Moral Low Ground

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Slaughter and Slavery in Taiji, Japan as Infamous Cove Runs Red with Dolphin Blood

(Photo: Campaign Whale)

(Photo: Campaign Whale)

Japanese fishermen have been trapping and slaughtering three species of dolphin in the notorious Taiji cove over the past several days.

Elizabeth Batt, a cetacean expert who covers marine mammals at Digital Journal, reports that Risso’s, striped and Pacific white-sided dolphins are being driven into the cove made infamous by the eponymous 2009 documentary film, where they are killed for their meat.

Batt places the number of dolphins corralled in the cover at upwards of 900, with around half that number killed. In the past six days, five pods of dolphins have been driven into the cove by fishermen in small boats.

Dozens of dolphins were forced to swim in the blood of their slain relatives and other pod members as they awaited the same horrific fate.

The first Pacific white-sided dolphins of the season were caught and killed beginning January 7. One dolphin, which was badly injured during the process, died and was immediately sent for butchering.

Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians, who are in Japan documenting the slaughter, described “another day of pain and suffering, another day of death, another day of greed and profit” in Taiji:

“Today in Taiji, 32-34 Striped dolphins were driven into the killing cove. The entire pod was viciously slaughtered. Mothers, Fathers and juveniles included. One by one they were murdered and forced to swim in their family members blood. The bodies were then tossed onto skiffs and transported to the Taiji butcher house. Meat buyers swarmed the Fisherman’s Union for fresh Striped dolphin flesh. 
One local buyer had their truck piled so high with dolphin meat slabs, one fresh slab of dolphin flesh fell onto the street in front of our feet as we livestreamed. The buyers laughed as they came back to pick up the piece of flesh with a hook.”

Other “luckier” dolphins were captured, bound for a life of servitude and human entertainment in marine parks around the world. Trainers worked alongside killers to subdue and medicate ill dolphins, one of which died from the shock and terror of capture. The humans kept the dolphin’s family members away and it died alone and terrified.

On Monday, heavy rains and strong winds kept the killing boats moored in port, according to the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians. 

According to, the 2012-2013 Taiji killing quota for seven different species of dolphin is 2,089 animals.

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