Dead at Sea: The Forgotten Ones

On October 19, Dolphin Project Cove Monitors witnessed and reported an unusually long drive of Risso’s dolphins, resulting in the deaths of approximately 12-15 animals. Despite their courageous and heartbreaking fight, the hunters were able to overpower the exhausted dolphins, pushing them into the cove where they were later killed. Presumably, this “kill number” was recorded, adding to the quotas previously established by the Taiji Fisherman’s Union for the 2015/2016 drive season.

That’s the “spin” Taiji wants the rest of the world to believe. But it’s a lie.

The drive itself is sheer brutality, unlike anything I’ve ever seen.” ~ Ric O’Barry

2015/2016 Taiji Dolphin Quota

2015/2016 Taiji Dolphin Quota

With the carcass of a juvenile Risso’s dolphin washing ashore, presumably after the drive of a few days ago, it’s obvious these numbers are wrong. DEAD wrong.

At the time of writing, the dolphin’s broken body still lies on the beach, between the Taiji lighthouse (visible in the movie, “The Cove,”) and the vantage point close to the Taiji High School. Says senior Cove Monitor Hans Peter Roth, “The sight of this dead Risso’s dolphin, in a progressing state of decay was shocking. It’s death is undoubtedly linked to the drive hunt from last Monday, when a pod of Risso’s was killed in the infamous cove of Taiji.”

Out at sea where there are no witnesses, dolphins die as a result of stress, exhaustion or injuries sustained during the hunt. Dolphins are run over by boats. They get hit by propellers or other moving parts. They drown. In other words, it’s a gruesome and brutal process, with no records kept of these “incidental” deaths.

Many animals, including the young, the old and the sick die even before the rest of the pod gets pushed into the cove. These “forgotten” ones  are not accounted for, likely resulting in kill numbers being much higher than officially reported.” ~ Ric O’Barry

In spite of the Risso’s decay, there were telltale signs of such brutality. Hans Peter Roth and fellow Cove Monitor Marna Frida Olsen report seeing scratch marks around the dolphin’s rostrum, indicating the animal might have been entangled in nets. In such cases, they are not used for meat. Fishermen have been noted loading bodies into skiffs and dumping them at sea.

Risso's dolphin lying dead on rocks in Taiji, Japan

Risso’s dolphin lying dead on rocks in Taiji, Japan Photo credit: Peter Roth

Says O’Barry, “When I first started going to Taiji in 2003, fishermen would openly kill dolphins on the beach. Then they started driving them into the secret cove, to kill the animals out of sight. Tarps were later employed, and now, a wall has been built. The secrecy of their actions is increasing, due to world condemnation.”

Just last week, approximately 800 people aired their grievances outside the Japanese embassy in London for the dolphins killed in the drive hunts of Japan. During the demo, which was covered by international media, the Japanese embassy chose to remove its flag from its own building. This has never happened before – a likely sign of progress. With their circle of support shrinking, and with more blue cove days during this season than red, the tide seems to be turning in our favor.

Now more than ever, we need to be diligent and keep doing what we’re doing. With Dolphin Project Cove Monitors on the ground throughout the entire killing season, the campaign is expensive, time consuming and energy intensive. Please consider supporting our work, with a monthly donation, shopping our store for cool gear or even volunteering to become part of our team in Taiji. Our donation page offers other opportunities for giving. Thank you.

To the dead Risso’s: although you weren’t even recorded as a “number,” your life had meaning.

Risso's dolphin dead in Taiji

Young Risso’s dolphin found dead on the rocks in Taiji, Japan Photo credit: Peter Roth

Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the USA (Tax ID 47-1665067), and donations are fully tax-deductible.

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About Cara Sands

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It might be true that we don't recall many moments from our early years. However, Cara's first memory of a dolphin had her begging her parents to ask the trainer to let the dolphin go! The problem with captivity was evident to her, even as a 4 year-old child.

A writer by trade, Cara has researched, investigated and documented dolphins suffering in captivity. From documenting dolphins incarcerated in buildings, cut-off from fresh air, sunlight and normal socialization to researching cases of animals imprisoned in solitary confinement, Cara is a dedicated dolphin welfare advocate.

It is her belief that education equals empowerment. The more information shared, the better our choices and knowledge of how to act as a positive and respectful voice for dolphins across the world.

Cara is based out of Canada and makes time whenever possible to observe dolphins in their natural environments. She is writing her first fiction novel but knowing her, the marine world will play a prominent role in her book!

"The use of animals for entertainment is nothing more than an abuse of dominance. Some of the most sentient species on the planet have been exploited to incomprehensible levels, all due to their inherent benevolence. Ironic, considering that we turn to the abused themselves for displays of humanity."
~ Cara Sands

Author: Cara Sands


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