Sea Shepherd has notified local police of threats and potential violence from Japanese nationalists opposed to Sea Shepherd’s work to document and expose the brutal capture and slaughter of cetaceans in Taiji’s cove

A Cove Guardian volunteer monitors the hunting boats. Photo: Sea ShepherdA Cove Guardian volunteer monitors the hunting boats. Photo: Sea ShepherdSea Shepherd Conservation Society has received a warning of threats from Japanese nationalists opposed to Sea Shepherd’s Dolphin Defense Campaign Operation Henkaku and the presence of the organization’s volunteer Cove Guardians in Taiji, Japan.

Sea Shepherd has notified local police of threats received from a credible source that more than 100 individuals plan to be present in Taiji from Oct. 31 through Nov. 1 to hold a rally to promote Japan’s hunting of dolphins and whales and attend Taiji town’s annual Whale Festival. The nationalists plan to oppose Sea Shepherd and the work of its Cove Guardians to monitor, document and expose the brutal capture and slaughter of dolphins and other small cetaceans in Taiji’s infamous killing cove. Their plans have been published online in Japanese here.

Sea Shepherd has received warning that supporters of the hunt are attempting to outnumber and intimidate the Cove Guardians, and are purposefully staying in close proximity to where Sea Shepherd’s volunteers are staying in order to harass them. Sea Shepherd is taking this threat against its crew seriously and considers there to be a potential for violence from supporters of the dolphin drive hunt.

“Sea Shepherd will not be intimidated by threats from those who oppose our efforts to protect marine wildlife and we have never been deterred from our mission. However, we are taking this threat seriously. We have notified the appropriate authorities and are taking the necessary steps to protect our volunteers,” said Sea Shepherd Campaign Coordinator, David Hance. “In our history spanning nearly 40 years, Sea Shepherd’s non-violent crew has never caused harm to anyone. It is our opponents who kill marine wildlife and plunder the oceans – and the supporters of this mindless and cruel destruction – who have repeatedly shown violence and disregard for life, both human and non-human.”

Sea Shepherd will maintain its presence in Taiji for the remainder of the six-month hunt season, which spans from Sept. until March. Throughout the season, volunteers from around the world are set to join Sea Shepherd on the ground as Cove Guardians.

Along with monitoring and live streaming of the drive hunt, captures and slaughters, Sea Shepherd’s 2015-2016 Operation Henkaku campaign, the organization’s sixth consecutive season of its Taiji Dolphin Defense Campaign, features an increased focus on raising awareness of the inextricable link between the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji and the international captive cetacean industry. Sea Shepherd believes that the drive hunt could not be sustained by the sale of dolphin meat for human consumption, as demand for dolphin and whale meat has sunk to an all-time low. One slaughtered dolphin produces approximately $600 USD worth of meat – but one trained captive dolphin can be sold by the hunters for as much as $250,000 USD.

For six months of each year, from Sept. 1 until March, entire family units, or pods, of dolphins and small whales are driven into the cove. Banger poles are struck 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. The members of these frightened pods will face either a lifetime of imprisonment in captivity or brutal slaughter before the eyes of their families. Killers and trainers work side-by-side to select the “prettiest” dolphins and whales for captivity, those without visible scars. The others are mercilessly stabbed with a metal spike inserted into their backs, just behind the blowhole, to sever their spine. The dolphins slowly and painfully bleed to death or drown in the blood of their family members – others may die slowly as they are tethered and dragged to the butcherhouse, where the once-living and free cetaceans are butchered and processed into meat. These inhumane killings are a blemish upon Japan, whose government refuses to sign on to many protection efforts and regulations for marine mammals, despite most of the world recognizing the need to protect these highly intelligent, self-aware and beloved animals.

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