Dolphin Superpod Captured In Taiji, Japan

dolphin drive hunts taiji japan

On Friday 20th January a super pod of 300+ Bottlenose dolphins, containing many babies and juveniles, was captured in Taiji, Japan in a brutal drive hunt. These drive hunts use motor boats to force the dolphins into a cove, where they are then netted and trapped. They take place every day for six months of the year, from September through to March.

A lone dolphin managed to escaped the nets but wouldn’t leave his or her family, staying as close as possible to them throughout their ordeal. The pod were kept for 5 days with no food or shelter in freezing conditions. The pod was split into 3 to make it easier for the trainers to assess their suitability for captivity.

Dolphins have incredibly strong family bonds and many dolphins became caught in nets during the process and struggled to get back to their family members, with mothers desperate to reach their babies and young. During the 5 days, 4 dolphins died from stress and 100 dolphins were selected to be sold into the captive dolphin industry – many of them babies and juveniles. They will be starved, force fed dead, medicated fish and will exist in concrete tanks – never to see the ocean or their family members again.

After 5 days the remainder of the pod were driven back out to sea, many won’t survive. They have seen 100 of their pod taken into slavery, mothers who just days ago had babies now swam alone. This has been a horrific event even by Taiji’s standards.

The only positive is the awareness the Cove Guardians have been able to raise, with many news outlets covering the story for the first time. This is the only way we will end these horrific drive hunts; by removing the demand for captive dolphins, we will stop the drive hunts for good.

Please share with your friends and never, ever swim with captive dolphins – there is no beauty in stolen freedom.

Please

Image: Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians

Death of ‘Blackfish’ Tilikum

Tilikum - Getty Images

On Friday 6th January, aged just 35 years old, the Orca Tilikum passed away from a bacterial infection caused by his captivity. In the wild Tilikum could have easily lived to 70 plus years old – a much loved wild Orca known as Granny recently died aged 105.

Tilikum was an Orca (sometimes known as Killer Whales) who was captured in Iceland in 1983 at Hafnarfjörður, near Reykjavík. He was stolen from his family unit (known as a pod) at just 2 years old. In the wild most Orcas will stay with or very near their family pod for life. After a year he was transferred to Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria, British Columbia, he was then transferred in 1992 to SeaWorld Orlando, Florida.

The effects of being held in a tiny barren concrete tank took its toll on Tilikum and he was involved in the death of three people; the first a trainer at the now closed Sealand of the Pacific, the second a man who was trespassing in Tilikum’s enclosure at SeaWorld Orlando, and the third and most well known Dawn Brancheau, a senior SeaWorld Orlando trainer in 2010.

In 2013 Tilikum was featured in the documentary Blackfish which helped enormously to educate the public about the suffering of Orcas in captivity .

Tilikum was a big Orca, the largest Orca in captivity, and he was used by SeaWorld to sire calves by being forcibly masturbated. He sired 21 calves, of whom eleven are (currently) still alive. At 22.5 feet (6.9m) long, he weighed around about 12,500 pounds (5,700kg). His pectoral fins were 7 feet (2.1m) long, his 6.5 foot tall (2.0m) dorsal fin was collapsed completely to his left side due to the effects of captivity.

Despite worldwide condemnation and repeated calls for SeaWorld to release the Orcas into an ocean sanctuary, they refuse to grant their captives freedom and continue to spout utter rubbish about caring for their welfare.

SeaWorld must now put a plan into action to release its remaining captives, including Tilikum’s offspring, the other Orcas, Dolphins, Beluga whales, Sea Lions, Penguins and Walruses – who all suffer in this artificial environment with its concrete enclosures, screaming crowds and loud music.

It’s too late for Tilikum but let his legacy be the freedom of his fellow inmates.

Swim freely and in peace now Tilikum, November 1981 – 6 January 2017.

Image source: Getty Images

Safari, the Zoo, and Wildlife Conservation

Our guest blogger Jack examines the role Zoos play in conservation and whether there are better ways to protect animals from habitat destruction and poaching.

“People love to experience animals up close and around the world millions of visitors head to the zoo every year. Their motivation is to take a look at a variety of species, ones which otherwise they might only get to see in a book or on film. Figures published by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) in 2003 estimated that there were more than 10,000 zoos around the world and the figure has probably risen since then. However, the question needs to be asked, are zoos the best way to protect animals?

Zoos: The Pros

Zoos are run under very strict regulations and subject to regular welfare checks. In the past decades there has also been much research done on the effect of captivity on animals and many enclosures are now created as mini-habitats, to be as close as possible to how an animal would live in the wild.

A key aspect of zoos is the conservation work they undertake. There are numerous breeding programs in place whose aim is to protect those species which are facing extinction whether due to the destruction of their habitat or because of poaching.

Zoos: The Cons

However, while there are positive aspects to zoos we also need to bear in mind the negative implications of keeping animals in captivity.

– Not a Natural Habitat: However well-intentioned a zoo is to make enclosures as close as possible to a natural habitat, space and environmental limitations make that almost impossible.

– Stressed Animals: Many animals in captivity exhibit signs of stress and will often carry out repetitive behaviours such as pacing backwards and forwards or shaking their heads.

– Surplus Animals: More animals than can be kept are sometimes bred and this can lead to them being slaughtered. A recent example of this received mainstream media attention when Marius, a healthy 18 month year old giraffe, was killed at a Norwegian zoo.

– Cost of Capture: When zoos capture wild animals to be kept in captivity there can be casualties along the way. The documentary Blackfish drew attention to this when it highlighted the death of several orcas.

– Animal Escapes: Animals can also escape from zoos and if they are dangerous, or if it is not possible to re-capture them, they are sometimes shot so as not to put the public at risk

– Unpredictable Animals: Wild animals are just that, wild, and when they are in close contact with humans, it’s often difficult to predict their actions. A recent case highlighted this when a young boy fell into a gorilla enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo. There was much conjecture over whether the animal was protecting the child or posed a risk, but ultimately Jambo, the male gorilla, was shot and killed.

An Alternative to Zoos: Safaris

An alternative to zoos, and one which means you can truly experience animals in their natural habitat, is heading out on safari. The only prohibitive factor can be cost but outweighing that is the many benefits safaris offer.

Tourism can sometimes come at a cost to the natural world but safaris are ‘responsible tourism’ in that they help support an infrastructure which then ensures the animals stay safe in their environment. The safaris help local communities as they support jobs and draw in tourists, who then spend money whilst on holiday.

Safaris are also a cruelty-free way to see animals in their natural habitat. Many of the safari game parks employ people to guard against poachers and this helps to keep wildlife numbers up and protect them from extinction.

For children particularly, going on safari can instill in them a love for the natural world from an early age. They can watch animals, with no bars or glass standing between them, and they can see how animals behave when they are free. A safari also brings children into contact with other cultures and assists them to learn about geography, history and biology. Some of these children will grow up to have a passion for conservation.

How to Get Involved With Wildlife Conservation

The dire situation for some wildlife species means there is a desperate need for more people to become involved with conservation efforts. If this is something which appeals to you, then as a first step you can connect with conservation organizations and read more around the subject. If it’s something you want to dedicate your career to, choose your subjects wisely at school and university. One of the best ways to gain valuable work experience is to take a gap year where you travel and volunteer learning about conservation at ground level.

For all animal lovers it is important to be careful about how and where we choose to see wildlife. Look into the work which each zoo and wildlife park does and head only to those who you feel are serving animals well. We can each take a stand, on however small a scale, even if we are only voting with our wallet.”

Taiji Dolphin Drive Hunt 2015-2016 Season Over

taiji update

The Taiji Dolphin drive hunt season has now thankfully come to an end, until 1st September when it will start all over again.

Since the start of the season on 1 September 2015, 884 dolphins from 5 species have been driven into the cove in Taiji, Japan.

652 were slaughtered, 121 were released (but likely died afterwards) and 111 have been taken as live-capture to be sold into slavery.

Species taken/killed include: Pacific Bottlenose dolphins, Pacific White-Sided dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, Short-Finned Pilot Whales and Striped dolphins.

The drive hunts officially last from 1st September to 1st March each year, however Dolphins and Porpoises are actually killed in Japanese waters all year round via harpoon and drive fishery:

Iwate (Nov – May)
Miyagi (July – Aug, Oct – Apr)
Aomori (Nov – Apr)
Wakayama (All year)
Shizuoka (Sep – Mar)
Hokkaido (May – June, Aug – Oct)
Chiba (July – Aug, Nov – Apr)

We remember all those Dolphins killed this season and in all previous seasons. We remember those who witnessed their family members being murdered and whose own lives ended the moment they were taken away into slavery; to be starved and forced to perform tricks in ‘Dolphin shows’ and ‘swim with Dolphins’ tourist attractions.

Find out more about the Taiji Dolphin Drive Hunts

Please never, ever buy a ticket to see captive dolphins – the drive hunts are funded and fuelled by the captive dolphin industry. By supporting this vile industry, you are paying for the slaughter of Dolphins and ensuring that other Dolphins will also be captured and forced into a miserable, shortened life in captivity.

Information source: and

Update On Taiji Dolphin Drive Hunt

bottlenose dolphins murdered in japan

Following on from our coverage of the brutal capture and murder of a family of Pilot Whales that saw 51 slaughtered and 1 taken into captivity on 19th November 2015, here is an update on the drive hunts that have followed.

28th November

The Pilot Whale taken into captivity during the drive on 19th November has died. He or she had been being force fed by whale museum trainers in the harbour pens after refusing to eat for 8 days.

29th November

A family of six Risso’s dolphins were driven into the cove and murdered, it all happened very quickly. The family that were swimming freely in the ocean were now dead just two hours later.

16th December

After 16 Blue Cove days, a family of 8 Risso’s dolphins, including one juvenile, were brutally murdered by the hunters of Taiji. The family fought bravely for over five hours and nearly escaped, however they were ultimately unable to escape the evil killers in their vessels.

18th December

The dolphin killers spotted a large pod of Striped dolphins migrating past and a drive began. Around half of the pod managed to escape but 36 Striped dolphins were driven into the killing cove and none were spared. Striped dolphins are seen as unsuitable for captivity and they are always killed for their contaminated flesh.

20th December

A large pod of 90 Bottlenose dolphins were driven into the cove. 30 dolphins were taken into captivity, they are now slaves for the rest of their shortened lives. 30 dolphins passed away due to the brutal selection process and due to extreme shock. The rest of the pod, around 20 dolphins, were driven back to the sea. They contained many babies and juveniles and are unlikely to survive.

5th January 2016

After 15 Blue Cove days with no killings, 15-17 Risso’s dolphins were spotted off of the coast of Taiji and were very quickly driven into the cove. The pod huddled together in terror, none were spared.

6th January

35 beautiful Striped dolphins were located as they migrated past Taiji, they fought for two hours but were ultimately driven into the killing cove and all were murdered in front of their family members.

striped dolphins murdered in Taiji Japan

Striped Dolphins Killed in Taiji, Japan

7th January

A family of Bottlenose dolphins were driven towards the killing Cove at Taiji – half of them thankfully managed to escape just outside the cove, but the rest were driven in and the nets sealed them inside. Trainers came to determine the fate of the dolphins; if they were ‘pretty’ enough, i.e. free from scars and blemishes, they would be taken to be sold into the captivity industry. However the trainers felt that these dolphins were not suitable for sale and so the entire family were murdered in front of each other.

“The global captivity industry is the main driver of the brutal and barbaric hunt and slaughter of thousands of dolphins and whales every year.” Sea Shepherd.

Dolphins are taken from the wild for captivity in brutal drive hunts that kill their families

Although poor dolphins are killed for their Mercury contaminated bodies to be eaten, the dolphin drive hunts are fuelled and financed by the captive dolphin industry. 12 boats go out each day for six months of every year from the small harbour at Taiji, in the Wakayama prefecture of Japan. The dolphins are hunted to either be killed for meat or sold to marine parks. The cost of these hunts however would not be worthwhile without the huge sums – up to $300,000 per dolphin, that can be made from sales to the ‎captivity‬ industry. For meat, dolphins only make around $600 each.

Say no to captivity – never buy a ticket to a facility with captive dolphins or any other mammals. There is no beauty in stolen freedom.

Follow the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians.

All images copyright: Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians.

Family Of Pilot Whales Murdered In Taiji, Japan

pilot whales murdered in taiji japan

On 21st November 2015, two family pods of Pilot Whales, containing many juveniles, were captured in Taiji, Japan. For three days they were netted in the infamous Taiji Cove, left without food or water and not knowing their fate or the fate of their loved ones. The world looked on and wondered also what their fate would be – captivity or slaughter.

The loyal, loving families experienced their last moments together and in the ocean, never to know freedom again.

One Pilot Whale was ripped away from its family early on, they tried to prevent him or her being taken from them but they could not compete with the killers and trainers working together. After three days of unimaginable suffering and cruelty, out of approximately 60 or more Pilot Whales, only 15 or so juveniles were released, some dying whilst being driven back out to the ocean. The rest of the juveniles are highly unlikely to survive but they are released so their deaths don’t count against the killer’s quota. The young Pilot Whale taken into captivity refused to eat and eventually died, joining the rest of his or her family who were murdered for their mercury contaminated bodies – not fit for human consumption.  

Please never pay to see a dolphin show, the captive dolphins you see are forced to perform for dead fish in tiny pools and are highly likely to come from the brutal Taiji dolphin drive hunts, or they will be descended from a dolphin taken from the ocean in this way. Remember, there is no beauty in stolen freedom.

Pilot Whales trapped in the nets

Image: Sea Shepherd. Pilot Whales trapped in the nets

Read more about Sea Shepherd’s campaign to end the dolphin drive hunts in Taiji

London Protest For Japan Dolphins Day 2015

no to dolphin captivity

There was a great turn out in London on 1st September for Japan Dolphins Day 2015 in a protest outside the Japanese Embassy in Piccadilly. Hundreds attended, including Dominic Dyer from Born Free and Care for the Wild.

The dolphin drive hunts in Taiji are funded by the captive dolphin industry. The drive hunts officially take place from 1st September through to the beginning of March every year. Please never buy a ticket to a facility with captive dolphins or Orcas.

Find out more about the Taiji dolphin drive hunts.

For updates, please follow the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians Facebook Page and the Twitter and Facebook hashtags ‪#‎Tweet4Taiji‬ and ‪#‎OpHenkaku‬.

Taiji Protest Feb 2015

Taiji protest feb 2015

A peaceful protest took place outside the Japanese Embassy in London on 20th February, against the slaughter and abduction for the captive dolphin industry of thousands of dolphins and small whales every year in Taiji, Japan. Around 1,000 people turned out to make their voices heard and to show Japan that the capture and slaughter of dolphins will not be tolerated.

Read more about the Taiji dolphin drive hunts

London Protest Against Taiji Dolphin Slaughters And Captivity January 2015

Taiji Anti Captivity Protest Jan 2015 London

London turned out in force on Saturday 17th January in opposition to the continued slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan and against the captive dolphin and orca industry, such as Lolita who has been imprisoned for 44 years since being stolen from her family in the ocean. She is currently languishing in Miami Sea Aquarium, in the smallest pool to house an orca in Northern America.

There were around 1,000 people who took part in the protest, which started with a march through central London to Trafalgar Square. Once there guest speakers including Will Travers from the Born Free Foundation, Dominic Dyer from Care for the Wild and Sharon Bull delivered highly charged speeches against keeping cetaceans in captivity. Sharon Bull gave a reading of her poem about the baby albino dolphin nicknamed on social media ‘Angel’; who was stolen from her family in the Cove at Taiji exactly a year ago to the day of the protest. Her family were butchered and she now remains confined in a tiny, filthy pool in Taiji Whale Museum.

The day ended with a protest outside the Virgin Holidays store in Kensington, where a petition was handed in to the store for Richard Branson to ask him to cease selling holidays to SeaWorld and to stop supporting the captive dolphin industry.

Please read more about the dolphin slaughters in Taiji.

Bottlenose Dolphins And Pilot Whales Captured In Taiji, Japan

Taiji Dolphin Slaughter

On the 19th December the Taiji dolphin killers drove a large mixed pod of Bottlenose dolphins and Pilot Whales into the killing cove. The pod contained many juveniles and babies. They were held overnight while the killers went home to rest. The next morning the killers separated the pod into two separate groups; the first group consisted of mostly Bottlenose dolphins, of which 4 were taken into a miserable life in captivity.

Approximately 22-25 dolphins and whales were killed on the 20th December. The remainder of the pod were held for a second night. They had eaten no food since before their capture and had witnessed their family being manhandled and slaughtered. They now swam in their blood.

On the second day the remaining juvenile dolphins and whales were forced into slings and dumped out at sea in different locations, their chances of survival are slim to none. Some of these calves are possibly under a year old and without their mother’s milk, they are very likely to die. Calves usually nurse until they are 3 or 4 years old.

One Pilot Whale died from stress and trauma. The killers tried to hide its body as they took it into the butcher house. This Pilot Whale won’t count against the killer’s quota.

After being held for 2 days in the cove, this peaceful mixed pod of Bottlenose dolphins and Pilot Whales were either slaughtered, taken for captivity or dumped at sea. There were a total of 4 captives taken and considering that captured dolphins can be sold for up to around $300,000 each, it was a very profitable weekend for the town of Taiji.

Please follow the fantastic Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians to find out the latest news from Taiji.