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Image: Peter Flood

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More Heartbreak In Taiji

WDC is devastated with the news from Taiji that over 100 pilot whales were driven into the cove in Taiji on Monday, October 29th.  After being held captive in the cove overnight, 15 pilot whales were slaughtered for their meat, and a baby pilot whale drowned after being entangled in the nets.  The remaining 80-90 pilot whales await their fate as they continue to be held in the cove.

After having been held for over twenty-four hours, and with pleas from grassroots groups across the globe for them to be spared even as livestream coverage over the Internet occurred, the whales were killed in the usual bloody manner. This is the fourth pod of pilot whales captured in the Japanese Cove since the season began on Sept. 1.  Images from the hunt can be viewed here and Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians continue to provide livestreaming video of these brutal hunts.

The first dolphin hunt of the season occurred on September 7th, where approximately 20-25 pilot whales were driven into the killing cove in Taiji. Since then, and including this recent hunt, nearly 150 striped, Risso’s and pilot whales have been killed in the hunts, with 28 bottlenose and being taken alive into captivity. 

Dolphin drive hunts, also known as the ‘drive fisheries,’ occur annually from September through April of each year in the coastal town of Taiji. The town of Futo also maintains a quota to conduct the drive hunts, but has not done so since 2004. During these hunts, dolphins are encircled by motorboats out at sea and are then chased and corralled into shallow waters where they are trapped with nets, dragged beneath tarpaulins, and then killed or hauled off live to be sold into captivity. Every aspect of the hunt is extremely cruel, from the exhausting drive from the open ocean that can separate mothers and calves and other family groups, to confinement in a netted cove where the dolphins are crudely slaughtered.  More recently, the award-winning documentary, The Cove, has raised worldwide consciousness to this practice. 

Killed for their meat, or as a form of ‘pest control’ where dolphins are considered competitors with local fisheries, the dolphins are often held for days before slaughter utilizing methods that do not meet even minimum international standards of care. Official drive hunt quotas for this season are 2,089 dolphins of mixed species.

The statistics for numbers of whales and dolphins killed in the drive hunts in Taiji are staggering. In the 2003-2004 drive hunt in Taiji, 1165 dolphins were killed for consumption and an additional 78 dolphins were captured alive for the captivity industry.   In 2008-2009, the official quota of 2,393 dolphins resulted in over 1,400 dolphins being killed, and over 100 taken into captivity. Over 1,200 dolphins were killed in the 2010-2011 hunt season, with an additional 213 being taken alive into captivity from these hunts.  Official quotas for the 2012-2013 hunt season are 2,089 dolphins of mixed species.

WDC continues to work for an end to these brutal hunts.