Taiji Risso’s Die

By Terran Baylor
Cove Monitor
Save Japan Dolphins

Like most days in Taiji for a Cove Monitor it usually starts with a very early wake-up and a good convenience-store coffee on the way to the Taiji harbor, there to wait and see if the dolphin drive boats make their way out to sea.  But today I was late and missed the boats leaving the harbor – so no coffee and no harbor – straight to the ocean lookout point to scan for drive boats in formations…

Drive formation noticed – and a pod visible with them is our worst fear – and today that fear came true once again.  Many times the drive boats would loose the pod making their movements seem like Keystone Cops on the high seas.  I immediately started thinking it was Risso’s dolphins – since they seem the most difficult species to drive in.

Started feeling sick when they reached the outer harbor area with the realization this would not be a “Blue” day.  Began thinking about when would be the best time to head to the Cove area, or wait it out and see if the pod manages to get free.  Taiji has made the Cove practically impenetrable to get pictures/footage of the horror the dolphin hunters perpetrate upon families of cetaceans.  A break wall exists which turned out to be the best place for counting the number of Rissos dolphins about to have their lives ended.  Do not like to say this over and over again – but it is what I am thinking about when viewing the images.  I saw and photographed the very LAST wave this pod will ever surf – I am sure they were terrified!

The pod was aggressively pushed into the killing Cove and then netted.  At this point some may be picked by trainers to be put into captivity for human amusement.  Wish I could say a trainer was present, because I couldn’t see any trainer.


The dolphins were quickly and viciously pushed further into the Cove and under tarps – hiding what was to come next.  I could hear the slapping of a dolphins flipper as the killing proceeded, then the insane sound of utter silence…

A family of ten Risso’s dolphins was killed today – not for our amusement, but for some extra food.  It is “extra” here because food here is not scarce at all.  Tuna comes in every single day from fishing boats and is sprawled out onto concrete floors to be purchased.


The day doesn’t end here…   On top of removing an entire pod family from the sea, they also transferred two dolphins to the Dolphin Base (Dolphin Resort) – and at least four more dolphins to an unknown location.  All of the transfers today came from the extensive Taiji harbor pens.  

Please…  Please…  Do not buy a ticket, do not “experience” a swim with dolphin program, tell everyone you know – captivity is not acceptable, and GET INVOLVED!!!

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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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