Cove Guardians Believe the Dolphins are Being Transported to a Marine Park within Japan, Call Upon Japanese Supporters to Help

Bottlenose transfer in full swing at Harbor. 4 dolphins have so far been loaded upBottlenose transfer in full swing at Harbor.
4 dolphins have so far been loaded up
Photo: Sea Shepherd
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society volunteers on the ground in Taiji, Japan are currently monitoring the transfer of bottlenose dolphins captured last year in Taiji’s brutal drive hunt, now destined for a lifetime in captivity.

Sea Shepherd’s volunteer Cove Guardians have been standing watch since 5 pm yesterday (Japan time), monitoring the captive transfer process throughout the night. The Cove Guardians documented as buyers examined dolphins purchased by Taiji Whale Museum — one of Taiji’s three captive facilities. The dolphins were being held both at the Whale Museum and in Taiji’s harbor pens.

An estimated five dolphins are being transferred, including trained dolphins from Taiji Whale Museum and untrained dolphins taken directly from the harbor pens.

Based on information gathered by the Cove Guardians, Sea Shepherd believes that these dolphins will be transported to a marine park within Japan and not outside of the country, though their precise destination is not yet known. Sea Shepherd is calling upon its supporters within Japan to help identify the identity of the buyers who purchased the transferred dolphins as well as the dolphins’ final destination within Japan.

The transfer process is a frightening and stressful experience for dolphins and whales, who spend hours or even days confined to tiny, dark, coffin-like crates on the moving transport trucks. Depending on the final destination, the Cove Guardians expect that the transfer of these bottlenose dolphins could take up to several days.

In addition to the stress of the transfer process, dolphins and small whales captured in Taiji have already been through a horrific nightmare by the time they are loaded onto trucks and taken to their new marine prisons. When a pod is driven into Taiji’s killing cove, the killers and trainers work side-by-side to select the “prettiest” dolphins and whales — those without visible scars — to be sold for captivity. As the Cove Guardians have documented repeatedly, the captive selection process occurs simultaneously to the slaughter process. The newly captive cetaceans are forced to witness the murder of the other members of their pod, swimming in the blood of their own family.

A transfer truck prepared to transport bottlenose dolphins in tiny, coffin-like cratesA transfer truck prepared to transport bottlenose dolphins in tiny, coffin-like crates
Photo: Sea Shepherd
“The Cove Guardians continue to document the inextricable link between the captive industry and Taiji’s brutal slaughter of wild, migrating dolphins and small whales. Taiji town in Japan has proven to be ground zero for the international trade in captive cetaceans,” said Sea Shepherd Senior Cove Guardian Campaign Leader, Melissa Sehgal.

“Bottlenose dolphins are especially lucrative in the captive trade. A bottlenose who has already been ‘trained’ to perform tricks for food can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Selling these dolphins marks a big payday for the greedy Taiji trainers,” Sehgal added.

The Cove Guardians have confirmed that the bottlenose dolphins currently being transferred were captured during the 2013-2014 hunt season.

For a staggering six months of each year – from September until March – entire family units, or pods, of dolphins and small whales at a time 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. In a drive just as stressful as the drive into the cove, remaining pod members — usually juveniles and infants — are driven back out to sea with little hope 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.

**CALL TO ACTION**: Melissa Sehgal and the Cove Guardians are asking Sea Shepherd’s dedicated supporters in Japan to help these bottlenose dolphins, who have already endured such tragic loss and suffering.

Please help Sea Shepherd and the dolphins by helping us identify:

  • The identities of the buyers of the captive bottlenose dolphins

  • Any aquariums or marine parks in Japan currently expecting the arrival of new dolphins

Please send any relevant information to Sea Shepherd at:

Thank you for your concern for the dolphins!

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