Monday, November 29, 2010

Improvements to the Method of Slaughter in the Dolphin Drive Hunt of Taiji, Wakayama

Below is a translation of the document that can be found in it's original format here >Improvements to the Method of Slaughter in the Dolphin Drive Hunt of Taiji, Wakayama (original Japanese report) Thank you to those who did the translation and in the spirit of mutual understanding we publish that translation below.



Traditionally during Taiji's dolphin drive hunts, spear-shaped tools were used to slaughter dolphins for consumption. However, it has come to be known that the slaughter method implemented in the Faeroe Islands, which involves severing the cervical vertebrae and its surrounding veins, takes a shorter time to kill and is safer for workers. This is a report on the implementation of the latter method.


Slaughter knife and wedge currently in use (buoy attached to knife serves as a marker when knife is dropped underwater).Between December 2000 and February 2001, nine Risso's dolphins, four striped dolphins, two spotted dolphins and one pilot whale were slaughtered by severing the spinal cord. These were compared to the time to death of one striped dolphin slaughtered by the traditional method. Death was determined by the worker when movements and breathing ceased. In December 2008, complete implementation of the method on striped dolphins was attempted. In December 2009, an attempt was made to control the bleeding by inserting a wedge into the cut.

Figure 1: Slaughter knife and wedge currently in use (buoy attached to knife serves as a marker when knife is dropped underwater).


Time to death was shortened by the severing of the spinal cord.

Figure 2 

The Process of Severing the Spinal Cord. 

Since the blade is only at the tip of the device, the cut is quite small.

The Process of Severing the Spinal Cord.  Since the blade is only at the tip of the device, the cut is quite small.  Considering that a human fist is 10cm wide, the appropriate location for the cut was one fist's length behind the blowhole for striped dolphins and spotted dolphins, one-and-a-half fists' length for Risso's dolphins, and two fists' length for large pilot whales.

Figure 3 

Relationship between body length and the location of the cut.

Relationship between body length and the location of the cutGraph:
y-axis blowhole - trailing edge of the occipital bone (cm)
x-axis length (cm)
Dark Blue dots = Risso's Dolphins (18)
Pink dots = Striped Dolphins (4)
Yellow dots = Spotted Dolphins (5)
Teal dots = Long-Fin Pilot Whales (1)



Figure 4 

Preventing strandings (left), and using a wedge to control bleeding (right)

By using vinyl sheeting on the rocky area, whales are prevented from stranding. This made it simple to guide the striped dolphins to the killing location. As a result, cutting the spine of the species could be applied fully. Also, by driving in the wedge, external bleeding from the amputated wound was controlled. Bleeding out was done 10-30 minutes after killing, during the gutting process. However, no deterioration of flesh was observed through taste-testing.


- Time spent on catching and killing can be reduced while improving safety for the workers.

- Bleeding can be controlled due to the wedge, preventing pollution of the sea surface due to blood, and reducing the potential application of using blood for industrial profit.

- The developer of the method cutting the spinal cord's has said that, by using the wedge, there is a fear that by retaining blood in the body death could be delayed. -- In the future, Faeroe Islands should review the time to death using a uniform indicator (dilation of the pupil)


Note: This is a translated version of a report written in Japanese. For the original report, visit the link below. Improvements to the Method of Slaughter in the Dolphin Drive Hunt of Taiji, Wakayama (original Japanese report) ================================================================

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Christmas Wish: May Dolphin Supporters Work Well Together in Taiji

Dear Friends:

The Taiji Dolphin Action Group is dedicated to ending the hunt in Taiji and supports all people and groups in their legal efforts towards this end.

The next month will be a very delicate time in Taiji. Groups will be coming to work full time. More about these groups will be made clear once they are on the ground.

The disagreements that occur between people, within organizations, and between organizations are inevitable. It keeps us on our toes; it keeps creativity flowing. It is not TDAG's policy to discuss these disagreements publicly or to take sides.

TDAG supports the work of SSCS in Taiji. It is my personal belief and the official TDAG position that going to Taiji as a Cove Guardian and witness to the crimes against one of the most beautiful and intelligent beings in the world is one of the most effective actions you can take.

Working on solutions to this tragedy is now ongoing for many people simply because of their connection to individuals with first hand experience of the Cove.

One of the first actions taken by SSCS members working in Taiji was to ensure that no money was spent in the town of Taiji itself. This means no hotels, no restaurants, not even drink vending machines. Great care was taken so that all Cove Guardians stay and eat in nearby communities that do not support the Taiji dolphin hunt and do not hunt dolphins themselves.

I have heard first hand from restaurant owners how glad they are that Sea Shepherd is working in Taiji. People outside of Taiji have long been opposed to the hunts but had not found a way to oppose them.

Please join me in supporting the SSCS. They are the first organization in the 35 year-old activist involvement in the dolphin hunts to take a daily stand at great personal risk opposing the dolphin hunters.

The more people to visit the Cove during the hunt, the better. The more pictures and videos the better.

The number of people willing to travel so far to bear witness in Taiji issues a strong statement of solidarity for the dolphins. When we Cove Guardians go back to our home countries, we are motivated for life to find solutions to end this horrible and unnecessary carnage.

I encourage everyone who has the resources to go to Taiji. I encourage everyone who has the resources to support SSCS and other groups working to end the dolphin hunt.

I will be returning again at the beginning of December to support SSCS and the Cove Guardians. Please join me if you can.

Steven Thompson
TDAG Co-Founder

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Even in a dream, look not upon a right whale and her calf."

Some years ago there lived a wealthy fisherman called Matsushima Tomigoro at Matsushima, in Nagasaki. He made a large fortune by whale-fishing. One night he dreamed a strange dream. A whale (zato kujira), carrying a baby whale, appeared before his pillow, and requested him to let her and the baby go safely--they were going to pass a certain part of the sea at a certain time and date. Matsushima heartlessly did not accede, but took advantage of the information. He put a net in the said sea at the due time, and caught a whale and her baby. Not long after, the cruel fisherman began to reap the harvest of his mercilessness. Misfortune after misfortune befell him, and all his wealth disappeared. 'It must be the result of his cruelty in killing the whale and its baby,' said the neighbours; and for some time they never caught whales carrying babies.

Taiji is a little town huddled against the southerly hills of the Kii peninsula, the largest peninsula of the main island of Honshu, Japan. It is a whaling town, and has been for eight hundred years or so. For a long time it has been extremely difficult to get to Taiji overland, and the Taiji people looked always to the sea for their livelihood as well as for their means of transport. Now, of course there is an efficient rail service, and a road, yet still Taiji looks out to sea, and one is never long out of sight of the broad Pacific.

Taiji has many sayings and superstitions, two of which have stuck in my mind. The first is easy to understand - "A whale on the beach means wealth for seven villages."
In the old days, the best cuts of meat were sent by ship to the Imperial Court in Kyoto, to the Shogun's Palace in Edo, to the Tokugawa castle at Wakayama, and to Lord Mizuno, Daimyo of Shingu. Meat was also sent to the busy markets of Osaka, Nagoya, and Ise. Neighboring villages also bought or traded goods for the valuable delicacy of whale meat, and still there would be enough meat left over to feed the seven hundred or so men and their families who were employed by the whaling business of Taiji when it was at its peak.
Meat, for human consumption, was the most valuable portion of the whale, but nothing was wasted. As in the West, blubber was rendered into oil, the uses of which were many indeed. Whale oil lighted the lamps of Japan too, but besides lamps, the oil was mixed with vinegar to make a highly effective pesticide for use in the rice paddies. This oil-vinegar mixture was perfectly biodegradable, and killed off only harmful pests, with no ill effects on the edible loaches and small clams that abounded in the rice paddies of Tokugawa Japan.
Oil-rich bones were sawed up and cooked. After this first cooking they were smashed into pieces by hammers and cooked again. These bones provided excellent fertilizer, and more oil. This fertilizer was of such great value that merchants came from distant parts of Japan to make bids for its purchase.
Sinews were carefully cut out from the bone and meat, and when dried they were sold to instrument makers, armor makers and so forth. The baleen (erroneously called 'whale bone' in the West) found even more uses than it did in fashion-conscious America and Europe. It was used in myriad ways, from the tips of fine fishing rods, to beautifully polished plates, and the springs that worked the mouths of the 'bunraku' puppets.
Even the entrails were cut, washed and boiled, and were used in miso soup, or broiled on charcoal. Absolutely nothing was wasted.
In Japan, where the killing of four-legged animals was forbidden by religion, the rich red meat of the whale was a prize indeed.
For a period of some three hundred years, the Taiji men hunted whales with the aid of huge rope nets, designed to entangle the whale and slow it down enough for the harpooners and lancers to kill it. In those days, their principal quarry was the right whale, the humpback whale, the grey whale and the sperm whale. The Taiji men hunted other species too, but like their American and European counterparts, they could not take the fin and blue whales.
Taiji whaling was highly ritualized. Most positions were hereditary, and the industry and hierarchy was extremely complex. Each boat of the whaling fleet was brilliantly decorated with various motifs, and banded with distinct colors so that even at a distance they could be identified. Each boat had its position and function in the fleet. The fastest and most beautiful were the high-powered 'seko-bune' or chase boats, slender vessels with their black hulls lacquered for extra speed, and manned by fifteen men. At the height of the Taiji whaling there were as many as twenty-five 'seko-bune'. Then came the heavier 'ami-bune' or net boats, whose job was to lay the double semicircle of nets in the path of the whale. The broad-beamed 'moso-bune' were used for the final securing and lancing of the stricken whale, which, once dead, would be towed to shore between two of these boats, secured by ropes under the belly and suspended from two stout beams of wood slung from boat to boat. There were also small boats which would retrieve pieces of equipment lost in the water during the hunt.
The fleet was directed from lookout points on shore, which were also in contact with the beach-master. They relayed his orders, as well as the sightings and movements of whales, by the means of various pennants, by signal sticks (a kind of semaphore), by smoke signal and by the notes of conch shell trumpets.
One signal was of great significance. The hoisting of it would means a whale sighting, but no hunt. It was a three-pennant signal, each pennant being black with a white stripe in the middle, and it signified a female right whale and her calf. I had said earlier that there are two Taiji sayings which stick in my head. The first was "a whale on the beach means wealth for seven villages" - the second sayings is "Even in a dream, look not upon a right whale and her calf." Why? Well, firstly, there is a wealth of stories in Taiji to indicate that they held the female whale, especially a pregnant or mother whale in great awe. Even the whaler's song show this. The second reason is that the whalers were fully aware that little whales needed their mothers, and would die without them, and that to kill small whales was foolish. The third reason was that a female right whale, normally a docile creature, would fight with fury if she had a calf. Besides, in the seventeenth, eighteens, and in the early part of the nineteenth century, whales were plentiful around the shores of Japan. Only inclement weather and the unfavorable shifts of the great warm current which was the highway of migrating whales had any real effect on the catch. So the Taiji whalers could afford to let a female right whale and her calf go unharmed, and it seems that they always did so. During the best period of net whaling in Taiji, they took about a hundred whales a year, enough to keep the village flourishing, but certainly not enough to make a dent in the whale population.
However, things were to change. Following reports of a merchant vessel captain who had been en route from Shanghai, the first Western whaling ships, the 'Maro' from Nantucket, and the 'Enderby' from Britain, soon filled their casks with oil. By 1822, thirty ships were whaling off Japan. By 1846, together with Russian, British, Dutch and French ships, as well as the big American whaling fleet, there were seven hundred or more vessels hunting off Japan, killing right whales, humpback whales, grey whales and sperm whales in great numbers. However, unlike the shore-based Japanese, the foreign ships had no use for meat or bones, and certainly not for entrails. They killed for oil, baleen, and what little ivory came from the sperm whales. To the Japanese, the wastage of those years is a horror story.
Whaling was big business. In 1846, the peak year of the American whaling industry, in the United States alone some 70,000 people were employed in the whaling business, and it was pressure from this business that brought about the lobbying which caused the eventual dispatch of a powerful American naval expedition to Japan, headed by Commodore Perry. This expedition, which took place in the years 1852, 1853 and 1854, was the point of the wedge which opened Japan to the rest of the world. I'd like here to quote from the official Narrative, published by order of Congress in 1846.
"Whales of several varieties abound in those parts of the ocean lying between the Bonins and the coast of Asia, and are in greater numbers in the neighborhood of Japan. Until the establishment of a treaty with that singular empire the masters of whaling vessels were cautious not to approach near to its shores, under a well-founded apprehension of falling into the hands of the Japanese, and suffering, as a consequence, imprisonment and cruel treatment. These fears should no longer exist, as the stipulations of the treaty (the Treaty of Kanagawa, the first treaty Japan ever signed with a foreign nation. Brackets mine.) make provision and offer guarantees not only for kind treatment to those Americans who may approach the coast, or be thrown by accident upon its hitherto inhospitable shores, but allow all American vessels under press of weather to enter any of its ports for temporary refitment; and the ports of Hakodadi (Hakodate) and Simoda (Shimoda) are open for all purposes of repair or supplies.
"As, therefore, the obstacles to a free navigation of the Japan seas no longer present themselves, our whaling ships may cruise in safely and without interruption as near to the shores as may be convenient, or in the seas lying more to the eastward. But to render this part of the ocean in all respects convenient to our whaling ships, something more is wanted, and that is a port of resort, which shall be in all respects free for them to enter and depart without the restraints of exclusive laws and national prejudices; for though, as before remarked, the ports of Hakodadi and Simoda, in Japan, to which we may add Napha (Naha), in great Lew Chew (Ryukyu, i.e., Okinawa), are by treaty open to American vessels, a long time may elapse before the people of those ports divest themselves of the jealousies which they have hitherto entertained against strangers, and it is well known that the crews of whaling vessels visiting the ports of the Pacific are not remarkable for their orderly behavior or conciliatory deportment."
Commodore Perry then continues to argue for the establishment of a base in the Bonins, which was quite clearly Japanese property.
However, despite Perry's remarks that the masters of whaling vessels had been cautious not to approach near to the coasts of Japan, by the time the black ships of his squadron had bullied their way into the ports of Naha and Shimoda, and into Edo bay, there had been thirty or so years of intensive whaling off the coast of Japan by foreign vessels, eager to brave storms and typhoons for the riches of the seas. The Kanagawa Treaty made things easier for them, but already the whales, especially the slow-moving and valuable right whales, were in decline.
In Taiji, a village whose only wealth came from the sea, things were getting hard. There were no rice paddies, and precious little ground suitable for yams and vegetables.
The coming of the foreigners brought a wake of strife, assassinations and civil war. The government of the Shogun was overthrown and the Emperor Meiji reinstated as the head of government. It became harder and harder to take the big whales, and the smaller cetacea, like the black pilot whales, gained in importance as a food source, although their meat did not fetch as a good price as that of the larger animals. The great prosperous era of net whaling was drawing to an end. But the worst was yet to come.
As the year of 1878 dragged into winter the beach-master or 'ami-moto' was getting desperate. At that time there were two hereditary leaders in Taiji. One was Taiji Kakuemon, who ran the business operations, and the other was his relative, Wada Kinemon, the advisory head. On December 24, 1878, after a bleak, poverty-ridden period of poor catches, a big female right whale and her calf were spotted by the lookouts. The triple black and white pennant was raised and the whalers momentarily relaxed, for the whalers knew that a female and her calf were not to be hunted. It was late afternoon, and for a successful hunt, a whale would have to be killed and secured before nightfall.
At the beach in front of the shrine of Asuka, the two leaders argued. Kakuemon insisted that the village needed a whale, and needed one before the New Year. Kinemon said no, it was not their custom to hunt a female with calf, and that it drew late, that bad things would befall them if they broke this rule.
Nevertheless, Kakuemon gave the order to hunt, and as the red signals went up and the conches blew from the lookouts, the surprised whalers jumped to their long sculling oars and the gaudy, sleek boats darted forward. The whale was enmeshed and harpooned, but she fought with great fury, and dragged the boats out to sea. Cold winds were blowing from the shore and the men became cold and exhausted. It got dark. By morning the fleet was scattered, and no matter how hard the men in the boats attempting to tow the whale struggled at their oars, the winds, current, cold and the sheer size of the whale was too much for them. Finally, in tears, they cut the whale loose. The storm grew worse.
Within a few days, the cream of the Taiji whalers, and the best of their boats, had been swept far out to sea and had died from exposure or drowning. Some drifted as far as the seven islands of Izu. Estimates of the death roll vary from 111 to 130 men killed. Only a handful survived.
Taiji Kakuemon, in his grief, gave his entire family estate to the bereaved families, and eventually left Taiji for good. The village was plunged into an awful depression, and many young men left for foreign shores, for Hawaii, California, Canada, Mexico. Many of the dances, skills and sea lore of the whalers died with those men who chased the taboo female, and although there were attempts over the next two decades to rebuild the net whaling fleet, they had small success.
C.W. Nicol
February 1979
Taiji, Japan

Friday, November 12, 2010

IMATA & Taiji & Whaling ~ Oh My!!!

IMATA is the Institute of Marine Mammal Trainers Association who in a knee jerk reaction published on their FaceBook page the following statement

"The International Marine Animal Trainers Association (IMATA) takes a strong position on the Japanese drive fisheries, which are debated frequently internationally. In early 2006, IMATA issued its position, which condemns the inhumane killing of dolphins and other cetaceans in the Japanese drive fisheries."

TDAG questions the use of the wording "strong position" as upon examining the attendees at IMATA's upcoming conference are indeed a number of institutions that through their purchasing of dolphins from Taiji and Futo's drive-fisheries have been one of the biggest factors contributing to the continuance of this horrible practice most notable of those who will be attending this years IMATA conference in Boston are employees of the following

  1. Suma Aqualife Park In Kobe, Japan: This aquarium bought dolphins from Taiji this year and was observed doing so by witnesses (
  2. Enoshima Aquarium Marineland: Has dolphins from Taiji's drive hunts as well as Futo as if that wasn't enough Enoshima also has had and lost Orcas caught in the wild off Iceland
  3. Awashima Marine Park: Has purchased dolphins from the notorious Futo dolphin drive hunts
An organizational member of IMATA is the Shimonoseki Marine Science Museum who are situated in the home port of the Japanese Antarctic Whaling Fleet.  Note the word Science in the Museum's name and then consider that each year out of Shimonoseki's port sails the "Scientific"Whaling Fleet and tell me what you deduce? Great partner you chose there IMATA!

If you truly stood against the drive, you would not be hosting these institutions.Obtaining dolphins from locations using dolphin drives DIRECTLY funds and supports the mass slaughter of Dolphins. The market for dolphin meat is small, so the drive fishery could not survive financially if it were not for the live capture and trade of dolphins. As recently as October, the SumaAquatic Park received Dolphins from the 2010 Taiji Dolphin hunts. As the public becomes more aware and informed of the dolphin drive practices, the fisherman, aquatic facilities and associations who have helped to support the slaughter or turned a blind eye to the fisherman’s actions will be held equally responsible.Your statement against the dolphin fishery drive will only be words on a page unless you take serious action against your member organizations that take live dolphins from the wild.

Footnote : IMATA's Code of Ethics

As members of IMATA, each of us is committed to:
I.    Exercising the highest levels of respect and humaneness for all animals;

II.   Exercising professional integrity in representing ourselves as members of the marine animal community, as representatives of the facilities we serve, or as members of this Association;

III.  Fostering respect, understanding, and cooperation among fellow members and others associated with the zoological community in general and the marine animal community in particular; and

IV.  Contributing to the promotion of public and professional interest in IMATA and accepting the obligations of membership as required to the best of our abilities.

Contact IMATA

International Marine Animal Trainers' Association
1200 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60605-2490
Phone: (312) 692-3193
Fax: (312) 939-2216

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Who Do They Kill and How Many?

 Taiji in 08-09 had a total quota of 2,393 dolphins, we do not know the actual numbers taken but here is a break down of the types of dolphins killed there.

Pacific White-Sided Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens)

2008-09 Quota = 134

Pacific white-sided dolphins are extremely playful and highly social animals. Schools of thousands of Pacific white-sided dolphins are occasionally observed, but group size generally ranges from 10-100 animals. They are often observed "bow riding" and doing acrobatic somersaults. This species commonly associates with other cetaceans, such as Northern right whale dolphins and Risso's dolphins.
They prey on squid and small schooling fish such as capelin, sardines, and herring. This species is capable of diving more than 6 minutes to feed. They have small conical teeth that are helpful in grasping their prey. When feeding during the day, they can be seen working together as a group to herd schools of fish.
Pacific white-sided dolphins reach sexual maturity around 7-10 years of age around lengths of 5.5-6 ft (1.7-1.8 m). Gestation lasts for 12 months with calves being born in the summer months. Calves weigh approximately 30 pounds (15 kg) and are about 2.5-4 feet (1-1.2 m) in length. Females give birth less than every other year.

Striped Dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba)

 2008-09 Quota = 450

Striped dolphins are usually found in tight, cohesive groups averaging between 25 and 100 individuals, but have been occasionally seen in larger groups of up to several hundred and even thousands of animals. Within these schools there is a complex system of individuals that may be organized by age, sex, and breeding status. They rarely associate with other species of whales, dolphins, and seabirds. Their surface behavior is often characterized as sociable, athletic, energetic, active, and nimble with rapid swimming. They can often be observed breaching, "roto-tailing" (a circular motion using the tail while jumping out of the water), jumping, and leaping up over 20 ft (7 m) above the surface of the water.

Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

 2008-09 Quota = 795

Bottlenose dolphins are commonly found in groups of 2 to 15 individuals. Offshore herds sometimes have several hundred individuals. This species is often associated with pilot whales and other cetacean species.
Bottlenose dolphins are generalists and feed on a variety of prey items "endemic" to their habitat, foraging individually and cooperatively. Like other dolphins, bottlenose dolphins use high frequency echolocation to locate and capture prey. Coastal animals prey on "benthic" invertebrates and fish, and offshore animals feed on pelagic squid and fish. Bottlenose dolphins employ multiple feeding strategies, including "fish whacking," where they strike a fish with their flukes and knock it out of the water.

Spotted Dolphin (Stenella attenuata)

2008-09 Quota = 400

Like other dolphins of the genus Stenella, these are relatively small dolphins, reaching lengths of 6 to 7 feet (2 m) and weighing approximately 250 pounds (114 kg) at adulthood. They have long, slender snouts or beaks. Like the Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis), pantropical spotted dolphins are without spots when born, accumulating them as they age until they are almost completely covered with overlapping patterns. Pan-tropical spotted dolphins are also distinguished by a dark "cape" or coloration on their backs stretching from their head to almost mid-way between the dorsal fin and the tail flukes and by a white-tipped beak.

Risso's Dolphin (Grampus griseus)

2008-09 Quota = 290

Risso's dolphins, sometimes called "gray dolphins," have a robust body with a narrow tailstock. These medium sized cetaceans can reach lengths of approximately 8.5-13 feet (2.6-4 m) and weigh 660-1,100 pounds (300-500 kg). Males and females are usually about the same size. They have a bulbous head with a vertical crease, and an indistinguishable beak. They have a tall, "falcate", sickle-shaped dorsal fin located mid-way down the back. Calves have a dark cape and saddle, with little or no scarring on their body. As Risso's dolphins age, their coloration lightens from black, dark gray or brown to pale gray or almost white. Their bodies are usually heavily scarred, with scratches from teeth raking between dolphins, as well as circular markings from their prey (e.g., squid), cookie-cutter sharks (Isistius brasiliensis), and lampreys. Mature adults swimming just under the water's surface appear white. 

Short-finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus)

2008-09 Quota = 254

Short-finned pilot whales are larger members of the dolphin group reaching average lengths of 12 feet (3.7 m) for females and 18 feet (5.5 m) for males with maximum male size of 24 feet (7.3 m). Adult weight is 2200 to 6600 pounds (1000 to 3000 kg).
They have a bulbous melon head with no discernable beak. Their dorsal fin is located far forward on the body and has a relatively long base. Body color is black or dark brown with a large gray saddle behind the dorsal fin.
They are polygynous (males have more than one mate) and are often found in groups with a ratio of one mature male to about every eight mature females. Males generally leave their birth school, while females may remain in theirs for their entire lifetime.

False Killer Whale (Pseudorca crassidens)

2008-09 Quota = 70
These whales are gregarious and form strong social bonds. They are usually found in groups of ten to twenty that belong to much larger groups of up to 40 individuals in Hawai'i and 100 individuals elsewhere. They are known to "strand" in large groups as well. False killers are also found with other cetaceans, most notably bottlenose dolphins. To increase success of finding prey, these whales travel in a broad band that can be up to several miles wide.
Food sharing has been documented between individual false killer whales. They feed during the day and at night on fishes and cephalopods, and they are known to attack smaller dolphins that are involved in the tuna purse-seine fishery in the Pacific Ocean.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Large Pod Trapped in The Cove

Taiji Update Thursday Nov 4, 2010 14:20 JST: We have 18 hours

SSCS Scott West reports that A large pod is now trapped in the Cove. Slaughter is typically scheduled at dawn the next day. This would be about 18 hours from now.

On the phone with Michael Bailey at the Cove, a moment ago: he reports 40-50 smaller bottlenosed/stripped/spotted looking dolphins very agitated, splashing their flukes.

Michael states that the aquarium industry funds the killing through their payment for show dolphins. Michael recommends continuing to look for ways to get through to Japanese people to stop this.

Please demand that the babies and pregnant females and nursing mothers be released like last time, when six juveniles were released on Oct 11th. After this release, for the next two consecutive hunts, both pods initially captured managed to escape.

The principal people from the Nov 2nd Taiji Meeting are all still in Taiji. The Sea Shepherd Campaign in Taiji is committed to applying internal pressure at the Cove and external pressure through consulates and embassies. Whaleman Foundation is committed to ending the hunt from by working within Japan. Please support them.

TDAG is committed to encourage consulate and embassy discussions and demonstrations and protests. We recommend finding solutions by engaging Japanese people. We recommend experimentation. No group or individual has yet found THE way to end this.

With the hunters on October 10th, our demand to save baby dolphins and their mothers got under their skin. Several hunters reacted vocally that, "they don't kill baby dolphins". Yet they did, for the world to see in pictures, on Oct 27th. This is their weak point. Use it!

The Taiji dophin hunters are killing in an unsustainable way, all dolphins except the ones they sell as captives to aquariums, are being killed.

Please mention baby "iruka" (dophins) in your messages. This is the one argument that has legs in Japan. This is one of the few approaches that gets Japanese people thinking.

In the world of civilized nations, no wild animals are being eradicated like the dolphins are being slaughtered in Japan. Even fish have size restrictions. Even during deer hunting season, it is not acceptable to kill baby "bambi" fawns.

Let us start by demanding the protection of pregnant females and their young. And all the while, let's continue to fight like hell to to save all dolphins.

Thank you to the Cove Guardians now in Taiji!

At least may we save the babies and their mothers!

Steven Thompson

TDAG Co-Founder 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Taiji Nov 2nd Meeting

Dear Friends:

I was party to the Taiji Nov 2, 2010 meeting organization. I feel that sharing my
understanding this process will help more people be able to take responsibility to
help end the dolphin hunt in Japan.

The meeting between Taiji officials and Sea Shepherd was set up by Atsushi Nakahira,
of the Nihon Yonaoshikai in mid-October. After this, Save Japan Dolphins and The
Whaleman Foundation requested to attend. Nakahira accepted their request.

Nakahira runs a very small Japanese group (last week: only 2 members) dedicated to a
better Japan. It may SOUND right-wingish but the devil in the details shows that he
is as critical of dolphin activists as he is critical of Mayor Sangen.

In a very vocal, drive-my-truck-around-with-loud-speakers-blaring way, Nakahira is
critical of Mayor Sangen and Wakayama Gov. Nisaka for NOT engaging SSCS or SJD. At
least, he says, the two sides should talk to make their positions clear. Last time
SSCS when into Sangen's office building, Sangen was seen slipping out the back and
speeding away in his Mazda. He took public flak for this among Taiji residents.
Atsushi Nakahira
  and Steven Thompson in Taiji Oct 2010 -photo by Elora West

I have spoken at length with Nakahira many times. Several times in the last week and
three mornings ago, he woke me up at 6:45am, worried that people on "our side" (the
dolphin side) were not being upfront.

He told me that here were only two rules for the Nov 2 meeting. The first was for up
to three questions to be submitted in advance in English and Japanese. This, I
understand was done by SJD and SSCS. By the way, this was not done by Whaleman for strategic reasons and it wasn't actually a problem.

The second rule was that the principals: SSCS, SJD and Whaleman, to not record the
meeting, but let the news companies cover it. Talking at the Cove on October 10th,
Nakahira stated to me that he did not want this meeting to turn into a made for TV
special with activists dramatizing on purpose.

Whaleman agreed to these terms, and so did SSCS, I understand. I explained these
terms to them at Nakahira's request. I explained this message from Nakahira to Ric's
translator by telephone last week.

Nakahira states that he is pro-whale hunt, but clearly, he is not your typical
status quo reactionary.

For example, what he has against The Cove is that it shows Japanese kids eating
whale meat at school when these kids did not agree to be in his movie about
dolphins. This, Nakahira argues, is an invasion or their privacy.  I don't know the background story. Louie would have to chime in, but Nakahira's point of view seems reasonable...especially reasonable from a Japanese point of view.

Another example of Nakahira's agenda: he is against the baby dolphin and pregnant female hunt. He is for ending it immediately and for the eventual drawdown of the hunt within 5 years.
This too is reasonable in my estimation...not acceptable to me because the deaths
continue...and I will protest in their faces until it stops...but reasonable from a
Japanese point of view when we consider this has been going on for a long time...the
political pressures are intense...this is a step in the right direction, I feel.

Nakahira isn't going away nor is Mayor Sangen anytime soon. Talking together with
Japanese in positions to make a difference is the only way to end this. I talk with
the union head, Sugimori, responsible for carrying out this horror, every time I go
to Taiji. I believe we should keep talking.

I believe we should not lose sight of the fact that the catalyst for this meeting is
the fact that SSCS has stood up to be in Taiji on the beach everyday. This is one of
our strongest pressure points. No meeting would have happened at all had SSCS NOT been there.

I support experimentation in our activism till we find a way closer to end the hunt.

I support transparency in our activism.

For us and the Cetaceans,
Steven Thompson
TDAG Co-Founder