The 'Red Cove' of Taiji

Taiji is a small town located in the Higashimuro district in Japan. A coastal town that has beautiful ocean views, a fresh salty breeze and a horribly dark secret.

Image: Jeremy Bishop

For decades this town has been know as the whaling hub of Japan, and still to this day continues this barbaric tradition. Every year, from early September to early March, the hunt takes place. Twenty six fishermen take to the seas in their boats to hunt down large pods of dolphins, bring them back to the cove to be put in holding pens, they then have them sorted into two groups.. One group to be sold into captivity, and one to be slaughtered for the people of the town to eat.

Image: Jessica Macdonald

There is a quota of how many of the nine dolphin species can be slaughtered each season. A total of 450 striped dolphins, 298 bottlenose dolphins, 280 pantropical spotted dolphins, 251 risso’s dolphins, 100 pacific white-sided dolphins, 101 short finned pilot whales, 49 false killer whales, 20 rough tooth dolphins, and 200 melon-headed whales. One of the main reasons that this is still happening to this day is of course, money. Taiji is know for its involvement with whaling and for having its whaling museum, which also doubles as a marine park holding all of the nine main species that are hunted down by the fishermen. The marine park is in very poor condition and houses all of the dolphins in enclosures far too small for them, most of the time different species are mixed in together as well, which causes them all a lot more stress. The problems this has caused the for the dolphins is horrific, bullying is prevalent within the pens and a majority of the dolphins have rake marks and other injuries. The dolphins also show signs of self harm and and depression, they will smash themselves into the sides of their pens or gnaw on walls and gates.

Image: Cara Sands

Dolphins are incredibly intelligent creatures and can swim up to 100 kilometres in a day, they need constant stimulation and enough room to keep active. Needless to say that in small pens with other species of dolphins, trapped in a whaling museum with no stimulation, no open waters, suffering from the trauma of seeing the rest of your pod slaughtered in front of you, it’s no wonder the mental health of these incredible animals is suffering... It would be enough to drive anybody insane. Big marine parks and dolphinariums from around the world will come to taiji and use the marine park like a pet shop, purchasing certain dolphins species to add to their collection so they can make a profit from them. These dolphins are in captivity suffering for people’s entertainment, trained to perform shows and swim the same route in the same small enclosures every day.

Image: Courtnie Tosana

They deserve a better life than this and here’s how you can help. The first thing you can do, you are already doing now. Educating yourself to understand what is really happening, and to find out the truth of Taiji and the marine parks that support it. The second is too not by a ticket, don’t support the suffering. Instead you could opt for doing something else like taking a boat tour and seeing these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat where they should be. The third is to share this information with others, the more people that know the truth of this horrid place, and the inhumane murder happening there every year, the better. Just remember that we all have a voice, a powerful one. It is strong and it is loud, please use that voice for the right reasons, to start a change that will not just make you proud, but also help those in Taiji and marine parks worldwide who do not have a voice, and cannot speak up of their injustice. Think Blue!

Abigail - Co-founder