The so-called Cove Guardians describe how they witnessed three days of hunting that left 46 pilot whales dead in the waters off the coast of Taiji.
This Japanese port has become the focal point of global campaigning in recent years aimed at stopping the harvest of cetaceans for both their meat and also as animals to be used in marine shows. The highly-acclaimed film, The Cove, revealed the brutal reality of the Taiji’s dolphin drives and went on to win an Oscar in 2010 but, five years on, sea mammals are still dying. Sea Shepherd marine conservationists maintains an ongoing presence of volunteers at the site of the Cove.
The Cove Guardians, as they are known, have released their latest allegations on Facebook, detailing a hunt that took place last weekend. November 19. They claim to have watched as eight hunting boats from the 12-strong fleet left the harbour at sunrise.
Later, the guardians “watched in horror” as the returning fleet suddenly changed direction. “As a very large pod was spotted, the 11 boats separated into two formations. The first drive of five boats pushed their pod quickly along the coast of Taiji while the remaining six boats struggled to gain control of the second half of the pod,” say the Cove Guardians.
“For the 69-74 Pilot whales the finish of the drive was only the start of the horror of Taiji’s infamous cove.” November 20: The Guardians say as skiffs loaded with hunters and trainers return to the Cove, the matriarch of the pod is tied up for slaughter.
“The entire family fought as one,” they say. In total 11 Pilot whales were slaughtered in three hours. November 21, 2015: The entire pod stayed in a close knit circle during the night before. In four hours, 21 Pilot whales were slaughtered, while the remainder of their family watched.
“While swimming in the blood of loved ones, a large pilot whale is witnessed thrashing around while ‘screaming’ out in anguish,” say the Guardians November 22: At first light, the lifeless bodies of the cetaceans could be seen floating.
“Those that had witnessed the slaughter of more than half of the pod, were now dumped to fend for themselves,” say the Cove Guardians.
“Not profitable for meat, these young pilot whales will not count against the quota, despite having little chance of survival.”
In total, the Cove Guardians say, 46 pilot whales were slaughtered, one captive was taken, and there were at least five drownings.
“What was left of the decimated family was then dropped at sea,” they add. “The destruction of life that occurs here can never be replaced.”
An online statement issued by the Japanese on whaling, it states: "There are more than 80 species of cetaceans in the world. While some are endangered, some are abundant. The Japanese Government strongly supports the protection of endangered whale species such as blue whale.
"On the other hand, the Japanese Government requests that the international community recognise that stocks of certain whale species such as minke whale are scientifically proven to be not endangered.
"The Japanese Government is strongly opposed to uncontrolled commercial whaling."