It has been a bloody time in Taiji these past few weeks. Before the killers took their holiday break, dolphins were dying almost every day. The killers returned to “work” after their break with a vengeance. The very first day, January 5, found them harassing a pod of over 200 Striped dolphins. At first, some of the hunting boats were messing with a small pod, but when they learned from their buddies that a much larger one was over the horizon, they left the small pod alone. When the large pod had been driven close enough to shore for us to see them, they were stretched out over a mile. Fortunately, it was just too much for the hunters to handle and most of the members of this pod escaped. Eventually 41 to 45 of them were killed.
A word about numbers: The dolphin killers of Taiji have gone to extraordinary lengths to hide what they do. It has indeed become more difficult for us to get exact counts. The town council has enacted criminal statutes aimed at keeping us away from the scene. The killers have erected numerous tarp walls to keep our cameras away from their deeds. They have altered their processes. The gutting barge has not been used this season because of all the blood. They now “plith” the dolphins at the cove, pulling them out of the water by their tails and driving steel rods into their spines. The holes are then pounded closed with wooden plugs. All of this effort is expended to avoid blood in the water. Dolphins small enough to be hauled inside skiffs are covered with tarps for the journey to the butcher house. Larger dolphins are dragged by their tails to the butcher. At the butcher house, the bodies are brought in through an elaborate tarp door designed to keep our cameras from seeing in.
However, we do still see. We are always there watching and waiting. The numbers we publish are derived from careful study of the photography. We are able to get fairly accurate counts of the live dolphins as they are being driven into the cove. We can count the number of dolphins who, in rare occasions, are released. The number of which we can be absolutely sure is the number taken into captivity. We watch and photograph the marine mammal trainers from the Taiji Whale Museum, the Dolphin Base (swim with dolphin program), and the Dolphin Resort Hotel who join with the killers in the cove. We watch and photograph these trainers as they joke and socialize with the dolphin killers. They know their hands are bloody and we know it too. There is no escaping it, as long as dolphins are being killed in Taiji, then any dolphin taken from the wild in Taiji is taken in blood.
The numbers that are not trustworthy are the larger numbers of murdered dolphins supplied by the killers themselves. Time and again we hear their numbers and know there is no way they can be accurate. Perhaps they inflate their numbers to avoid having to admit that there are fewer dolphins in the sea than before. Perhaps they inflate their numbers to hide the fact that we are saving lives here by our presence. Who knows, but these are men who bring shame to their country. It is not hard to accept them as liars as well.
The government of Japan is truly frustrated by Sea Shepherd. It is frustrated by our activities in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary where we successfully keep them from killing as many whales as they would like. It is frustrated by our continued presence in Taiji and especially by the bombardment of calls its embassies receive from around the world. The government and law enforcement officials in Wakayama Prefecture are frustrated at our continued presence in Taiji. They have to deploy large numbers of police officers and spend budget-busting funds in order to do so. They are even frustrated that their attempt to intimidate us by arresting Erwin backfired. There are now more Cove Guardians making their way to Taiji than there even would have been had he not been arrested. The townspeople of Taiji are frustrated by our presence and the presence of the police. The dolphin trainers are frustrated by our presence and go through great lengths to hide from us. The dolphin killers are frustrated at our presence, the extra work it causes them, and their dishonor our presence exposes.
There is a solution. Stop killing dolphins in Taiji and Sea Shepherd will go away. You want your town back? All you have to do is quit killing dolphins! If the killing stops, Sea Shepherd will leave. It is that simple. Keep killing though, and Sea Shepherd will remain. We are looking at extending the campaign to a year round presence. Just think what that will cost the government in additional police response. Just think of the disharmony our year round presence will bring.
The efforts to hide from us are not as successful as the killers and trainers would like. In the video from December 22, 2011, watch as this not quite dead dolphin attempts to extend its life. In the video from January 6, 2012, watch as heads, blood, and gore from the Striped dolphins killed the day before are dumped into a bin. View the January 6 photos of the “flying” dolphin at the Dolphin Resort Hotel and view the January 8, 2012, photo of the bloody water in the cove.
As of January 8, 2012: 371 to 435 dolphins have been killed in Taiji this season. Another 45 have been taken captive for the entertainment industry. On this date last season (January 8, 2011), 549 to 554 had been killed and 138 had been taken captive.
Want to help? Call or write to the Japanese embassy or consulate near you and make a donation to support our efforts. Want to join us? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be here until the killing stops.
Scott West Cove Guardian Campaign Coordinator Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
December 11th, 2011 A dolphin's last breath at Taiji, Japan
A dying dolphin struggles for a last breath as he is brought to slaughter in Taiji, Japan (:57)
January 6, 2012 Dolphin heads, blood, and gore being dumped into a container
Dolphin heads, blood, and gore are being dumped into a container prior to shipment to a rendering facility. (1:15)