being slaughtered. These dolphins to some people may be considered the “lucky” ones, since they were chosen by the killers and trainers for the captive entertainment industry and avoided slaughter. But honestly what is better death or life of imprisonment? I leave with this question and some photos which I took of the course of my time as a Cove Guardian at Dolphin Base of the poor innocent souls destined to live out their lives performing tricks for dead fish.

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False Killer whale – notice how you can the ribs of this whale from malnourishment

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Bottlenose dolphins – on the dolphin breaching you can again see the rib cage of this dolphin

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Bottlenose dolphin being ignored while trainers prepare dead fish that this dolphin will have to perform tricks correctly for in order to eat.

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Pacific white sided dolphin performing being conditioned or trained for your entertainment, but for them simply to just get some dead fish

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Spy Hoping to see what is going on in the other captive pens. The bottlenose dolphins behind this pacific white sided dolphin were being fed/trained at this point.

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Bottlenose dolphin sent by a trainer to the opposite side of this pen to hold this position until told otherwise by a trainer. Heartbreaking.

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Pacific White Sided Dolphin continuously breached in this corner of the pen, along with the 3-4 others in this sea prison

After reading this post and seeing these photos I hope that all of you will think twice before visiting Sea World, Marineland Canada or any other similar Dolphinarium or swim with dolphin program. Chances are that if you do go, these may be the dolphins you will see or ones that were also taken from their life of freedom in the ocean after having witnessed their family slaughtered. These dolphins are then broken in, conditioned or trained to perform tricks for food. Please do not support captivity! Dolphins are dying in Taiji to entertain you and many brave people are fighting to put an end to these atrocities. If you support the captive dolphin industry they you are also supporting the dolphin slaughter in Taiji. Instead please be a voice for the voiceless!

For the dolphins and whales of Taiji held captive and those that were slaughtered needlessly.

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Checking in on the dolphins at Dolphin Base

My Journey to Taiji #tweet4taiji

My journey to Taiji had been a year in the making. After consistently following the Cove Guardian campaign, in December of last year I made the commitment to join in the fight to be a voice for the dolphins. Becoming a Cove Guardian was an honor.

After my 30 hour trip of planes and airports I arrived in Osaka, Japan. A little bit of a culture shock for me, having only travelled within North America. Landing in a foreign country where I did not speak the language was a challenge at first, but the Japanese people are amazingly friendly and helpful!

After spending my first night in Osaka, I had the daunting task of taking the train to Taiji. I’ve never been on a train before, so having to switch trains multiple times and not being able to communicate properly, left me feeling a little stressed and nervous. Luckily, by chance I managed to meet some fellow Cove Guardians on the train! What a sigh of relief this was, meeting the first of my new Cove Guardian family and not having to make the remainder of the trip on my own! Thanks to Clive, Michelle and Bator for making the train ride a little less stressful for me!

Taiji is exactly as described by Ric O’Barry in the documentary The Cove … A twilight zone … everywhere you look there is a painting, monument or writing on the sidewalks of dolphins and whales. If you didn’t know any better you would think Taiji loved dolphins and whales.

Nothing can really prepare you for the experience of being in Taiji and it is not something that can be easily be put into words either. I am sure that each and every Cove Guardian remembers the exact moment they first saw the infamous Cove. For me, the first time was a simple glance while passing by in a car. The sight of it almost takes your breathe away, one because it really is such a beautiful place and two because you instantly remember how many dolphins and whales have lost their lives at the hands of the Taiji fisherman there. The moment I actually set foot on the shore of the Cove is something I will never forget. I literally just stood there for a few moments taking it all in and in disbelief that I was actually there. Unfortunately my first time on the shore of the Cove was also the second time I would witness a drive in process and a pod of dolphins fight for their lives and eventually lose their life for the sole purpose of human consumption. The only thing that keeps you going in moments such as this, is to pick up your camera and start taking photos, since it is the only weapon you have in Taiji.

Witnessing a pod of dolphins spending their last moments together in fear, frustration, panic and hearing those last few breathes they take as they are pushed under the tarps of killing shore is utterly heartbreaking. But I take solace in the fact that without the Cove Guardians and Operation Infinite Patience the atrocities of the Cove would continue to go unnoticed and unreported to the world and many would not know the horrible secret Taiji attempts to hide.  It is because of the Cove Guardians that there is and will continue to be a constant international spotlight on the daily atrocities that are occurring in Taiji and I am proud to have been apart of this campaign.

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Proudly standing on the shore of the Infamous Cove

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Sitting on the rocks of the Cove. Notice the fence and keep out sign, built to prohibit a direct view into the killing cove.

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Beautiful sunrise at the Cove

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Proudly holding the flag in Taiji harbor as the boats come back empty handed.

After I manage to go through about 8000 photos, I will post more detailed information of my time in Taiji as a Cove Guardian.

If you have any interest in joining the Cove Guardians on the ground in Taiji, do not hesitate, send an email to coveguardian@seashepherd.org and ask for an application. I promise you that it will be an experience of a lifetime and being surrounded by the passionate, like-minded people involved with this amazing campaign will be one of the best things you do. Take the journey to Taiji and be a voice for the voiceless!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only that ever has.” Margaret Mead

For the dolphins!

Captivity & Death: This is Taiji #tweet4taiji

After being held for over 21 hours in the killing cove, a family of 33 Bottlenose dolphins were torn apart with 12 being dolphins taken captive and the rest of the pod brutally slaughtered.

Once all the killers, including trainers, were in the cove, the pod was herded to the killing shore for an inspection of each individual member. Throughout this captive selection the thrashing of the pod can be heard high above the cove which is followed by the blood seeping into the water, leaving us with broken hearts that these dolphins were once again the victims of the profit and greed of the Taiji fishermen.

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Killers manhandle the dolphins into nets during the captive selection

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The captive selection that marine parks do not want you to see

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Being driven towards the killing shore with only two options: death or a life of captivity

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Taiji trainers and killers will seek big money from all the captives taken today

Those not taken for captivity, were needlessly and inhumanely slaughtered for human consumption.

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After a total of 21 dolphins slaughtered the cove runs red

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Tarps are drawn to hide the bloodshed, but through a gap you can see the bloody bodies in the water

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Cove Guardians “One dolphin was seen still conscious under the tarps, writhing around in his/her own blood.”

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Several Bottlenose bodies floating in the waters of the killing cove, under tarps the killers use in an attempt to hide the bloodshed.

Reminder to all of those who are contemplating a visit to Sea World, Marineland Canada, Discovery Cove or any other similar captive marine mammal facility or swim with dolphin program …. your ticket to such places supports the annual dolphin drive hunt in Taiji. Simply stated … Please do not support captivity … dolphins are literally dying to entertain you!

For the Cove Guardians bearing witness and documenting the atrocities that are currently occurring in Taiji … THANK YOU … the world would not know the ongoing brutality against dolphins and whales in the waters of Taiji!

For the dolphins!

Help @THEMikeGarrett Fight Marineland Canada

Marineland Canada is an infamous captive marine mammal park located in Niagara Falls Ontario Canada, which has one of the worst records in the world for deaths of orcas, dolphins and beluga whales. Details of animal abuse and neglect were brought forward by 15 employees in 2012 in a widely published expose in the Toronto Star newspaper. Marineland has a 50 year history of systematic abuse of animals, people, the environment and the legal and political systems. (Source)

MikeGarrett

Recently activist, Mike Garrett @THEMikeGarrett has been served with a 1.5 million dollar lawsuit by Marineland. This lawsuit follows several weeks of Mike standing on public property and offering leaflets to people exiting Marineland Canada. At the very beginning of this peaceful action of public protest the owner of Marineland, John Holer, was captured on video threatening Mike with violence in an attempt to intimidate him from exercising the fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In their claim against Mike, Marineland has made numerous false and unproven accusations about his activities near the park. Along with monetary damages they seek to limit his abilities to engage in peaceful and legal opposition against Marineland.

Unfortunately, Marineland is a giant corporation that has limitless resources and is picking on an average citizen who chose to stand up and fight against the ongoing atrocities of Marineland. Mike needs help to retain proper and competent legal representation to fight Marineland on behalf of all of us. If we choose to allow Marineland to successfully sue Mike, then unfortunately this means they can and most likely will do this to anyone else who choses to stand up for their beliefs and fight to shut down Marineland.

For anyone who believes that this is just cause, believes that we all have the right to stand up for our beliefs and wants to be a voice for the countless animals and marine mammals at Marineland Canada, then please consider helping Mike by donating whatever you can.

While I do not know Mike personally, I know what he wants to stand up and fight for and I support him 100% in his fight against Marineland!

For more information and how you can help Mike visit: http://www.gofundme.com/3o192g

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For all the animals and marine mammals captive at Marineland Canada.

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Sharks, A Whale & Eco-Pirate – Must see documentaries!

Sharkwater: For filmmaker Rob Stewart, exploring sharks began as an underwater adventure. What it turned into was a beautiful and dangerous life journey into the balance of life on earth. riven by passion fed from a lifelong fascination with sharks, Stewart debunks historical stereotypes and media depictions of sharks as bloodthirsty, man-eating monsters and reveals the reality of sharks as pillars in the evolution of the seas. Filmed in visually stunning, high definition video, Sharkwater takes you into the most shark rich waters of the world, exposing the exploitation and corruption surrounding the world’s shark populations in the marine reserves of Cocos Island, Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

The Whale: tells the true story of a young, wild killer whale – an orca – nicknamed Luna, who lost contact with his family on the coast of British Columbia and turned up alone in a narrow stretch of sea between mountains, a place called Nootka Sound. Orcas are social. They live with their families all their lives. An orca who gets separated usually just fades away and dies. Luna was alone, but he didn’t fade away. There weren’t any familiar orcas in Nootka Sound, but there were people, in boats and on the shore. So he started trying to make contact. And people welcomed him. Most of them. This contact did not turn out to be simple. It was as if we humans weren’t ready for him. THE WHALE celebrates the life of a smart, friendly, determined, transcendent being from the other world of the sea who appeared among us like a promise out of the blue: that the greatest secrets in life are still to be discovered.

Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson: “Eco-Pirate” tells the story of a man on a mission to save the planet and its oceans. The film follows professional radical ecologist, Captain Paul Watson as he repeatedly flouts the law, so that he may apprehend what he sees as the more serious law-breakers: the illegal poachers of the world. Using verité sequences shot aboard his ship as a framing device, the documentary examines Watson’s personal history as an activist through archival footage and interviews, while revealing the impact of this relentless pursuit on his personal life. From the genesis of Greenpeace to sinking a pirate whaling ship off Portugal, and from clashes with fisherman in the Galapagos to Watson’s recent headline-grabbing battles with the Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctica, the film chronicles the extraordinary life of the most controversial figure in the environmental movement; the heroics, the ego, the urgency of the world’s original eco-pirate.

For the oceans!

Whale Wars Heating Up In Antarctica

The dolphin drive hunt in Taiji has finally come to an end for 2012-2013 season, however Japan is unfortunately still on their quest of killing whales. The war currently being played out in Antarctica has the Japanese attempting to harpoon and kill whales in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary under the guise of “research” and for commercial purpose.

Sea Shepherd volunteers are currently risking their lives for the whales, as can be seen in the following video.

It is alarming that the Japanese whalers will go to such lengths in their attempt to continue whaling in Antarctica. This is simply a display of no regard for the safety of other human beings. I have watched every season of Whale Wars and am still astonished at what is currently happening! It is highly reminiscent of when the Japanese whalers intentionally ran over and ending up sinking the Ady Gil. You can see in the following video how the Japanese vessel intentionally turns into the Ady Gil, thankfully no one was injured.

The Nisshin Maru repeatedly ramming all Sea Shepherd vessels is an immediate cause for concern especially for the many courageous volunteers aboard all Sea Shepherd vessels currently putting their live on the line to save whales! Thankfully everyone is currently safe and no injuries have been reported.

The following photos courtesy of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on Facebook, show just how close the Nisshin Maru comes to and then collides with the Bob Barker.

 

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Via Sea Shepherd New Zealand Zero Tolerance Update. “All attempts by the Nisshin Maru to refuel yesterday failed. The Sea Shepherd ships held their ground. All attempts to kill whales yesterday failed thanks to our inflatable crews intervening. No refuelling or whaling today because it is extremely bad weather, freezing sleet, high winds, heavy seas. Good for us, bad for them. We love bad weather down here and thankfully there is a lot of it and it will become worse each day until the conditions force the poachers from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary by the Ides of March. The Japanese Defence Force ship Shirase is keeping their distance. The Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker continue to tail the Nisshin Maru and the Sam Simon continues to tail the tanker Sun Laurel. The Shonan Maru and the three killer boats are scattered about, everybody just wasting fuel and going nowhere which works for us. As intense and as tough as this campaign has become, it is also the most effective season we have ever undertaken. Last year they took 26% of their kill quota. The year before that they took only 17% of their kill quota and this year it will be much lower than 17%. These poachers are going to have a very light load to take back to Japan and their efforts will be once again – a financial disaster”

For the whales!

 

Taiji Action Day for Dolphins 2013 – Online Protest

Given the fact that I live in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada I unfortunately do not have the opportunity to attend in person one the many Global Taiji Action Days coming up on February 22, 2013.  Call of the Cove tweeted yesterday that there be would an online protest to participate and I was thrilled to have the chance to be involved with this day!

If you are unable to attend one of the many world wide Global Taiji Action Days then I suggest you check out Taiji Action Day for Dolphins 2013 Online Protest on Facebook. All the information is there on what to do and it is fairly simple and easy!

Mention it to your co-workers or friends … who knows they might just be willing to join in and take a stand for the dolphins of Taiji! All I had to do was mention it at work and was pleasantly surprised with how many people did not hesitate to participate!

For the Dolphins!!

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While most people might have spent their Sunday evening watching the Grammy’s, the horrors of the Taiji dolphin killers once again wreaked havoc within the infamous cove. A pod of 100-110 striped dolphins was netted into the killing cove after being driven for over two hours.

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As you can see here, the family of striped dolphins was divided within the cove and then slaughtered one by one in front of each other.

The killers hammer a metal rod into the blowhole, which paralyzes the dolphin but does not kill them. They then slowly die by lying on the shore suffocating or drowned by having their flukes tied with rope and then dragged by skiff to the Taiji butcher house. This is clearly a slow. painful and  inhumane way to die.

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About 80-90 striped dolphins were slaughtered yesterday in the Taiji killing cove, while the remaining pod was forced to swim in their families blood and held for several hours before being driven back out to sea.

Those pod members who did not suffer an unfortunate and inhumane death in the cove, will have a slim chance of survival now. After the stress and exhaustion of the drive into the cove itself and having witnessed the majority of their podmates being slaughtered, the chances of survival for the remaining 20 striped dolphins is very little.

This is just one day out of the hunt season and there are simply no words that come to mind to describe the horror these innocent beings went through today. The cruelty and hatred shown by the killers to these beautiful dolphins is beyond anything that can be put into words. The fact is that this is the horror of Taiji and it is not about culture or tradition, it’s simply about profit and greed!

I can only imagine what it is like to witness these atrocities and have the utmost respect and gratitude for the Cove Guardians currently on the front lines in Taiji!

All photos from Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians