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article imageOp-Ed: Brutal drive at Taiji Cove sees striped dolphins dragged to beach

By Elizabeth Batt     Dec 11, 2012 in Environment
Taiji - An horrific scene played out in Taiji, Japan last night as 55-65 striped dolphins were driven into the Cove and slaughtered. Stressed dolphins threw themselves onto rocks and had to be physically dragged to their slaughter. Warning: Graphic images.
Initially said Cove Guardians with Sea Shepherd, there were more than 200 dolphins in the pod that was driven towards the Cove yesterday -- far too many for the Taiji drive boats to handle. And although the majority of the pod did eventually manage to escape, for a significant number of unlucky marine mammals, the trauma was just beginning.
All dolphin drives are awful to watch but a striped dolphin drive is particularly gruesome. This species of dolphin live in the open ocean and rarely encounter land. So when they are forced toward coastal waters, they panic in the most horrifying manner imaginable.
Last night's drive was one of the most brutal dolphin hunts documented by Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians so far this season. The entire event was streamed live by Cove Guardian Nicole McLachlan. The footage now archived at, was difficult to watch.
"Tired and terrified," said Cove Guardians on their Facebook page, "the dolphins frantically threw themselves up onto the surrounding rocks as their family members looked on. Dolphins," they added, "were dragged kicking and screaming into the cove as the killers could not control the absolute havoc."
SSCS Cove Guardians:  A diver trying to drag a dying dolphin off the rocks as it attempted to escape...
SSCS Cove Guardians: "A diver trying to drag a dying dolphin off the rocks as it attempted to escape."
Courtesy SSCS Cove Guardians
For what felt like forever, the dolphins fought for their lives, slapping and churning the waters of the cove:
A bloodied dolphin tries anything to escape and crashes into a rock wall.
A bloodied dolphin tries anything to escape and crashes into a rock wall.
Courtesy SSCS Cove Guardians
Amid the chaos, a solitary juvenile striped dolphin was driven right onto the rocks by a skiff:
Eventually, the waters of the Cove were infused with the blood of striped dolphins.
Courtesy SSCS Cove Guardians
Out of the 55-65 dolphins captured in the Cove last night, there was just one survivor. It was only after he had seen his family slaughtered and was forced to swim in their blood, that he was taken for a life of captivity in an aquarium somewhere. Once trained, he will be sold to the highest bidder, but only if he survives.
Striped dolphins are one of the hardest species to keep alive in captivity, but this isn't a problem in Taiji, there is always another replacement to be found.
According to, since the dolphin drive season began on Sep. 1, almost 600 dolphins have been driven into Taiji's Cove. More than half of that number (337) have been slaughtered, another 44 were held for captivity. The season is still not quite half way through and ends March 31.
If like me you believe that this type of killing has no place in the 21st century, then there is something you can do about it. Captivity fuels this slaughter, not meat. Trained dolphins are worth far more to Taiji's Isana Fisheries Union than slaughtered ones. Taiji recently sold six dolphins to Saudi Arabia for 3.5 million yen ($43,750) each.
Without demand, experts believe that the drives will stop. So don't buy a ticket to any dolphinarium or park with captive marine mammals.
Then visit the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian's website to find out more about the dolphin drives and their link to captivity. You can also follow their live updates on Twitter @CoveGuardians and at Facebook.
Finally, Cove Guardians are on the ground in Taiji for the entire season and sometimes even beyond. The time and funds spent, are often their own. They face the slaughters that occur here on a daily basis. They hope that eventually, their presence will help to stop one of the largest mass slaughters of dolphins in the world.
They don't do it for the glory. It's a thankless job being on the front lines and they work under the most trying of circumstances everyday. But they persist at it because they feel the need to, and so what was once done secretly, can never be hidden again.
Standing tall. Cove Guardians support one another as they watch the brutal slaughter of striped dolp...
Standing tall. Cove Guardians support one another as they watch the brutal slaughter of striped dolphins.
Courtesy SSCS Cove Guardians
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about striped dolphins killed in the cove, taiji dolphin drives, sea shepherd cove guardians, Sea shepherd conservation society
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