Sold Into Servitude – “I’ll Take The Baby”

Day Two – September 17, 2016, Taiji: By 5:30 a.m. the cove was already bustling with activity. Four skiffs carrying fishermen, divers, trainers and buyers would set the stage for the remainder of the day. The atmosphere could almost have been carnival-like, with shouting, splashing and boats coming in and out.

Except for the 80-100 bottlenose dolphins held overnight, with no access to food or freedom.

Instead, what enfolded was a macabre display of callousness, aggression and a complete disregard for the terrified, sentient beings who were now in the process of being sold into a life of servitude.

Nets being pulled tighter around dolphins to push them into shallow waters

Nets being pulled tighter around dolphins to push them into shallow waters.

The captive selection process was brutal. Dolphins were wrangled, grabbed and jumped on as they were pushed as close as possible to the beach. Nets were thrown to immobilize the mammals.” ~ Daniela Moreno, Dolphin Project Cove Monitor

Laughing hunters hold dolphin captive in nets, Taiji, Japan

Laughing hunters hold dolphin captive in nets, Taiji, Japan.

Underneath the tarps, shouting was heard as buyers negotiated the price for each dolphin.

These two are mother and baby. Which one do you want? Do you want both?” ~ Translated from Japanese as sellers negotiated the price

Their response?

I’ll take the baby.”

As the day wore on, the dolphins became more panicked, more exhausted. Some were caught in nets while others threw themselves up against the jagged rocks.

Trainers and divers would literally jump over the dolphins, grabbing them by their fins to push them towards the skiffs, where hunters were waiting to drop nets on top of them. Multiple dolphins were caught in the nets in shallow waters. I could hear the dolphins communicating with each other as they fought for their lives. It was heartbreaking.” ~ Daniela Moreno

Panicked dolphins entangle themselves in nets

Panicked dolphins entangle themselves in nets.

Bloodied dolphins after throwing themselves up against rocks.

Bloodied dolphins after throwing themselves up against the rocks.

Dolphin Project Cove Monitors live streamed dolphins rolling over onto their backs, either too injured or too weak to keep themselves upright. Throughout all of this, laughter and cheers were heard as trainers worked alongside hunters, plucking dolphins out of the pod to be shipped to aquariums and marine parks throughout the world.

By around 1:00 p.m., the cove quieted as skiffs left for the day. For seven hours, the brutalized mammals witnessed their pod members being wrangled into slings, and by the time it was over, a total of 38 bottlenose dolphins had been taken captive.

Approximately 150 bottlenose dolphins have been “pre-sold” to Japanese dolphinariums, with the biggest exporter being China, followed by Russia, Turkey, Dubai, Korea and other countries.” ~ Ric O’Barry, Founder/Director of Dolphin Project

And what of the pilot whales?

At the time of this writing, the pilot whales have been confined in the cove for over 36 hours with no access to food or freedom. Our Cove Monitors have documented several juveniles in the pod, along with a baby, quite possibly a newborn. One larger adult continues to circle the group while the other bob in the water, their fate, to be determined.

Pilot whales, including tiny baby await their fate in the cove, Taiji, Japan

Pilot whales, including tiny baby await their fate in the cove, Taiji, Japan.

Watch the videos below, taken at the end of the day. Bottlenose dolphins are both agitated and exhausted, while pilot whales await their fate.

Featured image: Bloodied bottlenose dolphins fighting for their lives. Credit:


Day 1 – September 16, 2016 Breaking: Two Species of Dolphins Brutally Captured in Taiji’s Hunts



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

Donate to Dolphin Project


Interested in joining us in Taiji? Learn about becoming a Dolphin Project Cove Monitor and submit your application, free of charge.

Ric O'Barry Dolphin Project Cove Monitors at The Cove





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 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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