With more than two months still left in the season, the number of dolphins driven into the Cove topped 900 yesterday, as a pod of between 20-30 striped dolphins were killed for their meat. They were the fifth pod of dolphins in six days forced into the natural inlet by drive boats in Taiji, Japan.
Hellish week in Taiji for cetaceans
On Jan. 7 and 8, fisherman captured the first Pacific white-sided dolphins of the season. Fifteen cetaceans were pushed in from the ocean and were netted just offshore in an 'at sea' capture. One dolphin died during the capture process from incidental injury.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Cove Guardians
reported that the dolphin was "so badly injured that it was taken directly to the Taiji butcher house."
The remainder were consigned to sea pens in Taiji harbor, dumped unceremoniously into captivity to be trained and sold for public entertainment:
Unfortunately the stress of the capture was just too much for one of the dolphins taken captive. SSCS Cove Guardians reported that yesterday, one of the dolphins died:
On Jan. 9 and 10, two pods of Risso's dolphins were also driven into the Cove. Of the first pod of 14 cetaceans, all but two animals were slaughtered. The second pod of 21-22 dolphins was robbed of two juveniles, before the remaining Risso's were killed. In total, four dolphins were consigned to sea pens to be trained and sold.
Yesterday, a pod of 25-32 striped dolphins met the same fate. No captives were taken this time, and as the dolphins were dragged beneath tarps to be slaughtered out of view, Cove Guardians snapped this image of pod members waiting to die as they swam in the blood of their pod members.
In just a few hours the dolphins had been butchered and the fresh meat was available for sale. One truck was so laden down with dolphin meat, that a slab of meat inadvertently fell out:
It was gathered up quickly as Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians documented the incident:
The dolphin drive season that occurs in Taiji between Sept. and March every year was featured in the Academy Award-winning documentary, The Cove
. This year -- according to online marine mammal inventory Ceta-Base.com
, the 2012/13 quota is 2,089 total animals from seven species.
To date, an estimated 900 plus dolphins across six species have been driven into Taiji's Cove, roughly half of this number were slaughtered. The number taken into captivity is nearing 170 animals. Captive dolphins from the Taiji dolphin drives are trained and sold to aquariums around the world for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians stream live from Taiji.ezearth.tv
whenever there is a drive in progress. Archived footage of past drives is also available at the site. For more information on the dolphin hunts, visit the Cove Guardians
on the web, or follow their real time updates on Twitter
Martyn Stewart captured this video of one of the two pods of Risso's dolphins recently captured in the Cove. An audio/naturalist specializing in location and field recordings -- mostly for natural history documentaries, this is Stewart's third year in Taiji:
Stewart's sounds have been included in over 150 feature films, radio and television, and have also found their way into CD’s books, bio-accoustic study data collection research and commissioned field work.
He can be found on the web at Nature Sound.org
and via his YouTube Channel