Sea Shepherd Senior Cove Guardian Campaign Leader Melissa Sehgal, Recently Denied Entry to Japan, to Call in Live During Streaming

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After a long and grueling drive, the pod was held overnight in the cove to await their fate After a long and grueling drive, the pod was held overnight in the cove to await their fate
Photo: Sea Shepherd
A large pod of approximately 40-45 adult and juvenile pilot whales and at least eight bottlenose dolphins, including a calf of just a few months old, was captured yesterday and has been held overnight in Taiji’s infamous killing cove. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Cove Guardians will live stream today at ~1:30pm PT/4:30pm ET as the cetaceans — who have already endured a long and grueling drive into Taiji Harbor and hours without food or shelter — face captive selection or slaughter.

Sea Shepherd Senior Cove Guardian Campaign Leader, Melissa Sehgal, who has spent four seasons and six months at a time in Taiji, will call in at approximately 3 pm PT today (8 am Japan time tomorrow) to speak to the Cove Guardians on the ground in Japan and viewers around the world during the live stream, which can be viewed on Sea Shepherd’s website here:

Sehgal was denied entry to Japan this month and escorted by police onto her flight home to Seattle after being interrogated for nine hours and held for 24 hours, despite never violating Japanese law.

Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians documented and live streamed to the world on the morning of Friday December 19 (Japan time) as what appeared to be a massive pod of pilot whales was chased toward the cove. The pod fought desperately for their lives, but were ultimately unable to escape the relentless drive of the hunting boats and the “wall of sound” produced by the banger poles struck against the side of the vessels. Once netted in, their fate was sealed: the pod would spend more than 20 hours confined to the shallow waters of the cove without food or shelter before the brutal processes of captive selection and slaughter begin. The young bottlenose calf clung to its mother’s side as they spy-hopped after the terrifying drive, surely exhausted, confused and uncertain of what is to come next.

As the Cove Guardians reviewed their photographs, they noticed that netted in the cove along with the pilot whales were several bottlenose dolphins. This multi-species pod is a profitable find for the killers and trainers of Taiji, and it is quite possible that some of the dolphins and whales will be sold for captivity in aquariums and marine parks in Japan or overseas.

Rare “finds” like this, though, would be even more profitable for Taiji if they were left in the sea, and not slaughtered or taken captive. Other rare finds and captures by Taiji’s hunters this season have been two albino dolphins and one piebald dolphin. If the hunters put down their weapons, and instead turned to whale- and dolphin-watching operations, ecotourism could create a significant tourist draw for Taiji — without harming the wild, migrating cetacean families that swim past its shores.

“This beautiful mixed pod, including mothers and their calves, will soon be violently ripped apart — several generations slaughtered or stolen from the ocean for captivity,” said Sehgal. “It’s time for the killers to realize that dolphins and whales do not belong to Japan or to any nation. They have inherent value because they are living, sentient beings and vital parts of marine ecosystems, not because of how much we can profit from their deaths or imprisonment.”

The multi-species pod, including approximately 40-45 pilot whales and at least eight bottlenose dolphins, is a profitable find for the killersThe multi-species pod, including approximately 40-45 pilot whales and at least eight bottlenose dolphins,
is a profitable find for the killers
Photo: Sea Shepherd
Since the beginning of the 2014-2015 hunt season on September 1, the dolphin hunters have driven in a total of 22 family units, or pods, of cetaceans: one bottlenose dolphin pod, one pilot whale pod, two pods of striped dolphins and this most recent mixed pod of bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales. The majority of the season’s victims to date have been Risso’s dolphins, with 18 Risso’s pods captured and, with the exception of just a few, killed thus far.

For six months of each year — day in and day out, from September until March —entire pods of dolphins and small whales are driven into Taiji’s killing cove. Banger poles are hit against the side of the hunting boats to create a “wall of sound,” disorienting the sound-sensitive marine mammals and making it nearly impossible for them to escape the drive. Once netted into the cove, the dolphins and whales face brutal slaughter or a lifetime in captivity. Killers and trainers work side-by-side to select the “prettiest” dolphins and small whales, those without visible scars, to be sold for captivity. Others are slaughtered before the eyes of their family. In a drive just as stressful as the drive into the cove, any remaining pod members — usually juveniles and infants — are driven back out to sea with little chance of survival on their own.

Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians are the only group on the ground in Taiji every day throughout the entire six-month hunting season, documenting and live streaming every capture and every slaughter for the world to see. The 2014-2015 season marks the fifth year of Operation Infinite Patience, and the Cove Guardians will not stop shining a spotlight on this atrocity until the slaughter ends.

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