#Taiji Tuesday – Short-Finned Pilot Whale

Short-Finned Pilot Whale:


There are currently two recognized species of pilot whale, the short-finned and long-finned. In Japan, there are two morphologically and geographically distinct populations of short-finned pilot whales, one northern and one southern. It is believed that they are in fact separate subspecies however further examination is required.

Pilot whales are large, robust animals with a bulbous head and no discernible beak. The flippers are long with a pointed tip, though in the short-finned form they are more curved, slightly shorter and the ‘elbow’ is less defined than in the long-finned form. The dorsal fin is set forward on the body and varies in shape depending on age and sex. The tail flukes also have sharply pointed tips plus a distinct notch in the middle and concave edges. The short-finned pilot whale is jet black or dark grey with a grey or white ‘saddle-patch’ over its back behind the dorsal fin. It has a grey or almost white anchor shaped patch on its chest and a grey or white stripe which goes diagonally upwards behind each eye. Male short-finned pilot whales are on average 5.5m in length & weighing up to 3,000kg, whereas female short-finned pilot whales on average are 4.3m in length & weighing up to 1,500 kg. Males are thought to live to be about 45 years of age whilst females are thought to survive into their 60’s.


Short-finned pilot whales are highly sociable and are rarely seen alone. They are found in groups of between 15-50 animals, though some pods are as large as 60 individuals. Super-pods of hundreds of individuals are not uncommon and may swim abreast in a line several miles across with adults occasionally porpoising when swimming fast. They are sometimes seen logging and will allow boats to get quite close. They rarely breach, but may be seen lobtailing, spyhopping and surfing in the wake of large waves. Short-finned pilot whales have a preference for water about 1000m deep and are often found on continental slopes where their main prey item, squid is abundant.  The typical diet of the short-finned pilot whale appears to consist of squid and fish, as well as other cephalopds, such as octopuses. However the short-finned pilot whales have been reported to harass sperm whales and dolphins, so marine mammals may also be included in their diet. This species usually feeds at night, making deep dives in search of prey.


Their highly social nature and strong familial bonds could explain why this species is amongst those cetaceans that most frequently mass-strand. The short-finned pilot whale live in a matri-lineal or female based society and females have been known to care for a calf that is not their own. After weaning, young male short-finned pilot whales may move to a new group, whereas the females tend to stay in the pod to which they were born. The name “pilot whale” comes from an early idea that these pods are piloted by a leader, typically known as the matriarch.


The worldwide population of short-finned pilot whales is unknown and although they are not thought to be threatened on a global scale, several populations are hunted. Targeted in Japanese drive fisheries, in the Faroe Islands The Grind,  and other hunts elsewhere. The short-finned pilot whale is also favoured as a display species in aquariums around the world. Other threats to the species include entanglement in fishing nets and noise pollution. The IUCN lists the species as Data Deficient.

Video: Short-finned Pilot Whales Underwater

In Taiji: 2017/2018 Taiji Drive hunt quota allows for 101 Short-Finned Pilot Whales

The first drive hunt in Taiji this season was a nursery pod (mainly mothers and their calves) of short-finned pilot whales on September 3, 2017.

In some instances a drive can last for almost an entire day and for hour after hour the dolphins are relentlessly chased. In those long hours of pursuit, while the dolphins are driven towards the cove, the brutal reality of the hunts is driven home – No matter the species, the hunts are torture for dolphins. Kept in a continuous state of “fight or flight,” vast amounts of energy are mobilized as the pod attempts to evade the hunters.

And for seven hours on September 3, 2017 the first pod of pilot whales this season, fought for their lives, struggling against the deafening sounds of boat engines, of poles being banged (designed to confuse the dolphins’ sensitive navigation systems) and the sheer willpower of the hunters themselves. By early afternoon, it became clear the dolphins were losing the battle. Their swimming became noticeably slower, and several times the pod refused or were unable to move. However with the boats so close to the pod, they had no choice but to keep moving, ultimately swimming right into the cove.

Boats and skiffs quickly left the cove, leaving the pod alone for the rest of the day and night. Many juveniles were seen in the pod, huddled close to their mothers. Little heads bobbed up and down while the adults continued to circle the tightly-knit group. The scene was horrifying, for, unlike the dolphins who are unaware of their fate, we have a good idea of the atrocities that will unfold tomorrow.


On the second day, 10 pilot whales were slaughtered and 3 juveniles were taken for captivity. The remaining pilot whales were kept for a second night. Exhausted and terrified, missing 13 pod members. Their fate would be determined the following morning. On Day 3, after slaughtering 10 more today (not including 1 that was floating in the bay all day) the hunters rushed out to attempt another drive leaving the remaining juveniles in the cove. Eventually they released the young Pilot whales and all boats returned empty handed.

A total of 21 dead Pilot whales and 3 taken for captivity, over the course of 3 days. These images below are proof of the cruel nature of the captivity industry. Trainers who claim to love and care for these animals remain under the tarps while the hunters slaughter those the trainers do not want. We can all put a stop to this by helping everyone connect dolphin shows with these horrifying slaughters.

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2017/2018 Taiji Drive Hunt Quota

Only 3 weeks until 2017/2018 Taiji Drive Hunt & Slaughter resumes again. 

2017/2018 Drive Hunt Quota by species:

2017/2018 quota for the drive fishery in Taiji has been released.  This quota allows for a take of 1,940 animals from nine species and has added two species to the list – rough-toothed dolphins & melon-headed whales.

In addition to drive hunt, rough tooths and melon headed have been added to the hand harpoon quota in two prefectures – Wakayama and Okinawa. In Wakayama, 30 melon-headed whales can be taken, while in Okinawa, 13 rough-tooths and 60 melon-headed are allowed via this method. 

Including both hand-harpoon and drive hunting, a total of 33 rough-tooths and 190 melon-headed whales have been added to the overall small cetacean quota in Japan.

source: http://ika-net.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/2017/08/post-f1fb.html

Operation Sleppid Grindini #OpGrindini

Entire pods of pilot whales and dolphins are brutally and senselessly slaughtered in the Faroe Islands. The slaughter is better known by the traditional Faroese term, grindadráp, or simply as the grind. Similar to the infamous Taiji Dolphin Drive Hunt, the grind is also a blood red stain on these otherwise pristine waters.

The local community heads out in small boats loaded with stones, hooks, ropes, and knives. Once they’ve approached the pod, the boats form a small half-circle behind the dolphins. Small rocks attached to lines are thrown into the water to create a wall of bubbles to reflect the sonar of the pilot whale. The cetaceans interpret the bubbles as a cliff wall that they must steer away from – because of this, the small boats are able to herd the cetaceans towards a low-lying shore. As the pod approaches land, the boats continue to harass and frighten the mammals until they’re washed up on the shore. Once beached, a knife is used to cut through the veins and arteries that supply blood to the pilot whales head. Some pilot whales suffer for as much as 30 seconds while others can take up to four minutes to die.

On July 23, approximately 200 hundred pilot whales were slaughtered on the killing beaches of the Danish Faroe Islands. These slaughters took place on two separate beaches in the Faroe Islands, resulting in one of the bloodiest days this year. Three Sea Shepherd crewmembers from South Africa, Belgium and Luxembourg have been arrested and another two, from Italy and France, have been detained for standing in defense of the whales that were targeted for slaughter. These people are volunteers who are opposing this atrocity by standing on the shores of the Faroe Islands armed with only a camera.






Faroese whalers standing in a sea of red blood.

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Land Team Leader Rosie Kunneke is held down with her face into the ground by three Faroese police.

In 2011 not a single whale was slaughtered while Sea Shepherd patrolled the waters of the Faroes. In 2013, when Sea Shepherd was not present, more than 1,300 whales were slain. Last year in 2014, when Sea Shepherd returned, the kill was 33. What has changed so far in 2015 and why are so many whales dying this summer?

From Sea Shepherd Founder Paul Watson – “The answer is the Royal Danish Navy. Despite the fact that killing whales is illegal under European Union regulations, the government of Denmark has thrown their weight behind the killers. Sea Shepherd, as a non-governmental organization that practices non-violent intervention, is at a complete disadvantage against two Danish warships, their helicopters and their small flotilla of commandos in fast small boats plus the boats and officers belonging to the Faroese police. Denmark and the Danish people have sanctioned this cruelty and this despicable slaughter, and no matter how much they claim this is out of their hands, that it is a Faroese responsibility, the fact remains that between those who attempt to save the lives of the pilot whales and dolphins and the blood being spilled on the beach sits the Knut Rasmussen and the frigate Triton, both symbols of Danish power, Danish complicity and Danish involvement.”

Warning – the following video does contain graphic images.

For more information please visit Operation Sleppid Grindini



Tragedy, Horror & the Reality of the Drive Hunt & Slaughter in Taiji

After a pod of pilot whales spent a total of 2 days netted off in the killing cove with no access to food or water, the killers mercilessly slaughtered 16 of them. Once the killers arrived in the cove the repeatedly ran over the pod with skiffs and tethered members of the pod to the side of the cove as they awaited their fate of slaughter. Is this Taiji’s version of hunting and fishing? Starving cetaceans for 2 days and then tethering them to the cove to await their fate … this is not hunting … this is the reality of what happens between September and March of each year in Taiji.

Below are photos courtesy of the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians … who stood at the cove and witnessed this intolerable cruelty to a pod of innocent pilot whales.

This matriarch of the pilot whale pod, struggled and thrashed for 30 minutes while tethered to the rocks of the cove. Killers eventually attempt to drag the female under the tarps for slaughter.



The entire pod surrounded the matriarch as she was thrashing. The killers were unable to control the pod as they defended the matriarch of the pod.


Two pilot whales cling together as they await slaughter.


Another pilot whale, becomes entangled in the nets.


The youngest of this pod, a baby pilot whale, was badly injured throughout this process.


Pilot whale bodies being dragged into the Taiji Butcher house.


After the killing in the cove was completed the killers drove the remaining pod members back out to sea, however as reported by the Coe Guardians, 1 pod member did not fair well and its dead body was dragged back out to sea.  While it may seem as though the killers showed some mercy in not slaughtering the entire pod, do not be mistaken … in the end it is all about profit and greed. The killers are given a quota for each species and with that the smaller and younger pilot whales are not worthy of fulfilling this quota. The bigger the pilot whale, the more meat and the more money it sells for … its as simple as that.  Unfortunately for the remaining pod members, driven back out to sea, survival is very slim. After 2 days without food and the traumatizing experience of witnessing your family slaughtered will take its toll on these innocent cetaceans.

Please take the time to follow the Cove Guardians on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates.

Also check out Call of the Cove … they have some great information on how to get involved and what you can do to help.

For the dolphins and pilot whales of Taiji!

Inhumane killing method of Taiji #tweet4taiji

Below is a photo from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Cove Guardians, taken today in Taiji. Blood tinged waters are visible now as entire pod of 25-30 pilot whales are under the tarps in the killing cove. Whales are still alive and conscious being dragged to the butcher house. How can the mayor of Taiji claim that this is a humane killing method?


The killing tools of the Taiji fisherman. A sharp metal rod that is driven into the spine of a dolphin or whale. A plug is then inserted into the hole in an attempt to hide the blood. This is far from a humane way of killing. This process will cause paralysis but not kill and leaves a dolphin or whale still alive while being towed to the Taiji butcher house. Most of the dolphins or whales will drown while being dragged to the butcher house and those that do not are mercilessly slaughtered on arrival.


RIP Pilot Whales



The Cove Runs Red: First Slaughter of the Season #tweet4taiji

Yesterday morning before sunrise the dolphin killers of Taiji were already in the water herding a family of Pilot Whales toward the shore of the killing cove for slaughter.  In the end a total of 18 Pilot Whales were slaughtered. These were the largest adult whales, since the juveniles and babies are not large enough and not worthy of the quota. After several hours of witnessing in horror and lingering in the bloody water of the Cove next to their murdered family members these juveniles were driven back out to sea. Being left to fend for themselves, the likelihood of these young Pilot Whales surviving is slim.


The pod begins to panic as their family members are pushed towards the shore of the killing cove.


The monarch female pilot whale (largest of the pod) struggled for over an hour under the tarps, as other juvenile whales continued to linger at her side.


The killers tie ropes around the whales flukes to drag the to the shore of the killing cove.


The trauma of the slaughter was simply too much for this Pilot Whale to bear as it continued to barely swim on its back after witnessing the slaughter of it’s family.


Juvenile lingers beside it’s dying mother in the killing cove.


Blood begins to seep out of the killing cove as the remaining pod is forced to swim in the bloody water of their family members.


The remaining pod of juveniles and babies were left to fend for themselves and driven back out to sea


As the killing and kidnapping season has only begun in Taiji, it is vital to note the potential number of lives that could be taken from the waters off of the coast of Taiji by both killers and trainers alike. The 2013-2014 season quota is as follows:

  • 134 Pacific white-sided dolphins
  • 450 Striped dolphins
  • 557 Bottlenose dolphins
  • 400 Pantropical spotted dolphins
  • 265 Risso dolphins
  • 137 Short-Finned pilot whales
  • 70 False Killer whales.

Please follow the SSCS Cove Guardians for the daily activities in Taiji:

Twitter: @CoveGuardians

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SeaShepherdCoveGuardiansOfficialPage

Live Stream: http://livestream.seashepherd.org

All photos courtesy of the Cove Guardians,

For the dolphins and whales of Taiji!

Sea World Under Scrutiny Again #endcaptivity

With the recent release of the highly anticipated documentary, Blackfish, which provides a critical look at the family orientated Sea World’s treatment of whales,  two other videos released on youtube provide further insight into Sea World’s treatment of the dolphins and whales.

Distressed Pilot Whale at Sea World: Sea World find itself under fire after trainers failed to help a distress pilot whale stuck on a slideout ledge for approximately 25 minutes. The video was caught on camera by an audience member, who has stated that his views of Sea World have been changed forever.

Peta released this statement after the release of the video: “Audiences should be horrified by every video taken inside SeaWorld,” PETA wrote in an emailed statement Monday. Whether they show a pilot whale stranded on a concrete ledge in front of a shocked crowd, an orca killing his trainer, or intelligent, sensitive whales forced to swim day in and day out in tiny circles for a reward of dead fish, these videos are a potent reminder that SeaWorld keeps marine mammals trapped in concrete tanks that bear no resemblance to their habitat in the wild, with no room in which to swim, no family groups, and no stimulation.”

Take a look at the video below and draw your own conclusions on the treatment of whales and dolphins at Sea World.

Dolphin Escapes Tank at Sea World: During a public feeding of the dolphins at Sea World, one dolphin jumped out of the tank and landed on the concrete. “I do not have children, but this is not something I would want them to see on a family vacation.” – David Kirby (deathatseaworld.com) Not only is a situation like this extrememly dangerous for the dolphin itself, as you can see in the video from the blood on the concrete, it is also an extremely dangerous situation for spectators. If a child or adult was nearby and had been injured when the dolphin jumped out of the tank, then I can assure you there would be a media storm covering this story.

If you are contmeplating or even planning a trip to Sea World in the near or distant to future, then consider this: Sea World is not a place for education on dolphins and whales. The daily shows at dolphin & whale stadium and Shamu stadium are simply that a show, designed to entertain and have absoltely no educational benefit. The dolphins and whales of Sea World and conditioned to perform tricks for your entertainment receiving dead fish as their reward and in no resemble the natural habits of a dolphin or whale in the wild.

“There is as much educational benefit in studying dolphins in captivity as there would be in studying human beings by only observing prisoners in solitary confinement.”. Jacques Cousteau