From Taiji to Tanks: The Inextricable Link Between Dolphin Captivity and Blood Spilled in the Cove
In 2003, Sea Shepherd was the first to release shocking pictures of a blood red cove, sparking global outcry against the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. Since 2010, Sea Shepherd's volunteer Cove Guardians were for years the only group to stand along the shores of Taiji each day throughout the six-month hunt season. The Cove Guardians document and live stream to the world each drive hunt, selection for the captive dolphin industry and the slaughters of dolphins and pilot whales.
During the hunts, entire pods of dolphins or pilot whales are driven to the shallow waters of Taiji’s infamous cove by a wall of sound created by the deafening engines of the pursuing ‘banger’ boats and by their crew striking long metal poles attached to the sides of the boats to create a painful noise under water. Once netted within the cove, the cetaceans which are not ruthlessly killed in front of their family members are sold to captive facilities in Japan or elsewhere around the world are transported in coffin-like crates sometimes for thousands of miles doomed to a life of imprisonment in small barren tanks.
The Taiji drive hunts could not be sustained solely by the sale of dolphin and pilot whale meat. It is clear the hunt is increasingly a result of the demand for live cetaceans to be sold in the lucrative captive trade. Just one captured and trained dolphin can be sold by the hunters for as much as $210,000 USD.
In May 2015, members of the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) voted to end their purchases of dolphins captured in Taiji to avoid JAZA’s suspension as a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) which prohibits its members from buying wild caught dolphins for display. This decision was an important step toward ending the capture and slaughter of dolphins in Taiji.
During Operation, Infinite Patience, Sea Shepherd UK's Cove Guardians will continue to document and live stream from the cove as they have done each year since 2010, but this year Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian campaign will use new innovative tactics to draw further attention to the hunts both within Japan and around the world.
I am a Cove Guardian