Japan’s Taiji hunters tethered and drowned whale, footage allegedly shows
A disturbing video allegedly showing the horrific tethering and drowning of a pilot whale by hunters in Japan’s Taiji cove has been released by the marine conservationist group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
The pilot whale was among an estimated 69-74 members of a large pod driven into the cove on November 19 (Tokyo time), according to the organization’s Cove Guardian volunteers who shot the video.
The conservationists claim that following the long and stressful drive to the shallow waters – during which time the pilot whales fought for their freedom and were at first split into two separate groups as they tried in vain to escape the hunting boats – the pod was to face three days confined in the cove without food or shelter.
On November 20, the violent captive selection and slaughter process began, as the protective matriarch of the pod was tied up to keep her from interfering with the killing of her family, the activists alleged in a release.
After three hours, 11 pilot whales had been slaughtered and one captive was forcibly dragged under the tarps for captive selection and later taken to the Taiji Harbor pens and 21 more slaughtered the next day, the group said.
Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians claim they saw and heard one whale crying out loudly as it swam through the water that had turned red with the blood of its family.
The conservationist accuse the hunters of ignoring the whales’ pleas, who continued the prolonged torture of these highly intelligent and social cetaceans once again the following day.
Sea Shepherd report seeing bodies of several pilot whales floating along the nets that lined the cove on the morning of November 22, as at least five pod members had apparently succumbed overnight to the violence and the trauma of witnessing the brutal deaths of their family, and drowned.
One pilot whale – who appeared to have already been “pithed” by the hunters (stabbed by inserting a metal rod through the spinal cord, just behind the blowhole), visibly bleeding and barely able to stay above the water’s surface – somehow managed to briefly break away from under the tarps and tried to find a way out by the rocks alongside the cove, but was dragged through the water and back to the boats by a hunter in a wetsuit, according to the volunteers.
The video captured by Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians allegedly reveals the horrific actions of the hunters and the desperation of the dying pilot whale, who was tied by its flukes to the side of one of the hunting vessels and mercilessly left to drown.
The conservationists claim that this further dispels the myth that Taiji’s hunters want the public to believe that the killing of these animals is quick and humane.
Taiji Fishery Union had protested against the Oscar winning documentary filt The Cove, which secretly recorded the controversial dolphin killing techniques by the hunters in Taiji, claiming that hunters’ practices were not inhumane as the film depicts.
14 more were killed on the last day of the hunt, taking the final tally to of whales of the pod killed to 46.
“Short-finned pilot whales are listed as ‘data deficient’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,” Sea Shepherd Founder Captain Paul Watson said. “There is simply not enough information known about their remaining wild populations.”
Small whales, likely juveniles, were abandoned at sea by the hunters because they would not produce much meat and though they are left with little chance of survival on their own, they will not be counted in this season’s self-imposed quota which allows for a total of 1,873 cetaceans (including 101 short-finned pilot whales) to be slaughtered or captured, according to the activists.
The Sea Shepherd’s video, which has been watched more than a 250,000 times, is generating outrage worldwide.
“These monsters live and breath in every country and culture not just Japan,” viewer Patricia Schaff said. “Whether it’s marine life or not, even human life, man is a sickened species. These older cultures are harder to break of tradition when the government doesn’t stop them.”
“I’m sickened every year by this,” another viewer Sue Mason-Adams said. “I cannot believe humans can be so cruel. Even babies are dumped at sea after their mothers are slaughtered.”
Sea Shepherd’s supporters are calling on US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, US Secretary of State John Kerry, the United Nations, the Convention on Migratory Species and other officials and regulatory bodies in regular contact with Japan to intervene to bring sanctions against the nation for allowing this extreme cruelty to continue.
“Migrating dolphins and whales are not infinite ‘resources;’ they are living and vital parts of the ocean eco-system that the nations and government agencies of the world must take action to protect before it is too late,” Paul Watson said. “As Taiji continues to ruthlessly wipe out entire pods – multiple generations at a time – of wild migratory pilot whales from the sea, they may very well be driving pilot whales to extinction.”