Multiple Species of Dolphins Decimated in The Cove

Taiji, 10-11-17 – It’s hard to describe in words what Dolphin Project Cove Monitors witnessed several hours ago, with three species driven into the cove in not one, but two separate drives.

The day started at 5:40 a.m. when all 12 banger boats left the harbor in search of migrating dolphin pods. Just over three hours later at approximately 9:00 a.m., Cove Monitors noticed boats gathering on the horizon. Soon after, a drive was in progress, and a large pod of dolphins was pushed towards the cove.

Rough-toothed dolphins struggle to escape the hunters, Taiji, Japan.

Rough-toothed dolphins struggle to escape the hunters, Taiji, Japan.

A lone pilot whale is amongst those driven into The Cove, Taiji, Japan.

A lone pilot whale is amongst those driven into The Cove, Taiji, Japan.

The 38-member pod represented the first capture of rough-toothed dolphins, a deep water species new to this season’s hunting quota. A total of 20 mammals can be taken for either capture or slaughter. As trainers started arriving via skiffs, it became obvious that at least in part, this would be a captive selection. One large fin was spotted swimming amongst the group – a solitary pilot whale.

The world watched via our live broadcast as the dolphins were terrorized by both hunters and trainers alike, in their quest to find the most desirable animals for “life” in captivity. At first curious, the dolphins surrounded a diver in what should have been a poignant moment, reflecting a centuries-old relationship between man and dolphin – but one that quickly morphed into an unconscionable violation of trust.*
*See video below

Looking into the eye of a terrorized rough-toothed dolphin, Taiji, Japan

Looking into the eye of a terrorized rough-toothed dolphin, Taiji, Japan.

Nine rough-toothed dolphins were taken captive, and an unspecified amount were believed to have been slaughtered, with the rest of the group pushed off to the side to make space for the second drive.

As skiffs approached the cove, 14 Risso’s dolphins were seen struggling against the hunters. One mammal was tethered by its tail via a rope, desperately attempting to escape, a fight it would soon lose. Overpowered, all but three were slaughtered, with two of the three survivors – young calves – dumped at sea, orphaned.

They say a silver lining can be found in a cloud full of rain, and, unbelievably, when it came time to slaughter the last Risso’s, we witnessed just that. As skiffs and divers terrorized the mammal, in efforts to drag it underneath the killing tarps, the dolphin began eluding the hunters. Over and over the dolphin was nowhere to be seen, diving for long periods of time. Finally, when all hope seemed to be lost, the Risso’s once again, proved that the power of one should never be underestimated, and hunters gave up.

A mom and young Risso’s calf swim together for the last time, Taiji, Japan

A mom and young Risso’s calf swim together for the last time, Taiji, Japan.

Today’s double drive was nearly unbearable, as a family of rough-toothed dolphins was torn apart and captives taken from their pod forever. The fate of the Risso’s dolphins was quite different as most of them were slaughtered for human consumption. This family was completely destroyed. I was amazed to see one, lone Risso’s dolphin continue to elude the hunters until they finally gave up. It was later released with the other dolphins. A truly amazing moment.” ~ Cynthia Fernandez, Dolphin Project Cove Monitor

Towards the end of a long and brutal day, it appeared the dolphins would be left overnight in the cove. However, the return of skiffs signaled the release of the remaining rough-toothed dolphins (up to 29 individuals), the solitary pilot whale, and – you better believe – the Risso’s dolphin who fought so valiantly to stay alive.

Thank you to all those who watched our live broadcast, shared our posts and contributed in other ways towards our six-month, on-the-ground campaign in Taiji. The link between the captivity industry and the slaughters is undeniable, with trainers and hunters working side-by-side, choosing which dolphins will be selected for captivity, and which will be slaughtered for their meat. Collectively, the more we educate, the better people can make ethical choices to help end this lunacy.



Dolphin Project will be on the ground in Taiji during the entire killing season, broadcasting live on social media, blogging and disseminating information for the world to see. Your support has never been more crucial and is greatly appreciated.

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Interested in joining us in Taiji? Learn about becoming a volunteer Dolphin Project Cove Monitor.

Interested in becoming a Dolphin Project Cove Monitor?

Interested in becoming a Dolphin Project Cove Monitor?


It’s fast, it’s simple and it’s effective. Take the Pledge now and share with your friends!

Take The Pledge to Not Visit a Dolphin Show!

Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project is a non-profit charitable organization, dedicated to the welfare and protection of dolphins worldwide. Founded by Richard (Ric) O’Barry on Earth Day, April 22, 1970, the mission of the Dolphin Project is to end dolphin exploitation and slaughter, as dolphins are routinely captured, harassed, slaughtered and sold into captivity around the world – all in the name of profit.

Every year from approximately September 1 to March 1, a notoriously cruel hunt of some of the most sentient and sensitive creatures on the planet takes place in Taiji, Japan, made famous by the 2009 Academy award-winning movie “The Cove.” During this period, fisherman, or more appropriately, dolphin hunters, “drive” the mammals to their capture or deaths via means of physical violence and acoustic torture.

Dolphin Project is the only organization to have been on the ground in Taiji since 2003. We have revolutionized live streaming and will broadcast throughout the entire season.

Dolphin Project works not only to halt these slaughters but also to rehabilitate captive dolphins, investigate and advocate for economic alternatives to dolphin slaughter exploitation and to put a permanent end to dolphin captivity.  This work has been chronicled in films such as, ‘A Fall From Freedom,’ the Oscar-winning documentary ‘The Cove,’ and in the Animal Planet mini-series, ‘Blood Dolphin$.’

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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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