The Dolphins of Taiji, Wakayama, Japan

TWMIn the small coastal town of Taiji, hundreds to thousands of dolphins and small whales are captured and killed each year during the annual dolphin drive hunt.

For a staggering six months of every year – September 1st until March – a group of dolphin hunters herd wild dolphins from the ocean’s open waters into a hidden shallow bay, now infamously known around the world as the cove.

The hunters capture entire families, or pods, of various species of dolphins at a time in order to satisfy the international demand for captive dolphins in the entertainment industry. Those taken captive are sent to aquariums and marine parks worldwide. The remaining dolphins are killed by a hunting technique known as “pithing,” which leaves the still conscious dolphins paralyzed and often drowning in the blood of their own family members.

Since the start of the season on September 1st, 2014 a total of 1,084 dolphins from six species have been driven into the cove in Taiji, Japan. Of this total 751 were slaughtered, 251 were released and 80 have been taken as live-capture. An additional two dolphins are listed as “Other”, they died but were not slaughtered or counted towards the quota. Released animals include dependent juveniles and calves.
Species captured, sold & killed include: bottlenose dolphins, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Pantropical spotted dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, short-finned pilot whales and striped dolphins.


I want to be there with you
Standing by your side
Waist-high in the water
Become the rising tide

I want to be there with you
Behold the mighty sea
We raise our voices higher
Together you and me

And we will rise up for the ocean
The shepherds of the seas
Let no man take their bodies
And drown them in our tears

I, I will stay with you
While we drown in blood and pain
I will not desert you
We shall not die in vain…

And we will hold on to each other
Though they bleed our bodies dry

As the water rises higher
They shall not hear us cry

I, I will care for you
When no one else is near
In the depths of sorrow
I will take your fear

I, I will go with you
To the end of earth and sky
You will know I fight for you
Until the day I die

And we will rise up for the ocean
The shepherds of the seas
Let no man take their bodies
Or drown them in our tears
We will rise in tidal waters
And brave the darkest days
We fight and never falter
The guardians of the waves.

© Maria Daines/Paul Killington