A New Slaughter of Pilot Whales in Taiji

By Ric O’Barry

Our friend Brian Barnes is in Japan and just witnessed yet another senseless slaughter of dolphins – pilot whales – in the Cove in Taiji.  Here’s his report:


The last time I came to Taiji was February 26th.  On that day, the Fishermen’s Union announced an “early end to the dolphin killing season” – but they weren’t telling the whole truth!

Today I witnessed the slaughter of about 40 pilot whales. Yesterday between 50 and 80 pilot whales were in the notorious killing Cove, and the fishermen spent the day installing tarps over the Cove killing area and running nets to keep the pilot whales from escaping.

This morning, about half of the pod including babies, mothers and entire families were dragged from the center of the Cove to the tarps and listened to each other scream in pain while they were being fatally stabbed under the tarps.  Then they were dragged out by their flukes and taken to the gutting barge, which was located near Taiji harbor.

After they were gutted, the “banger boats” would come to the barge and drag them in groups of 5 to 10 at a time back to the Taiji slaughterhouse.

The slaughter started around 5 AM (JST) and ended around 10 AM.  I monitored the remaining pilot whales for several hours with the thought that it was “lunch time” at the slaughterhouse, and they might come back to kill the remaining pilot whales trapped in the Cove.  But I realized they had stopped for the day.  I was informed that because this is a major vacation/holiday in Japan called “Golden Week” and that there are many families visiting the area and small children who were playing on the beach.  The fishermen didn’t want to kill the pilot whales in front of the children.

The remaining pilot whales behind the nets haven’t eaten for at least two days.  They are exhausted and not swimming.  Instead, they are spending their final few hours spy-hopping in the Cove.  Naturally, they’re frightened having just watched and listened to so many of their family members being killed right in front of them.  Without a doubt, they know what awaits them in the morning.

It is unfortunate that 26 dolphin hunters in a small town can bring such shame to an entire nation, and most of that nation doesn’t even know this slaughter happens.

Right now the nation of Japan needs the compassion of the world to help them through the aftermath of the terrible events on March 11th.  Can the leaders of Japan understand that showing compassion to dolphins, porpoises and their larger cousins, the great whales, is something the rest of the world is looking for from them?

As stated, this is a major holiday week in Japan, and there are many tourists in Taiji from the cities.  As several were walking by the Cove and stopped to look at the pilot whales, I pointed out the blood in the water to them – most of them gasped in horror when they realized what was happening.  One woman broke down into tears and began to shake.  I gave them a DVD of The Cove, translated into Japanese.  With shock upon their faces, they thanked me for the DVD and for being there for the pilot whales.


This is the kind of effort we need to repeat all over Japan.

The government of Japan should immediately pass laws to protect dolphins, porpoises and whales in their waters.  By doing so, they would be sending the world a message of compassion.


Contact the Japanese Embassy in Washington DC and urge them to stop killing dolphins and whales.  Be polite, and urge them to protect Japanese consumers from mercury poisoning from eating dangerous whale and dolphin meat.

Ambassador Ichiro FUJISAKI

2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20008

Phone:  202-238-6700

Fax: 202-328-2187

Japan Information and Culture Center


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About Ric O'Barry

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Ric O’Barry, Dolphin Project Founder & Director has worked on both sides of the captive dolphin issue, making him an invaluable asset in the efforts to end exploitation. He worked for 10 years within the dolphin captivity industry, and has spent the past 40 working against it.

In the 1960s, O’Barry was employed by the Miami Seaquarium, where he captured and trained dolphins, including the five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV-series of the same name. He also trained Hugo, the first orca kept in captivity east of the Mississippi. When Kathy, the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms, O’Barry realized that capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong.

From that moment on, O’Barry knew what he must do with his life. On the first Earth Day, 1970, he launched a searing campaign against the multi-billion dollar dolphin captivity industry and has been going at it ever since.

Over the past 40 years, Ric O’Barry has rescued and rehabilitated dolphins in many countries around the world, including Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, the Bahamas Islands and the United States. He is a leading voice in the fight to end brutal dolphin hunts in Japan, the Solomon Islands, the Faroe Islands, and wherever else they occur.

O’Barry has been recognized by many national and international entities for his dedicated efforts, such as being voted Huffington Post’s 2010 Most Influential Green Game Changer, and being listed on O Magazine’s 2010 Power List – Men We Admire for his “Power of Passion.” O’Barry received an Environmental Achievement Award, presented by the United States Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program. He has done countless interviews with such prestigious news programs as Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper 360, the Mike Huckabee Show, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

His book Behind the Dolphin Smile was published in 1989; a second book, To Free A Dolphin was published in September 2000. Both of them are about his work and dedication. He is the star of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove and the Animal Planet television series Blood Dolphin$.

Author: Ric O'Barry


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