Reflections of a Cove Guardian – What has changed in 4 years?

 

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4 years ago today I arrived in Taiji, Japan, to start my journey as a Cove Guardian. What has changed in the 4 years since I’ve been there? The drive hunt still continues – dolphins are still slaughtered and taken for captivity. The Cove Guardian campaign has ended, largely due to the fact that Japan does not allow veteran volunteers with Sea Shepherd to enter the country. Many volunteers have attempted to go back, only to be held in immigration, questioned and then deported, never to return. Simply witnessing and documenting the slaughter of dolphins in Japan is now a crime and classified as terrorism. Only Dolphin Project remains on the ground in Taiji to document the daily atrocities that occur in the little town of horrors.

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Rarely does a day go by without some thought of my time in Taiji. Over the course of my two weeks on the ground, I would witness several different slaughters (bottlenose, striped & risso dolphins) and live captures (bottlenose & pacific white sided dolphins). I remember each of these vividly, as if it just happened yesterday & it’s not something you forget easily. 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.

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In the last year I have seen multiple people on my Facebook/Instagram feed posting photos of them and/or their children swimming with dolphins.  Thanks to Instagram for taking a step in the right direction and for attempting to protect wildlife – see photo below – if you search for #swimwithdolphins an alert pops up stating that you are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with harmful behaviour to animals or the environment.

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 It’s time for people to wake up and realize that yes swimming with dolphins is a harmful behaviour to that dolphin. “The dolphin smile is nature’s greatest deception, it creates the illusion that they’re always happy” Ric O’Barry.

No dolphin has ever volunteered for a life of captivity! The dolphins at swim with dolphin programs, Sea World, Marineland Canada, etc., are performing tricks for food (dead medicated fish), they are taking your child for a ride, ‘dancing’ with them, jumping through hoops all in order to be fed! These dolphins are either stolen from their family/pod or they were born into a life of captivity. Either way, once in captivity, these dolphins are sentenced to a life of imprisonment in a tiny tank or sea pens for one reason only – your entertainment! This is where the problem begins, and if people would stop purchasing tickets to swim with dolphin programs or Sea world and thus supporting them, then the demand for live dolphins will go down and then one day perhaps we can hope for an end to the Dolphin Drive Hunt & Slaughter in Taiji.

Please consider teaching your children kindness to animals and wildlife. Become informed and watch the following documentaries:

  • The Cove, Minds in the Water
  • Blackfish
  • Revolution & Sharkwater (by the late Rob Stewart)
  • Racing Extinction

 

 

#TaijiTuesday – Another Drive Hunt & Slaughter Season About to Begin

 

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Just a week away, on September 1, 2017 another season of the Taiji Dolphin Drive Hunt & Slaughter will begin. Each year, from September until March, pods of dolphins make their way across Hatagiri Bay which is located near the town of Taiji in Wakayama Prefecture in Japan. While this is a scenic and even serene area at times, death haunts the infamous Cove which is located directly adjacent to Taiji’s Whale Museum.

Every year during the annual government sanctioned dolphin & whale hunt, thousands of dolphins are brutally and inhumanely slaughtered. Below is the 2017/2018 Drive Hunt Quote – Taiji Fisherman’s Union is allowed to take 1,940 dolphins from nine different species over the course of six months. Over the coming weeks Voice for the Blue will do a #TaijiTuesday blog post and introduce you the nine species of Taiji Drive Hunt Quote.

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Not all dolphins driven into the cove are slaughtered. Taiji is known as “ground zero” for international trade in live dolphins. There is big money in the captive dolphin entertainment industry and there is a direct link between the captive dolphin entertainment industry and the bloody waters of the infamous Cove in Taiji. It is the dolphin entertainment industry that fuels the drive hunt and the killing of dolphins for meat unfortunately follows in its wake.

While in Taiji in December 2013, I witnessed numerous slaughters of Risso’s Dolphins, a slaughter of Striped Dolphins, one slaughter/live capture of Bottlenose Dolphins, and one live capture of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins. While each slaughter was different to experience they were in a sense all the same: The sound of dolphin taking its last breath, the sound of the Taiji killers yelling, the sound of a dolphin thrashing furiously in an attempt to escape death, then the eerie silence that tells you the slaughter is done and yet another pod of dolphins has lost its life at the hand of the Taiji fisherman. The sounds of slaughter are something that remain with you long after you left Taiji.

The Cove

Sunrise at the Cove – shortly before the slaughter of a pod of striped dolphins

Unfortunately many of us who stood witness to and documented the drive hunt and slaughter on the ground in Taiji are unable to return. Many activists have been held for questioning in immigration, then denied entry to Japan and deported back to our home countries. Japan has recently decided that simply witnessing and documenting the slaughter of dolphins is now a crime and classified as terrorism.

Being on the ground in Taiji was one of the hardest, but by far one of my proudest moments. I may not be able to return to Taiji but I will ensure that I educate as many as people as possible on the Drive Hunt & Slaughter, the direct relationship it has to the dolphin entertainment industry and why people should not participate in swim with dolphin programs or attend marine parks, such as Sea World & Marinleand Canada.

For the dolphins, Mel

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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

Bloody Week in Taiji #tweet4taiji

After 29 days of a Blue Cove, the cove runs red again. The Taiji fisherman managed to wipe out two separate pods of Risso Dolphins this week in two consecutive days.

On November 8 – After a long fight of six hours, a family of 9 Risso dolphins lost their battle to the killers of Taiji, Japan. Once trapped within the confines of the cove, the hypocritical trainers as always joined the killers, who together selected 4 pod members for captivity. The lone baby of the pod was trapped within nets on the killing shore, and along with those who were selected for captivity, watched and listened as their remaining pod members were slaughtered in front of them. After the killing concluded, the baby was split from it’s lifeless family members and dumped alone out to sea where it will not survive.

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This pod becomes frantic and panics as the killers push them towards the shore of the killing cove.

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Mother and baby spend their last moments together before slaughter

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After witnessing its mother murdered, the killers tried to hide this live baby dolphin under nets as they prepared to dump back out to sea to fend for itself.

November 9 was the second consecutive day of dolphin slaughter in Taiji as the killers Taiji ripped an entire family of 11 juvenile and adult Risso dolphins from their home in the ocean. Once the pod was entrapped within the always deadly confines of the cove, killers and trainers once again worked together as they search the pod to search for their next big paycheck. None of these Rissos, however, were deemed suitable for captivity and as a result the entire pod was slaughtered mercilessly on the killing shore. Once the slaughter was complete a skiff filled with trainers emerged from under the tarps followed by a skiff dragging dead bodies.

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Two juvenile Risso dolphins were among this pod.

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As panic begins, several dolphins tried to escape, but only to become entangled within the net.

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Attempting to hide the transfer of dead Risso dolphins.

After the atrocities in Taiji this week, once again Call of The Cove has provided all of us with a way to help by reaching out to the media. Please visit their Media Page for more information on how you can help the dolphins of Taiji. They have put together a list of 400 twitter handles for the media worldwide and provided this Letter to Journalists  that you can send to journalists around the world asking them to consider covering the ongoing and needless slaughter of dolphins and whales in Taiji.

Also remember to follow the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians in Operation Infinite Patience on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates on the current events happening in Taiji.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

For the dolphins!

 

 

 

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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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!