Operation Infinite Patience: Return of the Cove Guardians

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Photo: Sea Shepherd

Photo: Sea Shepherd

How does Sea Shepherd measure success? By the number of marine lives saved. Using this criteria, the original Cove Guardian program from September 1, 2010, to March 31, 2011 was a noteworthy success. An estimated 750 dolphin and pilot whale lives were saved as a result of the pressure applied by the Cove Guardian volunteers (the actuals from previous years averaged around 1,600 dolphins and pilot whales killed during this same six-month period). And if Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians saved this many lives, than it makes perfect sense to do it again this season.

The Cove Guardian volunteers who traveled from around the world at their own expense managed to non-violently intimidate, intervene, harass, and considerably slow down the dolphin killing. All of those hours of standing vigilance armed with cameras and staring down the brutal killers, chastising them face-to-face, and frustrating the authorities, paid off.

One of Sea Shepherd’s strategies is persistence. Shutting down the dolphin slaughter requires incredible stamina and patience. We have been actively opposing the killing of dolphins in Japan since 1980. During this time, we helped end the dolphin Slaughter at Iki Island in 1982, we released trapped dolphins in Taiji in 2003, and distributed some of the early visuals of the slaughter to international press provoking the Taiji fishermen to erect barriers to hide their shameful slaughter. Ric O’Barry, one of our original crewmembers from 2003, later returned to Taiji and collaborated with documentary filmmaker Louis Psihoyos and the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) to produce the Academy Award-winning film The Cove. And last year, we stood a six-month vigil in Taiji bringing together over 65 volunteers from around the world as Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians.

The Cove Guardian program resulted in the Governor of Wakayama Prefecture, Yoshinobu Nisaka, to mobilize over 100 policemen to undertake exercises in preparation for the return of the Cove Guardians for a second year in a row, a costly expense for Japan.

Officially, the shameful and brutal slaughter of the dolphins in Taiji will begin on September 1. Sea Shepherd wishes O’Barry and his team, who plan to be there on this date, the best in their efforts. Thanks to Ric, Louis, Earth Island Institute, OPS, Hardy Jones, Scott and Elora West, and all of the Cove Guardians, we have seen a continuous, unrelenting, and diverse opposition to the slaughter in Taiji for nearly a decade.

Sea Shepherd will follow-up on our original efforts by bringing a second wave of Cove Guardian volunteers to Taiji over the next six months. Our goal for this time period will be to prevent the slaughter of as many dolphins as possible. We will need aggressive, courageous, resourceful, and disciplined volunteers along with passionate and dedicated people to support them.

A Cove Guardian can be any Sea Shepherd supporter willing to travel to Taiji at their own expense to stand guard for the dolphins. Sea Shepherd will provide the leadership and the advice required to maintain the operation within the working guidelines and parameters of Japanese law. It is a delicate line to walk, managing to push the envelope, while being aggressive yet lawful, but most importantly, demonstrating to Japan and the rest of the world that the dolphins of Taiji will never again be slain out of sight and out of mind.

If you want to help Sea Shepherd save lives but cannot get involved as a Cove Guardian volunteer, then you can join as a Cove Guardian supporter. It is a costly campaign to undertake, but well worth it in terms of lives saved. We estimate this investment to be less than a $100 per dolphin life saved.

Join Sea Shepherd’s efforts to defend and protect the dolphins of Taiji by becoming a Cove Guardian or a Cove Guardian supporter today. To join us in Taiji (voluntarily, and completely at your own cost and risk), write us at coveguardian@seashepherd.org.

The dolphins of Taiji need your help.

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Posted in: Conservation, Events, Fishing
Michael "Beach Mick" Hudson

About the Author:

Michael "Beach Mick" Hudson is the founder and Editor of Beach Carolina Magazine. Living along the coast of North Carolina, Mike has a passion for the beach and loves to bring news and events of the Carolinas to others around the world.

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