Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Dolphins of Taiji

 Taiji is a town off the coast of southern Japan. The little fishing town is home to about 3,500 people and is known as the birth place of whaling in Japan. For generations the men of Taiji have hunted whales and dolphins, both in the waters of Japan and in the Southern Ocean off Antarctica. The village is very proud of their heritage. To these men, fewer then 30, they are simply carrying on a tradition that has been passed down for hundreds of years. To the people of Taiji dolphins and whales are just fish. They see nothing wrong with killing, consuming and selling them. To them what they are doing is no different then other countries killing and consuming Cows, Pigs, or Chickens. Japans population is massive and the country is not suitable for farming like other countries. They feel turning to the ocean is their only choice. Many Japanese residents believe that the outside world is harshly judging them without understanding their culture, their over all needs, and simply their way of life.

 Every year Japan's Fisheries Agency issues the Hunters of Taiji a permit to kill at least 2,000 dolphins. Dolphins migrate every year off the coast of Taiji. From September 1st through March the hunters (NOTE~ they call themselves fishermen, but dolphins and small whales are not fish, so we will not call them fishermen.), set out to kill these dolphins and also catch dolphins to be sold in the live dolphin trade.  This activity is known as "Dolphin Drives".

 As the sun raises in Taiji, the hunters board boats called Banger Boats and set off to find their catch. Banger Boats have a metal pole that extends from the boats deck into the water. The hunters bang on this pole to drive the dolphins. Once a pod is found the group of banger boats work together in formation to drive the dolphins back into the Cove of Taiji. By Banging on the poles the hunters are able to scare the dolphins and get them to go the direction they want them to. Though disoriented, the dolphins fight for hours to get away. There are times when their persistence and hard work pay off, and the dolphins escape. But this is not always the case.
                                          Driving a pod of Dolphins into the Cove of Japan

  Lets take a moment to look at what dolphins and small whales these hunters are targeting. To many, including us, the species that is being hunted doesn't matter. But we will take a look, because they have earned the respect. Here is a list of some of the dolphins and small whales the Taiji Hunters target.

                                          The Bottle nosed Dolphin

                                           The Pacific White-Sided Dolphin 
                                          The Risso's Dolphin

                                          The spotted Dolphin

                                          The Striped Dolphin

                                          The False Killer Whale

                                          The Short Finned Pilot Whale

   Once the hunters have pushed the dolphins into the cove they drop nets to trap them in. At this point the dolphins are not only terrified but exhausted. They are confined into a small swallow area, in which many get cut, scratched, or bruised up, just from trying to swim around.

video from KahakaiGirl showing dolphins trapped in the cove

The Hunters then push the dolphins into a smaller more private cove, known as the "Killing Cove".By its name, one does not need a huge imagination to know what happens there. At this point (depending on the type of dolphin that is caught) the "Trainers" are called in. These people work for Dolphin Base, Dolphin Resort Hotel, and the Taiji Whale Museum. It is their job to come in and pick the best dolphins out of the pod to be sold in the live dolphin trade. They get into the water and inspect the animals, and decide if any are good enough to sell. When they find an animal they like, multiple trainers jump on the animal and hold it down. They get it into a net or sling attached to a skiff (sometimes the animal goes right into a boat for its ride) and its moved to a sea pen in the harbor, or directly to the Taiji Whale Museum. Once the trainers are done picking their favorites, they leave with their animals, and the rest of the pod is killed (Note~ there has been times when some of the pod has been released).
                                          Trainers at work

    Over the years there has been a few different recorded methods of how the hunters kill the dolphins. Footage of animals being gutted alive, speared to death, and having a metal rod drove into there backs severing the spinal cord. The Japanese Government claims that they are dedicated to ensure these animals are slaughtered in the most humane way they can, with as little pain, stress, and suffering as possible. They see these animals as blessings, so the utmost respect is given to them. Once the animals are dead, their bodies are taken to the gutting barge and then to the butcher house, which is located in the harbor, to be packaged up for consumption.

                                           Whale Ceremony in Taiji, Japan

                                           Dolphins being speared

                                         Collecting the dead dolphins

                                                          Dolphins being pulled from the gutting barge, heading for the butcher

   It seems pretty cut and dry. And if in fact these animals were fish, I am sure many people would not think much about it. But these are not fish! These are animals that many, including top researchers, would argue are just as intelligent, if not more so, then the human race. There is no denying dolphins are very intelligent. Study after study shows us this. From the fact that they can recognize themselves in a mirror to the fact that they can see right through us like an ultra sound. Did you know that dolphins never fully sleep? They would drown if they did. Instead half of their brains sleep at a time, so they are aware at all times. Yet, they have plenty of energy to swim many miles and day. Jumping through the water and playing along the way. Sadly dolphins also have some not so pleasant human traits. They suffer, feel pain, get depressed, morn the loss of loved ones, and have even been known to commit suicide.

CNN report on dolphins being self aware

Bubble play...

Dolphins and whales have family bonds that rival human bonds. A pod can have many generations in it. Mothers nurse their young for two years, before the baby starts sampling sold foods. Most dolphins stay with their parents for life. A pod can range in size from just a few animals to hundreds, even thousands. A pod can also have different species of dolphins in it. It is not uncommon to see large pods made up of multiple species of dolphins.

Large Dolphin Pod

Very large pod

 With these things in mind, lets revisit the dolphin drive again....

  It is true that the residents of Taiji have been hunting dolphins and whales for hundreds of years. No one is arguing this point. But a lot has changed over the years. In fact, so much has changed that its imposable for many people to agree that these dolphin drives are part of Taiji's heritage.

 Generations ago the hunters were not killing enough dolphins to provide food to be sold all over the nation. They simple killed what their village needed to survive. Now days, studies show that that most Japanese citizens do not, nor would not, eat dolphin meat. So why does Japan kill over 20,000 dolphins a year? If the majority of the population doesn't eat it, where does this meat go? Well the sad truth is Japanese people are eating dolphin meat, they just don't know it. Some of the meat is used to make pet food, some is packaged and sold as dolphin meat in markets, but a good portion of it is packaged and mislabeled as other type of meat and sold in the markets to unsuspecting consumers.

Repeat of the video from my Mercury Poisoning post

 The question has to be asked, How do we know that Japan is not exporting dolphin meat to unsuspecting countries as well?  I know that this could be considered a huge accusation, and I'm not saying they do. But the fact there is Scientific proof that dolphin meat was falsely labeled and was sold in markets in Japan. How do we know its just in Japan?

Shocking Video by Scott Baker

 Another reason why many refuse to except dolphin drives as part of Taiji's heritage is the fact they capture and sell dolphins in the Live dolphin trade. This did not happen generations ago! Face it, this is Taiji's bread and butter! This IS why Taiji is doing dolphin drives. It has nothing to do with food, or heritage, but everything to do with the $100,000 to $300,000 USD they get per dolphin sold. If there was no live dolphin trade, these dolphins of Taiji would not be killed. Dolphin meat is undesirable, they have to mislabel it to even sell it. These hunters are there for the live dolphin, the ones they kill are just a by-product.

Why do they hide it? People around the world are proud of family tradition and celebrate their heritage. So if these dolphin hunts are part of Taiji's heritage and a tradition that they themselves are not ashamed of, then why hide it? They have used tarps, boats and just about anything they can find to block the view of what they are doing. Why? Why have they become so angry that the world has seen what they are doing? Why has Ric O'Barry's life been threatened? Why has he been told that if he steps back in Taiji his safety is not guaranteed? So he filmed a documentary of what was going on. So while filming, they set up hidden camera's in areas they "were not to go in". But what does it matter? The film just showed the world Taiji's culture. Of course, in doing that, they also uncovered the truth of the mislabeled meat and the abuse and cruelty these dolphins endure. But hey, its your heritage, your proud of it...Why hide?

Video belongs to delfinusdelphis

                                          Taken from

                                                        No Dolphins in the cove...Tarps open
                                                       Dolphins in the cove and blood in the water...tarps closed!

                        And they could use a course on using Tarps, because most the time...they are not hiding anything!
  This year many organizations including Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Save Japan Dolphins has vowed to have people on the ground, in Taiji, everyday of the season. The goal is to abide by Japan Laws, but be there to document everything the hunters do in the cove. Volunteers from multiple countries around the world have answered this call. Equipped with still and video cameras the Cove Guardians take their places everyday ready to catch the days events.  Live updates Via Facebook and Twitter has kept activist around the world in the know. This has allowed those who can't be in Taiji the opportunity to to still be involved. As soon as the boats leave the harbor, thousands of people around the world take action by calling, faxing, and emailing Embassies, the Fishing Union, and many other government offices, requesting to release of any dolphins caught. They have also contacted international media outlets and celebrities who might be able to help in some form or another.

  Since the Cove Guardians have arrived in Taiji the footage they have managed to catch is mind blowing. Cruelty at its worst! Baby dolphins being separated from their mothers, left to die. Dolphins being punched, hit, and held underwater to be subdued. Live dolphins being tied be their tails and pulled backwards by skiffs, not being able to breath, fighting for every breath. The list of abuse goes on and on. These hunters, and so called "trainers" do not care about the age of the dolphins they kill or take into captivity. We have been shown baby dolphins being both taken and killed. Little lifeless bodies thrown around the gutting barge. Very young babies sent to die in a glass and concrete tank, because they can't survive with out there mothers. The footage is haunting. So many horrific acts have been captured. Dolphins trapped in nets, fighting to breath. Dead dolphins being cut from nets, because they lost the fight. Dolphins floating in the water dead due to being held underwater to long while being inspected, and drowned. A dolphin being killed by having a metal rod jabbed into its back, which is supposed to sever its spine, and then having a wooden nail hammered into the whole to stop the bleeding. The poor dolphin thrashed around for about 15 minutes before it died.  AND this is their idea of humane!

Video taken from BigGunnsmissions, Dolphin being pulled by their tails alive and dolphin being cut out of net dead.

video taken from RosieKunneke, more dolphin tied up by the tail, fighting to breath

Raw footage from RosieKunneke showing trainers elbowing and hitting dolphins will selecting them.

According to Scott West, who has been in Taiji since September as the official SSCS representative, roughly 423 dolphins have been slaughtered and another 134 dolphins have been taken captive, this year (as of Dec. 7th.) With 3 months to go in the season, there will more blood, more cruelty, and more heartache. How much longer will these atrocities go on? When will the hunters of Taiji see that these barbaric actions do not belong in today's world. When will people who participate in swim with me programs or attend dolphin and whale shows around the world realize they are the root of the problem? Dolphins have been known to save human lives all around the world. When will the world decided to stand up and save them?

Video from Kahakaigirl

taken from FreeDolphins2010 A wonderful video made by a couple from Japan who are helping in getting awareness out to stop the murdering of dolphins.

For more info on the Cove Guardians, daily reports from Taiji, and how you yourself can become a CG.
Visit Here.

So much more to come on this subject....


  1. Splendid! Simply splendid! I love it. It's like a virtual encyclopedia. I can't seem to even finish my links page. hehe! I think everyone should bookmark your blog as a reference tool. There is so much here to share. Keep up the great work!

    “The systematic torture of sentient beings, whatever the pretext and in whatever form, cannot achieve anything more than it already has: to show us what is the lowest point of debasement man can reach . . . if that’s what we want to know.” – Joaquin Phoenix | quote from EARTHLINGS

  2. Wow what an amazing blog! Ties all the footage together and tells the whole awful truth of what is happening in Taiji.

  3. This story could not have been told better
    Definitely bookmarked and will share this with all of Misty's fans

  4. de tres belle video qui remplissent mon coeur de joie ,et d'autres video qui remplissent mon coeur de haine thank you very mutch snif snif snif snif y love you oh yessss

  5. Thankyou, you have documented everything in one article.

    God Bless the dolphins.