By Kirsten Massebeau

A mega pod of dolphins that included a rare albino dolphin calf gained worldwide attention on January 17, 2014 as they were driven into the infamous cove in Taiji, Japan. Using a painful technique called oikomi, once the hunters locate a pod, in this case bottlenose dolphins, they create a semi-circle. They then drop steel pipes with fluted bottoms into the water. Together each boat bangs on the poles with hammers creating a painful wall of sound. On January 17th the bottlenose dolphins in a race for their lives were inevitably pushed into the cove section by section, and netted off for the captive process that would begin the following day.

The grueling process of selection for WAZA members facilities by SSCS Cove Guardians January

The grueling process of selection for WAZA members facilities by SSCS Cove Guardians January 20, 2014 Taiji

For four days the dolphins were pushed into the shallows of Hatakejiri Bay. Using the blast of engines and hunters in dive suits, each section of the pod was manhandled, many injured, as they were pushed onto the shore of the killing cove where dolphin trainers, many working for the one of local dolphin brokers the Taiji Whale Museum, a World Association of zoos and Aquariums (WAZA)  member, and Dolphin Base another broker, were waiting to inspect the younger dolphins for sale to aquariums, marine parks and dolphinariums worldwide.

The first taken was the rare albino baby who was literally ripped from its mothers side. For four days the mega pod remained in the cove as trainers took the young from their parents marking the unwanted with a white stripe that would later mean slaughter or a drive back out to sea. As the days of captive selection continued the dolphin suffering escalated as the dolphins became weaker, wounded, and more panicked.

The hunters ran over the dolphins again and again as they pushed the dolphins under the tarps using the blades and roar of the outboard motors to manipulate their victims.

Dolphins panicked, and began to lose the will to live as days went by. While the dolphin drives have been an annual event since 1969, and had been exposed most recently in the 2009 release of the documentary The Cove it has continued. This drive though, would draw worldwide attention.

The news of this huge bottlenose round-up coursed through media outlets worldwide sparking global outrage. US Ambassador Carolyn Kennedy came forward expressing deep concern about the Taiji dolphin hunts(source). Yoko Ono came forward publishing a letter to the ISANA “Fisherman’s” Union imploring them to end the hunt (source) While many important people came forward the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) remained silent as the bottlenose dolphins being manhandled and selected for captivity in the cove would be bought, and sold by and to their members.

“In a recent interview Ric O’Barry film star and creator of the Academy Award winning documentary The Cove that exposed the Taiji dolphin capture and slaughter had this to say: “The number of dolphins caught last year for captivity was tremendous: about 250. The season before, only 50 dolphins were captured for captivity”.(Source)

“This claim of ‘Japanese tradition’ is nonsense,” stated Ric O’Barry, Director of Earth Island’s Dolphin Project.  “The dolphin drive hunts, according to the town’s own written history, says a couple of drive hunts occurred in 1936 and 1944, but the current series of hunts only began in 1969.”(source)

What you can do to help?




Friday, January 24, 2014

10:00pm in UTC

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Albino Bottlenose Dolphin Captured In The Cove Brings WorldWide Attention To WAZA’s Partnership with JAZA’s Taiji Drive Fisheries

By Kirsten Massebeau

A rare albino dolphin ripped from it’s mothers side has brought worldwide attention to the cruel dolphin drives that continue to take place off the coast of Japan in the town of Taiji. The ISANA Fisherman’s Union a small group of dolphin hunters are given a yearly quota for drive fisheries. The quota for bottlenose dolphins in the 2013/2014 season is 577. Prior to this drive of 250 plus bottlenose dolphins the dolphin hunters had already taken 71 for aquariums, releasing 160 for next year, and slaughtering 87 for fertilizer (Source)

In her article “A Japanese Plea for Help“, Leah gives dolphin supporters ways take action and publishes an open letter that was sent to Doctor Gerald Dick, Executive Director of Worlds Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) on January 17, 2014. An excerpt from the letter:

“In fact, the history of dolphin hunting in Taiji is short. According to “The History of Taiji,” edited and published by Taiji town in 1979, the first recorded dolphin drive was in 1933, with subsequent hunts occurring in 1936 and 1944. It was not until 1969 that dolphin drives have been conducted on a large scale. The history of the dolphin drives spans not so-called 400 years, but a mere 45. Furthermore, in 1969, the main goal of the dolphin drive was to capture pilot whales as prized showpieces for the Taiji Whale Museum. In other words, the dolphin drive was purely for profit, having nothing to do with cultural history. Since 1969 a close relationship began building between the drive hunt and aquaria as financial activities”.(Source)

. In 2010, WAZA made it clear that they supported, and were working with Taiji drive fisheries calling the capture and slaughter a transitional approach. (Source)

“Considering WAZA’s Code of Ethics, we believe that even culture and long history should not be acceptable reasons to inflict pain and agony on wild animals. Though you replied that “WAZA member facilities place animal welfare at the forefront of all animal acquisitions,” JAZA still allows its members to acquire dolphins from extremely cruel drive hunts, and, as we wrote you in previous petition, the number of dolphins caught using these unethical capture methods has only been increasing”.(Source)

In a statement issued at the beginning of the dolphin drive season 2013 WAZA  seems to try and distance themselves from the dolphin suffering in “The Cove” yet have such a close relationship with their Japanese regional Association, the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) who openly work with drive fisheries to obtain dolphins for aquariums and marine parks worldwide. Ironically JAZA, a supporter of the capture and slaughter in The Cove is on WAZA’s Animal Welfare Committee.

Who could stop this? According to Ric O’Barry of the Dolphin Project, WAZA and JAZA have the power:

“A member of JAZA is the notorious Taiji Whale Museum.  Dr. Dick and WAZA meanwhile have a policy statement on their website which is an excellent example of obfuscation, denial, and finger-pointing, in very polite language, to avoid the reality that JAZA member aquariums and other WAZA member aquariums subsidize the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji by buying live-caught wild dolphins from the dolphin killers at an outrageous price.

WAZA’s “inaction” seems clearly in conflict which their own mission statement which emphasizes conservation and sustainability.(Source)

What can you do? Sign the petition demanding the Taiji Whale Museum: Release the baby albino dolphin back into the ocean HERE

Follow this link to the ongoing event to help dolphins, and join the event demanding WAZA, JAZA, IMATA and the entire captive industry put an end to the cruel capture of dolphins that continues today in Taiji, Japan!

Champions for Cetaceans will be updating with the final heartbreaking results at the end of the capture and slaughter of the 200 plus pod still awaiting their final fate in The Cove!

Come join us on:

Facebook at Champions for Cetaceans and Save The Blood Dolphins for current drive updates on Facebook and I love Dolphins for updates and dolphin news

Follow The Ric O’Barry Dolphin Project on Facebook and Twitter and the Sea Shepherds Cove Guardians on Twitter, Facebook, and Livestream

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Bottlenose Dolphins Dying for SeaWorld, IMATA and WAZA in The Cove

By Kirsten Massebeau

The 2013-2014 dolphin drive and slaughter in Taiji, Japan has never been more obviously supported by the captive industry than this year and last. The bottlenose dolphin prized by SeaWorld’s and marine parks worldwide are one of the species that demonstrates the enticing golden hand of captivity as it reaches out to the dolphin hunters sponsoring and encouraging them to capture more dolphins for the ever growing industry. During the current dolphin drive hunting season the ISANA Fisherman’s Union, the dolphin hunters, have had great luck driving in several pods of bottlenose dolphins. For each trained dolphin they can get upwards 175,000 dollars while a dead dolphin will only bring about 400-700 dollars for its meat, less depending on species. The bottlenose are most often used in fertilizer. 

Bottlenose dolphins captured and killed in drive season 2013-2014:

319 bottlenose dolphins have been driven into the cove. 71 bottlenose dolphins have been taken for aquariums while 87 were slaughtered. 160 have been released. The ISANA Union must occasionally release remaining pods if they want their supply to last.(Source)

A Taiji Dolphin at the Dubai Dolphinarium 2012

A Taiji Dolphin at the Dubai Dolphinarium 2012

In a recent interview Ric O’Barry film star and creator of the Academy Award winning documentary The Cove that exposed the Taiji dolphin capture and slaughter had this to say: “The number of dolphins caught last year for captivity was tremendous: about 250. The season before, only 50 dolphins were captured for captivity”.(Source) While SeaWorld would have you think they have no connection to Taiji the absolute opposite is in fact true. In the early 1980’s SeaWorld began buying dolphins from the Iki Island dolphin drives and then moved onto Taiji, drive fisheries. (source)

The captive industry keeps the dolphin drive alive. The meat is toxic for human consumption and in truth the population that eat and use dolphin in Japan is small but as long as the captive industry needs new blood to stock their aquariums the terrible abuse, and slaughter will continue.

The captive industry claims to oppose drive fisheries yet the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) rationalize and reap the benefits of the cruel dolphin drives as does the International Marine Animal Trainers Association (IMATA):

Any individual who believes in IMATA’s mission and who supports its goals is welcomed into the membership. This includes extending membership to individuals who work for organizations that acquire dolphins from a drive fishery. A caregiver is welcomed by IMATA even if s/he participates in the selection and collection of live animals on the premise that those animals will benefit as s/he is exposed to the most current best practices in animal care and training. (source)

How can you help? Don’t buy a ticket to a dolphin show or swim with dolphins. Join the ongoing event pressuring WAZA and IMATA to end their long relationship with Taiji drive fisheries HERE. It’s time to end the aquatic circus model created by SeaWorld and accept the fact that dolphins belong in the oceans with their families.

Taiji’s First Drive Hunt Plunders Bottlenose Dolphins for Marine Parks: The WAZA Agreement

By Kirsten Massebeau

Hunters and trainers select bottlenose dolphins for captivity at The Cove

Hunters and trainers select bottlenose dolphins for captivity at The Cove Via Ric O’Barry Dolphin Project Livestream

Never has it been more clear that the captive industry is keeping the cruel and horrific dolphin drive alive in Taiji, Japan. On September 1st the dolphin drive season opened for a small group of men and their associate trainers from the dolphin brokering Taiji Whale Museum, and Dolphin Base in Taiji, Japan. The hunters drove a pod of approximately 60 bottlenose dolphins into the cove. After leaving the frantic dolphins overnight the captive selection process began. At the end of the day 18 young dolphins, mere children, were ripped from their families and taken to the harbor pens in preparation for a life of captivity. The remaining dolphins were then released. There was no slaughter because of an agreement with WAZA and the captive industry:

While the Ric O’Barry Dolphin Project and over 100 Japanese and foreign activists demonstrated on the shores of the Cove in support of the dolphins on September 1st, the opposing right-wing had a whale meat BBQ on the opposite shoreline broadcasting Hawaiian Luau music, and touting tradition. The Right Wingers put on a good show for this first dolphin drive but in fact it had nothing to do with eating dolphin meat but rather fulfilling the orders for display dolphins placed by aquariums and marine parks from all over the world.

Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project and the Japanese Group  Flipper Japan September 1, 2013

Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project and the Japanese Group Flipper Japan: Japan Dolphins Day September 1, 2013 at “The Cove” Via Livestream

In her recent article, Hawaii’s Captive Dolphins Are Linked to the Taiji, Japan Brutal Captures, Candace Calloway Whiting highlights the role of Jay Sweeney DMV a collector and captor of dolphins for display. The presence of the captive industry in Taiji is well documented:

“It seems gruesome that one of the founding partners of Dolphin Quest (swim-with-dolphins facilities located in Hawaii and Bermuda), Dr. Jay Sweeney DVM, now spends his days carving dolphins out of wood, as he stood by while dolphins were carved up in Taiji. His direct involvement with the removal of dolphins and small whales from Japan to amusement parks in the U.S. is irrefutable.

This is fully documented in the film A Fall From Freedom, a clip of which is below. Sweeney continues to profit from the dolphins at Hilton Waikoloa Village and Kahala Mandarin Hotel, where people fork out huge funds to swim with the dolphins” (source)

Find a list of Jay Sweeney DMV’s captures of dolphins obtained through drive fisheries in Japan here.

The dolphin hunters and dolphin brokers of Taiji claim hunting dolphins is their right and their tradition:

“The southern part of Wakayama prefecture has little arable land with many precipitous mountains. Because of this, it has been natural for the local residents to take whales and dolphins which come close to the coast, and utilize them as food. In Japan, we utilize all parts of whales for various purposes not only as food but also as materials to make craft products. Since its beginning, the substance of our whaling has been different from that of other countries which, until petroleum came into use, killed an enormous number of whales for the sole purpose of obtaining whale oil, throwing the meat away into the ocean”(source).

In looking at all the evidence it seems while slaughter, and the meat maybe the byproduct the very non traditional capture of dolphins for modern marine parks and aquariums is not tradition. The only way to end the slaughter is to stop the show, stop the real exploiters those paying $150,000 dollars for a trained disposable dolphin from Taiji drive fisheries.

Be part of the solution!

TELL IMATA (International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association) & WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums) TO $TOP $UPPORTING THE $LAUGHTER IN TAIJI !!

Watch your Cove Monitors and Cove Guardians as they report from the cove daily as the drive season continues. Together we can make a difference! Be a voice for the dolphins!

Help Dolphins on Ocean Day! Support European Dolphin Demonstration for Freedom

By Kirsten Massebeau

Ocean day is a day to celebrate our oceans, understand more about them, and take action to help the very bodies of water that give our world life. Part of the amazing underwater world of the oceans are the inhabitants which include dolphins. Highly intelligent with brains as large as mans dolphins remain at the top of the food chain in the ocean. They can easily be categorized as the people of the sea. Dolphin families stay together for a lifetime living in socially complex societies. They recognize themselves in the mirror, and call each other by name. Many scientists today believe that cetaceans deserve status as non-human persons: “They believe dolphins – and their whale cousins – are sufficiently intelligent and self-aware to justify the same ethical considerations given to humans. Recognizing cetaceans’ rights would mean an end to whaling and the captivity of dolphins and whales, or their use in entertainment “. (source).

Bruges Dolphinarium by Frederich Clemente

Bruges Dolphinarium by Frederich Clemente

Sadly despite the scientific data that deems dolphins unsuitable for captivity the practice continues. Bruges Dolphinarium in Europe is just one example of the terrible dolphin suffering that takes place in Europe and worldwide. Trapped in cement tanks filled with chlorinated water dolphins are forced to spend their lives in suffering for human entertainment, forced to perform tricks for dead fish something that would have never been part of their diet in the wild. In 2005 Toni Frohoff, Ph.D. prepared a report entitled, Report on Observations and Preliminary Assessment at Boudewijn Seapark Dolphinarium in Brugges, Belgium:

Bruges dolfinarium is considered as “substandard”. The fate of our 6 dolphins (more than 30 died Under the Dark Dome) is a good example of cruelty, as Morgan is a good example of commercial cynism of Industry. Dr Toni Frohoff said : “The facility itself appears to be sub-standard compared to many facilities around the world that a) provide a more naturalistic environment for dolphins and b) adhere to international governmental regulations This is especially notable due to the extreme noise and reverberation that is characteristic of an indoor facility (and in particular this one that plays such loud music and encourages loud sounds from the audience as well). In fact, this was the loudest facility of the many that I have visited – and in my opinion, is completely unacceptable and constitutes cruelty to these animals who are well-known for their exquisitely sensitive hearing. Further, the ambient and reverberating noises of the indoor facility pumps and maintenance systems may produce continuous noise from which the dolphins cannot escape” (source)

Many died in the nets as the capture process continued.  By SSCS Cove Guardians December 13th, 2012

Many died in the nets as the capture process continued. Those dolphins unwanted for captivity were  slaughtered for pet food and human consumption.
By SSCS Cove Guardians December 13th, 2012

According to Born Free these facilities breeding pools are unsustainable which will force dolphinariums to purchase wild dolphins: “The captive population is unsustainable. Captures of wild dolphins for captivity still goes on in some parts of the world. The danger remains that if the number of dolphinaria in the EU remains the same or increases that attempts may be made by dolphinaria to import further wild-caught dolphins into the EU which contradicts EU law, too” (source)

Long-time activists Yvon Godfroid and Annelies Mullens have been fighting on the European front for dolphins for many years and they need our help. On June 28, 2013 Yvon Godfroid, Annelies Mullens, Ric O’Barry and many other dolphin advocates are demonstrating in Brussels demanding all Dolphinariums be closed. To make this effort a success every dollar counts. No matter where you live you can be a part of this big day for dolphins. A small contribution will help to bring Ric O’Barry to the event, and bring media to the forefront on this very special day for the all  the captive dolphins imprisoned in Europe and worldwide.

According to the experts the captive facilities in Europe are in direct conflict with the European Council:

“The European Council Directive 1999/22/EC on the keeping of wild animals in zoos requires that  animals must be  kept in conditions that meet their biological and conservation requirements. Yet in the case of cetaceans, it is impossible for these requirements to be met in captivity. Because no tanks, no lagoons as big as they can be, could ever replace the freedom of swimming in the immensity of the ocean”(source).

Wild and Free Bottlenose Dolphins Swimming off the Coast of Scotland  By Peter Asprey

Wild and Free Bottlenose Dolphins Swimming off the Coast of Scotland
By Peter Asprey

How can you help to further the goal of dolphin freedom? If you are not in Europe and cannot attend the even you can still be a voice for the dolphins and support the demonstration by making a donation no matter how small or large to the Europe Must Ban Dolphinaria Demo. You can sign up on Facebook for the demo and for daily updates on the event: Demonstration against Captivity of Cetaceans in Europe! You can find more information on the actual demo at: For a Delphinarium-free Europe!!! You can also sign the petition All dolphinaria must be closed in Europe!!!

Together we can make a difference for dolphins and the oceans!

Taiji Dolphin Hunters Harpoon First Pilot Whale of the Season

By Kirsten Massebeau

First pilot whale landed May 1, 2013 by International Wildlife Investigations

First pilot whale landed May 1, 2013 by International Wildlife Investigations

On May 1, 2013 the Taiji Fisherman  went back to work this time harpooning cetaceans at sea as reported by the International Wildlife Investigations:

1st landing of long finned pilot whale of the season in Taiji.

Event though the infamous dolphin drive hunt season has ended ( will resume on september 1st). On may 1st a new season of coastal whaling started for Taiji Fishermen, the next day the Masakazu Maru captained by Hoge Masashi went out and found this one about 10km offshore of Taiji.

Pay special attention to the marks next to it’s blowhole, this is how it was killed. We lack info on the technique used but “multiple stabbing/harpooning” is unlikely to provoke a quick death.

This long finned pilot whale was about 4.9 meters in length and weighted about  2 tons.

the quota for 28 whales is divided liked this :
– 8 long-finned pilot whale
– 10 Baird’s beaked whale
– 10 false killer whale
and is expected to be fulfilled. (Source)

Follow International Wildlife Investigation on Facebook for more important news on International Wildlife issues.

Letter Opposing SeaWorlds Permit Request to Import A Pacific White-Sided Dolphin from Japan

By Kirsten Massebeau

Captive Pacific White Sided Dolphin Komogawa SeaWorld Japan By Keiba Kate

Captive Pacific White Sided Dolphin Komogawa SeaWorld Japan
By Keiba Kate

SeaWorld has requested the importation of a Pacific white-sided dolphin named Kirara who was captive born. Unfortunately, many of the other dolphins at Kamogawa SeaWorld seem to have come from a different point of origin listed as “wild” and ??? (source) In an earlier article we explored: “What is Kamogawa SeaWorld’s Connection to the Taiji Dolphin Hunt? Say No to The Importation of A Pacific White-Sided Dolphin“.

Sample Letter:

Email Address:

Subject line: File No. 17754 Document Citation Number 78 FR 7755

Chief Permits and Conservation Division,
I am writing in opposition to SeaWorlds proposed importation of the Pacific white-sided dolphin Kirara born in captivity at Kamogawa SeaWorld in Japan. Although Kirara may have been born in captivity many of the Pacific white-sided dolphins at Kamogawa SeaWorld were in fact taken from the “wild” or appear data deficiant as noted by Ceta-Base marine mammal inventory (source)
 “Japan alone has more than 50 dolphinariums and swim-with-dolphins programs, ranging from large aquarium facilities with huge tanks and dolphin shows to small tanks at motels or floating sea pens in harbors.  In the last ten years alone, dolphin exports from Taiji, Japan, have gone to China, Korea, Ukraine, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
US aquariums like SeaWorld claim they don’t import dolphins from Taiji.  This is only true since Earth Island threatened to sue the US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for allowing such imports.  NMFS examined the laws and agreed with our lawyers that imports from Taiji, Japan, were illegal because US law specifies that captures of marine mammals should be humane.  Prior to that ruling, imported Taiji dolphins and small cetaceans like false killer whales were regularly obtained by SeaWorld, the Indianapolis Zoological Society, Miami Seaquarium, and the US Navy.  Dolphin brokers from the United States are often spotted in Taiji” (source)
By allowing this permit NOAA/NMFS will be indirectly supporting Taiji drive fisheries known for their horrific, and inhumane treatment of dolphins. Please do not do business with Marine parks associated with drive fisheries. 
Other points:
* Removing Kirara from her pod and introducing her into a foreign environment may permanently effect her mental health. 
* Traveling for 20 + hours in a small coffin like container are unacceptable as it may permanently effect her health. Dolphins belong in the ocean not flying worldwide in crates. 
Again do not allow Sea World to import this dolphin. If you allow this you are again underpinning the slaughter and cruel capture of dolphins in Taiji, Japan by allowing SeaWorld to do business with the Kamogawa Aquarium. 

. March 6, 2013 the comment period will end on the requested permit. Please compose your emails and letters today!  Make your letter in your own words so it will not be seen as spam. Be a voice for the dolphins who need your help so much!