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September 16, 2010 / V A Nichols

Taiji Update From Oceanic Defense

September 15, 2010.
It’s with mixed emotions that we sit down to write these latest updates from the Cove. So far, no animals have been killed in the Cove this year and that, in and of itself, is a huge victory. But there is something else going on here, something just as barbaric, something just as cruel. The dolphins are still being hunted, they are still being driven into the Cove, but instead of facing instant death, they are forced to live the rest of their lives trapped and starved for our amusement — dolphins that are being sold to marine parks around the world where they will live out their shortened lives performing tricks for food, never to swim in the ocean again, never to see their families, and never exist as ‘real’ dolphins again.

We knew that the fishermen were taking the captured dolphins somewhere away from the infamous Cove, and we set out to find that location, thinking it would be stuck out of site, away from prying eyes, but we were wrong. They have these majestic animals hidden in plain sight. Pens line the bay, nets hold these animals captive in the middle of the ocean they love so much. How very cruel that is; inches away from freedom and their pod, awaiting lives of isolation, misery and torment.

Security is so tight, that we can’t get close enough to the pens to investigate the status of each individual animal, but we do know they have several animals that look quite ill, lethargic, and two that look like they have been injured by boat propellers as evidenced by the scars on their backs. There are at least two young calves, isolated and alone, separated for any pod, or family unit. All we have seen are Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops sp.), though we know in the past they have taken Risso Dolphins (Grampus griseus) during the hunt season as well. As to the fate of the 15 that were taken earlier this week, we don’t know the answer to that yet. We know they are alive, and being held for transfer, but it’s impossible for us to determine which animals are from the hunt two weeks ago, and which are from the most recent hunt, as the captive animals are not maintained in their original groups.

The captive dolphin trade is the ‘bread and butter’ of these hunts. Live dolphins bring much higher prices that dead ones. So it’s up to us to make that stop. If you wish to see a dolphin up-close and personal, take a responsible, sustainable eco-trip that specializes in dolphin watching. If you want to swim with them, then do it… in the OCEAN, where they belong, not in concrete tanks. That’s not swimming with a dolphin, that’s swimming with a slave. Every single ticket purchased to view cetacean-captivity entertainment at places like SeaWorld, Marineland, Miami Seaquarium, or ‘swim-with-dolphin’ programs helps support this tragic industry and barbaric capture hunts like this one. Shut down these activities and you shut down these hunts. Forever. There will be no supply if there is no demand.

Additionally, our sources tell us that the fishermen believe that we, the “Westerners”, will go away in October, and that they plan to return to the slaughter at that time. So it’s up to all of us once again, to stop that from happening. Come here if you can, raise funds, hold bake sales, go door-to-door if you have to; and if that’s not possible, please support the people that volunteer and the organizations that work to ensure “the world is watching”. It’s not cheap to be over here, but it’s worth every penny. For those of you that can’t come, and can’t financially support those who can, make phone calls, send letters, and faxes, and make your voices heard; join our Coalition to Stop the Taiji Dolphin Drive ’10 and scroll down to “What can YOU do?” for more information. One whisper, when added to thousands of others, becomes a roar…remember?

If we are all vigilante, we can make the killing and cruel captivity stop, forever.

Report submitted September 13, 2010 from Taiji, Wakayama, Japan.
Oceanic Defense Field Operations Volunteer

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