Taiji ‘Fishermen’ Caught Killing 15 Pilot Whales In Dolphin Slaughter Cove

TAIJI, JAPAN – The first victims of the slaughter are not dolphins, but 15 pilot whales that aquarium and marine park trainers rejected. Aware of the spotlight on their brutality, the ‘fishermen’ denied – then struggled to cover up – the whale killings. Sadly, it’s butchering business as usual in the killing cove, except they’re casting a wider blood-soaked net. – Global Animal

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Scott West. September 21, 2010.

Approximately 15 pilot whales were killed in the cove this morning in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan.

At first light, a boat took the dolphin trainers from the public beach over to where the whales were being held in the killing cove.  (To read the back story of the pilot whales capture, click here.) They were not gone long before they returned and left the area in their cars. Apparently, none of the whales were suitable for the live trade. Perhaps they were too beat up from having been held in the shallow killing cove. The story that the live dolphin/whale trade associations and aquariums around the world tell that they are not involved in the killing was proven a lie this morning.

Shortly after the trainers left, the “fishermen” moved in. Their callous efficiency denies their claims that there is reverence among them for the dolphin and whale. It was soon over and the nets came down. Then small boats exited the cove with their dead cargo carefully hidden from view under tarps. The boats went out of sight around the corner and soon the police and others left the area. We lingered and then discovered that from a different vantage point we could see a barge just outside the cove that was wrapped in tarps. This is where the whales had been taken. The dead whales were pulled off the barge by a dolphin hunter boat using ropes tied around their tails. Three times the hunter boat pulled about 5 whales off the barge and transported them around to the butcher house in Taiji Harbor.

At the butcher house, the large doors were open and activity on the seafood side was occurring in plain sight for all to see. No shame there. This was not the case though on the side where the whales were being taken. The doors on this side were tightly closed and a huge orange tarp was hung to hide the activities there from public view. When the hunter boat brought its last cargo of dead whales to the butcher house, Sea Shepherd was there to record the delivery. Even here, the “fishermen” attempted to hide their victims’ bodies from our view. They covered them with a tarp as they were dragged out of the water and up concrete steps into the house under a nearly closed roll up door. The door quickly came down.

Why are these men taking such drastic precautions to hide their activities from us and therefore from the world? If they are proud of their profession and their so-called “culture” then why hide their acts? No, it is shameful what they do and they know it. They are visibly angry with us for exposing their lie.

I became angry too after witnessing this morning’s events. I was angry at my own inability to stop this. I spent my professional life as a federal agent (criminal law enforcement in the United States) and I had always been able to interv

ene to stop criminal behavior. The only solace I have is that by daring to be here and daring to expose the shameful lie, perhaps the world will remember what happens here and bring pressure to end it. Just a handful of men in Taiji participate in this activity and yet the whole town is stained by their crimes. Taiji is a very small coastal town in rural Japan and yet the entire nation of Japan is stained by the crimes these men commit.

I left angry at this nation and its people. How dare they ignore these crimes? For a short while, I hated all Japanese.

An hour or so after the events at the cove, I was walking through the nearby town of Katsuura and I saw the young woman from the bakery. She smiled at recognizing me and offered me a happy and cheerful greeting. I tried to hang onto it, but my hatred melted. It is not the Japanese I hate. I hate the actions of a handful of men and the willful blindness of the population. I encourage the Japanese people to open their eyes in order that they may see how most of the world views the actions of these few men in Taiji. It is up to the world to let the Japanese know how they are viewed because of these few men in Taiji.

There is an international day of protest on October 14, 2010, where you will have an opportunity to let the Japanese government know how you feel. http://www.savejapandolphins.org/blog.html

Sea Shepherd organized the first couple of these protests. See http://www.seashepherd.org/dolphins/worldwide-protest.html

We need your help. Spread the word, send donations, join in the protest, and if you can, come join us here in Taiji. To join us (voluntarily, and completely at your own cost and risk) in Taiji, write to me at [email protected] I will get back to you, but please be patient. I cannot keep an eye on the Cove and answer email at the same time.

For the Oceans,

Scott West
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society




  1. i watched the cove and it breaks my heart seeing this tame creature dying in the cove and i just now when i realized that we really need to take action for this matters… i am a sea woman and every ctuise we take i’ve seen a hundred of dolphins jumping in the wild…please let me know how can i help to give information to the people who are cruising and just cannot wait to reach mexico to watch, swim, kiss to all those poor dolphin in their excursion in dolphinarium.

    thanks you