For the first time this season, the number of dolphins driven into the Cove topped 1,000 animals. Meanwhile, a coastal whale was incidentally trapped in nets and butchered.
With more than two months still left in the season, the 2012-13 dolphin drives in Taiji are in full swing as several more pods of cetaceans are killed in the Cove. In just three days, fishermen with Isana Fisheries Union have driven in and killed more than 100 dolphins, pushing the number of cetaceans driven into the inlet to over 1,000.
On Jan. 14, 19 Risso's dolphins were captured and all but two of the animals were slaughtered. The following day, fishermen drove in two pods of cetaceans, a pod of six Risso's dolphins followed by a pod of 14-16 striped dolphins. The Risso's were killed first, then the pod of striped dolphins were pushed directly in on top of the existing carcasses, and also slaughtered.
Yesterday, an even larger pod of 58-60 striped dolphins was brutally slain.
Meanwhile, just outside of Taiji harbor, Martyn Stewart, an audio/naturalist specializing in location and field recordings, captured this footage of a coastal whale that died after becoming entangled in fishing nets.
Stewart, who is on location in Taiji filming the drive hunts, described the awful day he was forced to endure on his Facebook page:
First the boats go out, then we see a whale dead in the nets at the lookout point, then a massive pod of striped dolphins are caught. The killers separated the pod 3 times because they were striped dolphins, they could not risk the chance of so many in the cove on a Friday afternoon with Saturday lingering around the corner. [Fishermen typically take Saturday's off].
As the video shows Stewart says, "the whale was dragged to the butcher shop and cut up into steaks behind the tarps and shutters."
According to Ceta-Base.com, an online marine mammal inventory:
Since the start of the season on September 1st, 2012 a total of 1,015 dolphins from five species have been driven into the cove in Taiji, Japan. Of this total 562 were killed, 288 were released and 163 were live-capture.
Activists also report that several dolphins consigned to captivity to be trained and sold to aquariums around the world, have died while being held in sea pens in Taiji harbor.
Several days ago, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Cove Guardians, reported the death of a Pacific white-sided dolphin caught in a previous drive. Just yesterday, they captured this image of another Pacific white-sided dolphin being force-fed. It is just one of many issues wild-caught dolphins must endure activists say, during their transition into captivity:
Courtesy SSCS Cove Guardians
"Taiji Whale Museum trainers and vets, along with killers, force feed and medicate a white-sided dolphin in the harbor pens", said Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians.
SSCS Cove Guardians reported on their Facebook page, that no animals were spared, not even "juveniles and babies".
Courtesy SSCS Cove Guardians
A pod of between 58-60 striped dolphins were slaughtered in the Cove yesterday.
Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians will remain in Taiji until the drives end in March. They have captured footage of almost every dolphin drive that has occurred this season. It is archived and available to view at Taiji.ezearth.tv.
Taiji's dolphin drive season occurs takes place between Sept. and March every year, and was featured in the Academy Award-winning documentary, The Cove.