Graphic video has been captured of a pilot whale throwing itself against the rocks of a Taiji cove after being fatally stabbed by fishermen. The dying animal belonged to a pod of 69-74 pilot whales that were rounded up last week and killed over the course of several days.

(Warning: This video contains graphic footage.)

This footage was captured by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Cove Guardian volunteers, who are prohibited from interfering in the annual slaughter of whales and dolphins that occurs in Taiji, Japan, every year. Though the Taiji fishermen can no longer prevent the world from seeing what they do, those who get involved are swiftly arrested and then deported, leaving no one to tell the story.

On its website, Sea Shepherd details the calculated process that led to the gory scene above:

“The pilot whale was among an estimated 69-74 members of a large pod driven into the cove on Nov. 19 (Japan time). 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. After each grueling day, Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians remained at the cove, monitoring the pilot whales throughout the night. On Nov. 20 (Japan time), 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 brutal killing of her family. 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.”


While this slaughter occurs, the surviving pilot whales cluster together in a dense mass, clinging to each other for comfort as the screams of the other whales fill the cove. Not all the whales die violently; some drown from the sheer trauma of the experience.

Some Are Slaughtered, Some Are Captured

The whale in the video had already been “pithed” by the hunters when the camera began rolling. That is to say that it was stabbed through its spinal cord by a metal rod just behind the blowhole. Blood fills the water in thick gouts while a diver swims after it to get a rope around its tail. After the whale is tied, it continues its desperate fight for survival even as the hunters drag it away to be butchered. This was the fourth day of the hunt.

Most of the whales and dolphins driven into Taiji’s infamous killing cove are slaughtered for their meat, but not all. Some of these animals are captured for sale to marine parks around the world.


Whales that are too small to be butchered or too young to be sold are dragged out of the cove by the hunters and returned to the sea. Sea Shepherd reports that these whales have “little chance of survival on their own,” and yet they are not included in the fishermen’s self-imposed quota for killed and captured cetaceans.

What You Can Do to Stop This

Right now, Sea Shepherd and its 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 official bodies to intervene and stop the extreme cruelty being perpetuated in Taiji. The town’s fishermen claim that their fishing methods are cruelty-free, but a mere glimpse at the video above exposes that lie.

To learn more about what you can do, visit the Sea Shepherd website as well as Ric O’Bannon’s Dolphin Project.

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