“They’re Gone” – Pilot Whales Slaughtered in the Cove

Day Four – September 19, 2016, Taiji: After 47 hours – four days – of being forcibly confined without food or shelter in the cove, the remaining pilot whales met a tragic end at the hands of Japanese fishermen. From the presumed matriarch to the many juveniles to the large male who was spotted many times bobbing his head out of the water, no lives were spared today.

At around 5:30 a.m. three skiffs and one banger boat left the harbor, making their way towards the pilot whales. Our worst fears were confirmed as the killing process started immediately.

After tightly tying the nets, six divers, along with the fishermen, began pushing the pod of weakened dolphins underneath the gray tarps. Some of the adult pilot whales were so large, their frantic splashing and tail slapping could be heard for several minutes, echoing throughout the killing cove. It was – chilling.

In the absence of visuals, Dolphin Project Cove Monitors continued to live stream, documenting the sounds until all became quiet.

Freshly-killed pilot whales under tarps, Taiji, Japan

Freshly-killed pilot whales under tarps, Taiji, Japan.
Credit: DolphinProject.com

About 25 minutes later, one skiff left the cove, tarps attached to both sides to meet with the banger boat at sea. One dead pilot whale –likely the one we were listening to as it fought for its life – was wrapped by its tail, its large body being pushed all the way back to the harbor. It was one of the most horrific sights I have ever witnessed.” ~ Daniela Moreno, Dolphin Project Cove Monitor.

Dead pilot whales dragged by their tails back to harbor, Taiji, Japan

Dead pilot whales dragged by their tails back to harbor, Taiji, Japan.
Credit: DolphinProject.com

And so it went. Each valiant struggle by the pilot whales and their subsequent demise took about 30-40 minutes. And in each instance, just like the first, the dolphins were tied by their tails as they were taken back to the butcher’s for processing.

Just before 9:00 a.m., the water started to churn again as the dolphins splashed nonstop, their panicked vocalizations continuing on and on. With each cry, I too started crying.” ~ Daniela Moreno

Twenty minutes later, a skiff left the cove with many tarps on top of it. The juveniles – and there were many in the pod – were piled underneath.

The Cove Monitors waited for another two hours, and just after 11:00 a.m., fishermen returned to the cove, and began removing the tarps. The nets were pulled. The killing was done.

By the time the announcement was made that fresh dolphin meat was available in Taiji, a total of nine adult pilot whales and about seven juveniles, 16 dolphins in total, had lost their lives. They suffered greatly during their prolonged confinement. These past four days have clearly illuminated the cruel slaughter process that takes place in Taiji, with fishermen uncaring of the suffering of these sentient mammals. And, on a larger scale, the direct link to the captivity industry, with dolphins being sourced, then sold to aquariums and marine parks across the world underscores the absolute necessity to STOP the sale of tickets to dolphin shows, including swim-with programs.

Featured image: Freshly-killed pilot whale being dragged out of the cove and to the butcher’s house for processing. Credit: DolphinProject.com


Day 1 – September 16, 2016 Breaking: Two Species of Dolphins Brutally Captured in Taiji’s Hunts
Day 2 – September 17, 2016 Sold Into Servitude: “I’ll Take the Baby”
Day 3 – September 18, 2016 Awaiting ‘Fate’ – The Cruel Decimation of Two Pods



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



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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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