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Sea Shepherd
Worldwide

Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately-balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.

Sea Shepherd is not verified as a 501(c)3 organization.

Latest News

Nov 20, 2014

Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians Monitoring Captive Transfer Of Bottlenose Dolphins Captured In Taiji’s Brutal Drive Hunt

Cove Guardians Believe the Dolphins are Being Transported to a Marine Park within Japan, Call Upon Japanese Supporters to Help

Bottlenose transfer in full swing at Harbor. 4 dolphins have so far been loaded upBottlenose transfer in full swing at Harbor.
4 dolphins have so far been loaded up
Photo: Sea Shepherd
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society volunteers on the ground in Taiji, Japan are currently monitoring the transfer of bottlenose dolphins captured last year in Taiji’s brutal drive hunt, now destined for a lifetime in captivity.

Sea Shepherd’s volunteer Cove Guardians have been standing watch since 5 pm yesterday (Japan time), monitoring the captive transfer process throughout the night. The Cove Guardians documented as buyers examined dolphins purchased by Taiji Whale Museum — one of Taiji’s three captive facilities. The dolphins were being held both at the Whale Museum and in Taiji’s harbor pens.

An estimated five dolphins are being transferred, including trained dolphins from Taiji Whale Museum and untrained dolphins taken directly from the harbor pens.

Based on information gathered by the Cove Guardians, Sea Shepherd believes that these dolphins will be transported to a marine park within Japan and not outside of the country, though their precise destination is not yet known. Sea Shepherd is calling upon its supporters within Japan to help identify the identity of the buyers who purchased the transferred dolphins as well as the dolphins’ final destination within Japan.

The transfer process is a frightening and stressful experience for dolphins and whales, who spend hours or even days confined to tiny, dark, coffin-like crates on the moving transport trucks. Depending on the final destination, the Cove Guardians expect that the transfer of these bottlenose dolphins could take up to several days.

In addition to the stress of the transfer process, dolphins and small whales captured in Taiji have already been through a horrific nightmare by the time they are loaded onto trucks and taken to their new marine prisons. When a pod is driven into Taiji’s killing cove, the killers and trainers work side-by-side to select the “prettiest” dolphins and whales — those without visible scars — to be sold for captivity. As the Cove Guardians have documented repeatedly, the captive selection process occurs simultaneously to the slaughter process. The newly captive cetaceans are forced to witness the murder of the other members of their pod, swimming in the blood of their own family.

A transfer truck prepared to transport bottlenose dolphins in tiny, coffin-like cratesA transfer truck prepared to transport bottlenose dolphins in tiny, coffin-like crates
Photo: Sea Shepherd
“The Cove Guardians continue to document the inextricable link between the captive industry and Taiji’s brutal slaughter of wild, migrating dolphins and small whales. Taiji town in Japan has proven to be ground zero for the international trade in captive cetaceans,” said Sea Shepherd Senior Cove Guardian Campaign Leader, Melissa Sehgal.

“Bottlenose dolphins are especially lucrative in the captive trade. A bottlenose who has already been ‘trained’ to perform tricks for food can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Selling these dolphins marks a big payday for the greedy Taiji trainers,” Sehgal added.

The Cove Guardians have confirmed that the bottlenose dolphins currently being transferred were captured during the 2013-2014 hunt season.

For a staggering six months of each year – from September until March – entire family units, or pods, of dolphins and small whales at a time are driven into Taiji’s killing cove. Banger poles are hit against the side of the hunting boats to create a “wall of sound,” disorienting the sound-sensitive marine mammals and making it nearly impossible for them to escape the drive. Once netted into the cove, the dolphins and whales face brutal slaughter or a lifetime in captivity. In a drive just as stressful as the drive into the cove, remaining pod members — usually juveniles and infants — are driven back out to sea with little hope of survival on their own.

Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians are the only group on the ground in Taiji every day throughout the entire six-month hunting season, documenting and live streaming every capture and every slaughter for the world to see. The

2014-2015 season marks the fifth year of Operation Infinite Patience, and the Cove Guardians will not stop shining a spotlight on this atrocity until the slaughter ends.

**CALL TO ACTION**: Melissa Sehgal and the Cove Guardians are asking Sea Shepherd’s dedicated supporters in Japan to help these bottlenose dolphins, who have already endured such tragic loss and suffering.

Please help Sea Shepherd and the dolphins by helping us identify:

  • The identities of the buyers of the captive bottlenose dolphins

  • Any aquariums or marine parks in Japan currently expecting the arrival of new dolphins

Please send any relevant information to Sea Shepherd at: coveguardian@seashepherd.org.

Thank you for your concern for the dolphins!

Cove Guardians
Visit our
Cove Guardians
site for more information.

Nov 12, 2014

Six Species of Sharks Awarded Long-Awaited Protections By CMS

Photo: Juan Carlos BaldaPhoto: Juan Carlos BaldaLast weekend brought an important milestone for sharks. On Sunday, November 9, 2014 several shark species were finally granted protection under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The newly protected sharks include all three thresher species (genus alopias), the silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis), and both the great (Sphyrna mokarran) and scalloped (Sphyrna lewini) hammerhead sharks.

The protections were established during the eleventh Conference of the Parties to the CMS treaty (CoP11), which met in Quito, Ecuador to discuss global action to improve the conservation status of migratory species.

Migratory sharks are taken in targeted fisheries, primarily for their meat and fins, but also for their cartilage, liver and skin. These vital apex predators also fall victim to fisheries as unintended by-catch. The depletion of sharks in the world’s oceans is a reality that has been acknowledged as alarming by CMS. Sharks, rays and sawfish accounted for 21 of the 31 approved proposals for new listings in the CMS Appendices.

The new environmental protections are an important legal development that follow recent scientific studies suggesting a grim scenario for sharks. According to an assessment by the IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG), published in January 2014, of the world’s more than 1,000 shark and ray species, an estimated one quarter are threatened. In addition, a 2013 study titled “Global catches, exploitation rates, and rebuilding options for sharks” suggests that between 63 million and a staggering 273 million sharks are killed each year, globally. A 2006 report also estimated that 26 million to 73 million sharks are killed annually just to supply the global shark fin market. These data are compiled in an official CMS resolution. The alarming decline in shark populations, long a concern amongst environmental activists, has been acknowledged in the world of science — and now by international law.

Photo: Nicolás VeraPhoto: Nicolás VeraThe shark species now provided protection will be listed in CMS Appendix II as “migratory species which have an unfavorable conservation status and which require international agreements for their conservation and management.” This means that countries whose territories include migratory routes for these species will need to, among other measures, cooperate in protecting, conserving and restoring migratory habitats, as well as to eliminate activities and obstacles which hinder or impede migration.

Although of global scale and impact, the listing of these shark species is particularly relevant and important in certain areas, such as the Galapagos Marine Reserve, where hammerhead sharks are the very symbol of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Godfrey Merlen, long-time resident of the Galapagos Islands and current Sea Shepherd Galapagos Director of Operations said, “There are few places left on Earth where shark populations are anywhere near their numbers of 100 years ago. The Galapagos Marine Reserve is surely one of these places, where sharks are able to play their vital role as top predators in the marine ecosystem. Ensuring the survival of these sharks will help to create ecological stability in a place renowned for its unique marine wildlife.”

The CMS regulations will not only provide international coordination to conserve migratory shark habitats in neighboring range areas, such as the Galapagos Islands and Cocos Island in Costa Rica, but it will also provide important tools to strengthen law enforcement. Hugo Echeverría, head of Sea Shepherd’s environmental law project in the Galapagos said, “CMS will provide guiding elements for the application of environmental law inside the Galapagos Marine Reserve, including the recently adopted Penal Code of Ecuador, which sanctions illegal fisheries of marine species listed by international treaties, such as CMS. In Galapagos, sharks are absolutely protected by law and per by-law.”

CMS is an international treaty that aims to conserve wildlife throughout their migratory routes. To date, 120 states are Parties to this 1979 treaty. Among the marine wildlife protected under CMS, are sharks, whales, rays and other migratory marine species.

For more information on CMS, please visit: Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals

IUCN - A quarter of sharks and rays threatened with extinction

Governments Commit to Step up Action for Migratory Animals at UN Wildlife Conference

Convention Text

Photo: Nicolás VeraPhoto: Nicolás Vera

Photo: Nicolás VeraPhoto: Nicolás Vera

Nov 07, 2014

Defending Pacuare’s Sea Turtles Helps the Community

By Erick Saldana, Sea Shepherd Costa Rica

Erick on Operation PacuareErick defending sea turtles
on Operation Pacuare
Photo: Sea Shepherd
Volunteering for Operacion Pacuare has being a great lesson for me. I have always loved nature, and been fascinated by our planet, and all living creatures that share a home with us.

This fascination has driven me to learn more about our home. The more I learned, the more confused I became. I always had problems understanding society, and the way development is affecting the environment. At the end, my conclusion is that society is moved by the greed of a few. As a human, I realize that we are linked together, and every action counts, so here I am, doing what I love doing by helping "Pachamama" (mother earth).

Having been a part of Operacion Pacuare since the very beginning has been a privilege. The satisfaction of seeing a leatherback turtle for the first time, or the release of hundreds of hawksbill hatchlings, or the relocation of a green turtle nest, have all been amazing experiences. But the most rewarding feeling of this campaign is realizing that by saving the marine turtles we are also helping the people, educating future generations, creating awareness in the community about the danger of extinction that marine turtles face, and how the protection of marine turtles could have a positive impact on their lives and the community’s economy.

Pacuare is land that belongs to no one, located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica…ruled by its own laws, with no police or basic services like drinkable water, electricity, or cell phone coverage. It’s an unprotected village for turtles, and the few people that call it home. Sea Shepherd Costa Rica came with the objective of defending, conserving and protecting the marine turtle, but it’s hard to defend, conserve, and protect the marine turtle without working with the community. They are intrinsically linked together in symbiosis since the beginning of Pacuare.

Working with locals to help enforce the national laws, and meeting a new generation of volunteers from all over the globe who dream of a better future, makes me believe that there is hope that maybe one day, this innocent creature will no longer be in danger and that communities like Pacuare will coexist together with turtles as their most appreciated guest. Who knows? Maybe one day there will not be a need for us to take care of the turtles; in the meantime, I will work for that day here.

I want to thank our fallen hero for his work protecting marine turtles, and the legacy he has left for future generations. RIP Jairo Mora Sandoval (March 22, 1987 – May 31, 2013).

Operation Pacuare
Visit our
Operation Pacuare
site for more information.

Nov 06, 2014

They Slaughter Dolphins, Don’t They?

Commentary by Erwin Vermeulen

“Abundant” and “common” are the whale killers’ favorite words, after “sustainable.” In their vocabulary, “abundant” means: “we have no idea how many animals there are, but we are going to claim, without scientific evidence, that there are enough for us to continue killing them.”
~ Erwin Vermeulen

A pod of dolphins shortly after slaughterA pod of dolphins shortly after slaughter
Photo: Sea Shepherd
That besides their proud tradition of killing entire pods of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas, Grindahvalur in Faroes), the men-with-knives in the Faroes also slaughter large families of smaller dolphin species, is an uneasy subject on the islands. The two main publications in English on the subject of the drive hunt — Dorete Bloch’s ‘Pilot whales and the whale drive’ from 2007 and Joan Pauli Joensen’s ‘Pilot whaling in the Faroe Islands’ from 2009 — completely ignore the other dolphin species that are driven into the bays and butchered on the beaches of these ferocious isles.

Some of the locals are in complete denial and refute that dolphins are being killed at all; others maintain it is rare and only happens to dolphins that beach themselves and are thus put out of their misery and fully utilized for food.

Others still, follow the line of the publication ‘Marine Mammals in Faroese Waters,’ that basically blames the death of these smaller dolphin species on their habit of mingling with pilot whales:

“The bottlenose dolphin is the third species that often mixes with pilot whales and, thus, this species is also occasionally harvested.”

Of course, all of these assertions are lies. As in Taiji, Japan, dolphins are specifically targeted, driven and killed in the Faroe Islands.

On August 13, 2013, a staggering 430 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were massacred in HvalbaOn August 13, 2013, a staggering 430 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were
massacred in Hvalba
Photo: Sea Shepherd
In a recent press release from the Faroese Prime Minister’s Office titled: “Sea Shepherd activists arrested for disturbing a group of dolphins near Tórshavn,” the Faroese government hesitantly admits that much when referring to the Atlantic white-sided dolphins that Sea Shepherd’s RIB Spitfire escorted away from the deadly beaches:

“Individual animals occasionally occur together with schools of pilot whales, while separate schools are also sometimes driven and beached…”

“Sometimes” doesn’t really apply to the massacre of Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus, Hvítskjórutir springari in Faroese) in the Faroe Islands:

On August 13, 2013, a staggering 430 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were massacred in Hvalba, on the southern island of Suduroy. The photos accompanying this commentary are from that day. The same village killed fourteen individuals on August 30, 2010. In 2009, on August 22, a family of 100 was killed in Øravik on the same island.

The list goes on:

Date Location Dolphins Slaughtered

26/08/2006

Hvalba

223

24/08/2006

Hvalba

3

14/08/2006

Hvalba

27

08/08/2006

Klaksvik

327

22/07/2006

Trongisvagur

6

22/02/2006

Hvalvik

1

16/08/2005

Hvalba

22 in pod with 49 pilot whales

12/08/2005

Sandavagur

12

12/08/2005

Fuglafjordur

271

07/08/2005

Trongisvagur

22

06/05/2005

Aeduvik

1

16/04/2005

Hvannasund

7

18/09/2004

Hvannasund

5

09/09/2004

Runavik

7

08/09/2004

Klaksvik

291

28/08/2004

Sydrugota

24

21/08/2004

Bordoyarvik

6

12/09/2003

Klaksvik

20

06/09/2003

Tvøroyri

6

06/09/2003

Hvannasund

50

05/09/2003

Torshavn

6

26/08/2003

Hvalvik

104

27/09/2002

Vestmanna

16

26/09/2002

Vestmanna

26

23/09/2002

Hvalba

99

17/09/2002

Hvannasund

148

17/09/2002

Sydrugota

110

16/09/2002

Torshavn

11

14/09/2002

Vagur

280

03/09/2002

Hvalba

42

03/09/2002

Hvalvik

36

19/08/2002

Hvannasund

6

22/09/2001

Klaksvik

55

21/09/2001

Hvalba

325

18/09/2001

Torshavn

46

17/09/2001

Sydrugota

48

06/09/2001

Klaksvik

26

05/09/2001

Hvannasund

18

30/06/2001

Klaksvik

8

04/09/2000

Hvalba

13

30/08/2000

Vagur

186

22/08/2000

Klaksvik

66

22/09/1998

Hovsfjordur

36

22/09/1998

Trongisvagur

219

13/09/1998

Fuglafjordur

16

27/07/1998

Famjin

167

23/10/1997

Klaksvik

6

14/10/1997

Torshavn

21

14/10/1997

Hvalvik

24

14/10/1997

Hvalvik

19

30/09/1997

Hvannasund

7

26/09/1997

Sydrugota

16

05/09/1997

Nolsoy

12

29/08/1997

Funningsfjordur

65

28/08/1997

Sydrugota

22

21/08/1997

Klaksvik

158

19/10/1996

Hvalvik

26

07/10/1996

Porkeri

6

06/10/1996

Porkeri

9

05/10/1996

Vagur

30

09/09/1996

Funningsfjordur

13

25/08/1996

Torshavn

19

12/08/1996

Klaksvik

49

04/09/1995

Hvalvik

3

26/08/1995

Hvannasund

41

20/08/1995

Fuglafjordur

110

01/08/1995

Hvalvik

3

04/10/1994

Hvalvik

5

18/09/1994

Hvalba

10

17/09/1994

Torshavn

10

14/09/1994

Vagur

20

04/09/1994

Kollafjordur

15

04/09/1994

Hvalvik

58

25/09/1993

Vagur

100

24/09/1993

Vestmanna

15

20/09/1993

Fuglafjordur

199

30/08/1993

Sydrugota

12

05/08/1993

Hvalvik

12

17/07/1993

Hvannasund

19

13/07/1993

Husavik

35

04/07/1992

Klaksvik

2 in pod of 150 pilot whales

It is not “sometimes.” These are not rare occasions, and it is not just unlucky dolphins accompanying pilot whales.

These dolphins were slaughtered and marked in similar fashion to the pilot whales hunted during a grindThese dolphins were slaughtered and marked in similar fashion to the pilot whales hunted during a grind
Photo: Sea Shepherd
1992 is when the public record (Grindayvirlit) starts when it comes to the hunting of smaller dolphin species. The list of pilot whale killings goes back to 1709 and fragmented even to 1584. This might be where the uneasiness on the subject originates. The defense and continuation of the grindadrap relies largely on the fallacy of the “appeal to tradition” — the assumption that something is good and should continue, just because it has been done for a long time.

Did a truly organized hunt of smaller dolphins not start until the 1990s? Were these smaller dolphins only taken as part of pilot whale hunts before the 1990s and unworthy of mentioning in the records? Or are the famed historical grind records not as accurate as claimed?

There is not much evidence that the slaughter of smaller dolphins should be labeled an “ancient tradition.” Hunting these faster species would have been difficult in any case before motorized boats.

The earlier mentioned study ‘Marine Mammals in Faroese Waters’ reports that 6,476 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were “harvested” (their words) in the period 1872 – 2000, without mentioning the source. For bottlenose dolphins, “whaling statistics record a harvest of 943 individuals from 1803 to 2000” — again without a source.

The public-accessible list for bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncates, Hvessingur in Faroes) is shorter:

Date Location Dolphins Slaughtered

07/08/2006

Sydrugota

9

22/02/2006

Sydrugota

8 in a pod a 29 pilot whales

17/09/2002

Klaksvik

11

17/09/2002

Klaksvik

7

17/08/2001

Klaksvik

6

18/09/1996

Hvalvik

2

27/08/1996

Hvalba

19

02/09/1994

Hvalvik

8

16/09/1993

Midvagur

12 in a pod of 178 Pilot whales

24/08/1993

Hvannasund

4

14/10/1991

Midvagur

62 among 127 pilot whales

The IUCN, the organization that assesses the wildlife on the Red List of Threatened Species, says about the dolphin killing in the Faroes:

“No assessment is associated with the Faroese hunting of white-sided dolphins, but there is no evidence that this aspect of the drive fishery has a long history, such as that of the pilot whale component (Reeves et al. 2003).”

The press release from the Faroese Prime Minister’s Office parrots the propagandist whaling.fo website by claiming:

“White-sided dolphins are a commonly occurring and abundant species around the Faroe Islands and as such they are not protected.”

And:

“In addition to white-sided dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises are also common in Faroese waters, and may be caught for food…”

“Abundant” and “common” are the whale killers’ favorite words, after “sustainable.” In their vocabulary, “abundant” means: “we have no idea how many animals there are, but we are going to claim, without scientific evidence, that there are enough for us to continue killing them.”

Instead of elaborating on this “abundance,” the press release suffices with:

“The Scientific Committee of NAMMCO (the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission; an assembly of marine mammal killing nations) has been requested to provide a comprehensive assessment of this species in the North Atlantic.”

The latest surveys are from the mid-1990s and all they taught us was, as is so often the case, that we know very little:

Dolphins being lifted by a crane shortly after a slaughterDolphins being lifted by a crane
shortly after being slaughtered
Photo: Sea Shepherd
“North Atlantic Sightings Surveys (NASS) research shows that cetaceans do not occupy the same area year after year. NASS data is available for 1987, 1989, and 1995. The various species were found distributed in about the same areas in 1987 and 1989, but the 1995 survey showed that the abundance of some species was significantly different for some areas. This variation indicates that observations and surveys in the North-east Atlantic Ocean do not give a permanent picture of the distribution and abundance of whale species, but rather are snapshots of distribution patterns occurring in a changing environment according to long-term climatic oscillations in combination with possible man-made impacts.”

This quote comes again from the ‘Marine Mammals in Faroese Waters’ report that was initiated, not to prove abundance, but because “with the emergence of oil industry activity in the region of the Faroe Islands and the establishment of an Environmental Impact Assessment Program, it is necessary to review current knowledge on the marine environment and the gaps that exist in that body of knowledge…”

They even have a chapter named ‘Main Gaps in Knowledge’ that lists that “the second significant gap in our knowledge is the poor understanding of the distribution and abundance patterns of the smaller dolphin species in the Faroese area.”

On bottlenose dolphins it says:

“…no calculation of abundance has been made thus far. A very cautious estimate of the number of bottlenose dolphins in the Faroese area is around 1,000 individuals.”

Is that a good enough “abundance” to go ahead and catch as many as you can? Remember that, unlike Japan, the Faroes do not set quota limitations.

A bit further in the text, the general conclusion is:

“A lack of controlled data, therefore, has made it difficult to determine the exact number of smaller dolphin species, such as the white-sided dolphin, the white-beaked dolphin, the bottlenose dolphin, and the harbour porpoise, as well as rarely occurring species. Thus, there exits a major gap in our knowledge as to the distribution and abundance patterns of all the smaller cetacean species.”

In other words: the Faroese government is lying when it claims abundance or sustainability in the drive hunt.

Besides that, they don’t really seem to know which dolphin species can be killed. The press release and government website mention Atlantic white-sided and bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises, besides the long-finned pilot whales.

The February 2014 NAMMCO ‘manual on pilot whale hunting in the Faroe Islands’ produced in cooperation with Faroese Chief Veterinarian Justines Olsen and the Grindamannafelagið (Pilot Whalers’ Association), includes the following species: long-finned pilot whale, bottlenose dolphin, white-beaked dolphin and white-sided dolphin.

The harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena, Nisa in Faroese) is absent here, maybe because the killers prefer to shoot these, instead of driving them.

Public info on the numbers taken is very limited. In the Grindayvirlit 1584 - 2014 list, 01/11/2006, Klaksvik, 1 individual, seems to be the only non-stranding entry. Two harbour porpoises are mentioned in the grind tally of 2003, but without a date or location.

The white-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhyncus albirostris, Kjafthvitir springari in Faroese) is added here, even though the public record only lists one instance of white-beaked dolphins being driven and killed: a family of 44 individuals that was massacred in Hvalvik on 05/10/1992.

The extremely limited knowledge about dolphin species on the part of the killers and the lack of enforcement of the law and regulations by the Faroese government came to light during the massacres of Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus, Rissospringari in Faroese) in Klaksvík on 16 September 2009 and in Hvalba on 13 April 2010. The hunting of Risso’s dolphins is forbidden and they are easily distinguished from pilot whales or any of the smaller dolphin species — as any Cove Guardian can tell you.

In Klaksvik, after three animals were killed, the local authorities stopped the drive and ordered the rest of the group to be driven out again.

There was no one around to save the 21 Risso’s that got driven into the bay of Hvalba. It was later claimed that the Risso’s were mistaken for bottlenose dolphins.

The reaction of the Faroese government:

“After the two incidental catches in 2009 and 2010, the relevant district authorities have been advised by the Ministry of Fisheries that particular precaution should be taken to ensure that no further drive hunts of this species are initiated.”

Faroese law protected the orca (Orcinus orca, Bóghvituhvalur in Faroese) in 1986. 21 were butchered in Klaksvik on 06/18/1978. The long, agonizing suffering of these animals can be viewed on YouTube: "Faroe Islands" whale slaughter "The Grind" Orca.

That smaller dolphins would be anymore suitable as food than pilot whales is quickly dismissed by the IUCN:

“Like other North Atlantic marine mammals, White-beaked Dolphins and Atlantic white-sided Dolphins are contaminated by organochlorines, other anthropogenic compounds and heavy metals (Reeves et al. 1999)…”

As shown above, the dolphin hunt is not a tradition, the smaller dolphins are not by-catch of the pilot whale hunt, sustainability claims are unfounded and the meat is unsuitable as food.

There is no need to kill these animals and no justification.

It is just one more fallacy that, because there are other threats to cetaceans (pollution, fisheries, oil industry, climate change, etc), that would be an argument to allow the slaughter to continue.

Operation GrindStop
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Operation GrindStop 2014
site for more information.

Nov 06, 2014

Shearwaters - Poacher to Savior

For nearly 30 years, Gil Fortes was a poacher of shearwater chicks, birds brought to the edge of extinction. He now finds himself following in the footsteps of daughter, Isabel Fortes (Bella), to save the Cabo Verde shearwater.


Translation provided by Rosi Lima

In his own words...

Isobel (Bella) and father Gil Rodrigues. Photo: Simon Ager / Sea ShepherdIsobel (Bella) and father Gil Rodrigues
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager
I have been a fisherman for most of my life, from the age of 16. I started catching shearwaters in 1976. When I wasn’t catching shearwaters, I was fishing.

I came from a poor family; our parents were unable to afford us an education. In the village where I live, it was a tradition to catch the shearwaters going back many generations. My father did this all his life.

We looked at the shearwater as not only food, but they also made us very good money. The shearwaters were good business; I would make 200 Euros in eight days. With the money, we fed our families and paid all our debts in one month. When we stopped catching the shearwater, we had a lot of trouble with money, the family and the village.

The month of October was the time when shearwaters would have their chicks. We had three boats and 24 fishermen who would come to the island of Raso. In the beginning, each boat was taking about 2,500 shearwater chicks, so we were taking more than 7,500 chicks in one season. On the island there were roughly 10,000-12,000 chicks.

Head of Shearwater. Photo: Bisofera 1Head of Shearwater
File Photo: Biosfera1
As time went on we saw those numbers become smaller and smaller; we were catching less than half the number of chicks from when we first started. We saw that the shearwater was becoming extinct, and we knew what we were doing was wrong.

Our conscience started playing with us; we felt bad about what we were doing. It was then that we really thought about the effects of our actions — it was time to stop.

We have many economic troubles. Fishing doesn’t give us good money, and we think a lot about how we are going to feed our families. Sometimes we would think about coming back to Raso, but I know we cannot come here again to catch the shearwaters. We need to do something different to survive and also help the shearwaters.

Now I do campaigns and I try to educate the people. I explain how we killed shearwaters and why we had to stop. I explain how it was to see the huge piles of dead shearwaters. It is difficult for many to understand because catching the shearwaters helped all the families and the village to survive, so people don’t like us because we stopped.

It is very important to do campaigns to educate the people. I speak with other fishermen too. In Santo Antão (Sinagoga), the people like to eat shearwater. It is important to me to try to explain why we cannot continue doing this.

I started working with Biosfera on campaigns; it was this connection that saw my daughter, Bella join them a few years later. After she became a marine biologist, she started her work with Biosfera and the shearwaters on the island of Raso. Because of her work, she was able to give me more information about what was happening.

Bella has always loved the sea. She has known the shearwaters all her life, and now she works to preserve them. Her influence was very strong — the fishermen stopped coming. They would think about returning after she leaves, thinking that they will return some day when the shearwaters grow up and the population is healthy again.

Now they know this is not an option, and it is not talked about anymore. I am so very proud of Bella’s work!

Using my experience, this year I have been assisting with the conservation program, locating 4,836 chicks on the island and more than 9,000 mature adults.

We have many years before the birds are back to their original numbers. Assisting my daughter is my way of helping to make things right again, to better myself and be better than my father.

Bisofera 1 and Sea Shepherd will maintain a physical presence on the island as a poaching deterrent until the middle of November. The first two weeks will see the juvenile shearwaters migrate from Raso.

Mountain of Shearwater carcasses. Photo: Bisofera 1Mountain of Shearwater carcasses (archive)
File Photo: Biosfera1
Shearwaters being defeathered. Photo: Bisofera 1Shearwaters being defeathered (archive)
File Photo: Biosfera1

Nov 05, 2014

Dr. Roger Payne Cites Pollution as the Greatest Problem Facing Whales Today

Dr. Roger PayneDr. Roger Payne
Photo: Sea Shepherd
For more than four decades, environmentalist, Dr. Roger Payne, famous in the scientific world for discovering that humpback whales sing and communicate across the world’s oceans, has known a thing or two about the plight of the great whales and the oceans. He contends that while it is crucial to get whaling under control, whales now face a potentially greater problem — pollution.

Not only is Dr. Payne an active board member of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, he is also the founder of Ocean Alliance, a non-profit ocean and whale conservation organization focusing on benign whale research. Therefore, it was quite fitting for Sea Shepherd and Ocean Alliance to team up for their Operation Toxic Gulf campaign. In the summer of 2010, Ocean Alliance undertook this campaign in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon blowout to research the effects upon Gulf of Mexico marine life, and Sea Shepherd was on board for the last two collaborative seasons, concluding their participation this past August. The campaign data and findings are being analyzed for a joint report expected to be issued in 2015.

“It’s absolutely essential for scientists to work with organizations that can get the word out. I’ve known Sea Shepherd for years. They do extraordinary work. People at Sea Shepherd have mastered the art of getting the world’s attention…something that can highly benefit scientists,” said Dr. Payne.

Sea Shepherd and Ocean Alliance have been gathering samples from sperm whales in the Gulf of Mexico to understand the long-term effects of the dispersants used to mask the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, the worst ecological disaster in U.S. history.

“We’re studying sperm whales because like people, they are at the top of the food chain. What we learn about sperm whales, is also undoubtedly true for humans,” Dr. Payne explained. “The most important functions of life are controlled by a series of hormones, and some substances (synthetic man-made molecules), are affecting hormone concentrations and abilities of hormones to work with cells in such a way that’s devastating to organisms.”

The findings from the years of dedicated research should help determine the current state of the Gulf’s ecosystem, and perhaps more importantly, yield ways to help it recover from the pollution that it has thus far sustained.

"My feeling about Sea Shepherd is that what the world needs to hear is the truth and when the world does hear the truth, how does it respond? It attacks it with everything its got. I think this is an extraordinary organization of brave people who do important work at the absolute root of the cause of the problems in this world and that they should be respected and understood and so I’m now going to be spending a lot of my time trying to make that happen. The oceans are important to all of us because every second breath you take contains oxygen that was produced by plants from the sea and everything that happens in the ocean affects everything that happens on the land. If we destroy the base of the ocean by filling it with toxic pollutants, we will destroy ourselves. That will be the end of human civilization. I want to see people if possible working to help save the oceans and there’s no group that does it with more effect I think at the moment than Sea Shepherd."

Meet Dr. Roger Payne (With Music)

Meet Dr. Roger Payne (Without Music)

Operation Toxic Gulf
Visit our
Operation Toxic Gulf
site for more information.

Nov 04, 2014

Killers Drive First Bottlenose Pod of the Hunt Season Into the Cove During Taiji Whale Festival Celebration

The Terrified Bottlenose Trapped in the Cove Endured Crowds of Festival-Goers Before Facing Captive Selection and Slaughter the Next Day; the Bottlenose Slaughter Was Immediately Followed the Next Day by the Capture and Slaughter of a Family of Risso’s Dolphins

Taiji Whale Festival celebration continues as a pod of bottlenose dolphins is driven into the killing coveTaiji Whale Festival celebration continues as a pod of bottlenose dolphins is driven into the killing cove
Photo: Sea Shepherd
On Sunday, November 2 (Japan time), the first bottlenose dolphin pod of the hunt season was driven into Taiji’s infamous killing cove. The hunting boats generally leave port by no later than 6:30 am, and by 7:30 that morning, there were no signs of the fleet’s departure. However, even during the celebration of the Taiji Whale Festival — usually a day without hunting — the greed of Taiji’s dolphin killers knew no limits, and the killers drove a pod into the cove late that morning as festival-goers looked on. Even the highly sought-after bottlenose were not enough to even temporarily satisfy the killers as they soon followed up the bottlenose capture and kill with the capture and slaughter of a family of Risso’s dolphins on Tuesday, November 4 (Japan time).

A celebration of whalers and their catch — not whales — the Whale Festival placed Taiji’s hypocrisy on full display for all to see, as a nightmare for the bottlenose played out in the cove.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Cove Guardians documented and live streamed to the world as the pod was driven toward Taiji Harbor. The sounds of music and celebration from the festival could be heard as the panicked dolphins were netted into the cove. As it became clear that this was a pod of 20-25 bottlenose dolphins, the Cove Guardians knew that there would likely be a captive selection process and that these dolphins may be forced to spend hours in the cove awaiting their inescapable fate of captivity or slaughter.

Bottlenose dolphins are highly sought-after for the captive trade, as they are in high demand by aquariums and marine parks around the world. They represent a large payday for both the dolphin hunters and trainers in Taiji, who work side-by-side to select the “prettiest” dolphins — those without visible nicks or scars — for captivity in one of Taiji’s three captive facilities or at other marine parks around the world. It is the global demand for captive dolphins and whales that fuels the slaughter in Taiji.

The frantic bottlenose pod is held in the cove for nearly 20 hours, before facing captivity or slaughterThe frantic bottlenose pod is held in the cove for nearly 20 hours, before facing
captivity or slaughter
Photo: Sea Shepherd
The dolphins were held overnight without food or shelter, but not before being forced to endure the stares of crowds of festival-goers who were brought into the cove on the hunting boats to see the frightened dolphins, who had already suffered through the long and stressful drive into the cove.

“Not only were the members of this dolphin family torn from each other’s sides to be sold into captive slavery or slaughtered for human consumption, but these terrified animals were surrounded by gawking onlookers, joy-riding in the very boats that drove this pod into the cove,” said Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian Leader on the Ground, Dave Hance. “These heartless killers show no respect or compassion for the wild dolphins and whales who are swimming free until they make the mistake of swimming past Taiji’s deadly shores.”

The captive selection and slaughter took place Monday morning, November 3 (Japan time), after the dolphins were held for nearly 20 hours in the cove. Of the 20-25 dolphins, approximately 11 were slaughtered with a metal spike to their spinal cord and five were taken into captivity. The new captives — who had just witnessed the brutal killing of their family — were transferred via skiff for a life of imprisonment as the bodies of the slaughtered dolphins were transferred to the butcherhouse for processing.

The remaining four members of the pod — juveniles and babies — were taken back out to sea and dumped there, left to fend for themselves. The vulnerable young dolphins driven back to sea following Taiji’s brutal hunts have little to no chance of survival without the protection of their mothers and pod, and may die of starvation or fall prey to predators.

Even as the pod of bottlenose dolphins faced captive selection and slaughter in the cove, hunting boats were out at sea in search of more dolphins or small whales, proving once gain that the greed and violence never stop in Taiji. The hunters were unable to locate another pod, and returned empty-handed.

However, the waters of the cove soon ran red once again, as the decimation of this beautiful bottlenose dolphin family was quickly followed by another slaughter. The following day, Tuesday November 4 (Japan time), a pod of approximately 20 Risso’s dolphins was driven into the cove and met their demise. 17 Risso’s were quickly slaughtered, and 3 juveniles were driven back out to sea — left to fend for themselves after enduring the trauma and stress of the hunt that claimed their mothers’ lives.

This was the tenth Risso’s pod driven into the cove since the beginning of the hunt season in September, and Risso’s represent the majority of the slaughters that have taken place thus far. According to the Cove Guardians, approximately 111 cetaceans have been killed — 85 Risso’s dolphins, 11 bottlenose dolphins and 15 pilot whales.

For a staggering six months of each year – from September until March – entire family units, or pods, of dolphins and small whales at a time are driven into Taiji’s killing cove. Banger poles are hit against the side of the hunting boats to create a “wall of sound,” disorienting the sound-sensitive marine mammals and making it nearly impossible for them to escape the drive. Once netted into the cove, the dolphins and whales face brutal slaughter or a lifetime in captivity. The Cove Guardians have repeatedly documented that the captive selection process occurs simultaneously to the slaughter. In a drive just as stressful as the drive into the cove, remaining pod members — usually juveniles and infants — are driven back out to sea with little hope of survival on their own.

Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians are the only group on the ground in Taiji every day throughout the entire six-month hunting season, documenting and live streaming every capture and every slaughter for the world to see. The 2014-2015 season marks the fifth year of Operation Infinite Patience, and the Cove Guardians will not stop shining a spotlight on this atrocity until the slaughter ends.

Cove Guardians
Visit our
Cove Guardians
site for more information.

Nov 03, 2014

Sea Shepherd’s Sea Turtle Defense Campaign on Cabo Verde Comes to an End

Biologist Rosi Lima releases a baby turtleBiologist Rosi Lima releases a baby turtle
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s turtle defense campaign on the island of Santa Lucia, Cabo Verde, has officially come to an end for 2014. This year’s collaboration between Sea Shepherd and Biosfera 1, a local non-governmental organization, has made a fantastic example of cooperation between likeminded NGOs working together for the preservation of key species on Cabo Verde’s islands of Santa Luzia and Raso.

Although 341 loggerhead sea turtle nests were tagged this year, this number is one of the lowest recorded during this ten-year-long project. Researchers and volunteers assisted 25 of the tagged control nests for the scientific study, which means they protected the nests and assisted the hatchlings. These efforts resulted in the safe release of roughly 2,500 loggerhead hatchlings into the waters off of Francisca and Achados Beaches.

Our nightly beach patrols with Biosfera 1 protected countless mature female turtles who came to nest on the beaches in the dead of night. Thankfully, we did not find any wandering the desert this year as has happened in years past. One mature female turtle was found entangled in fishing nets, but released safely back to the ocean.

Baby turtle meets it fate at the hands of a ghost crabBaby turtle meets it fate
at the hands of a ghost crab
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager
We intercepted hundreds of disoriented and trapped hatchlings, saved them from the sun’s searing heat and hungry ghost crabs, and had the pleasure of releasing them safely into the waters at sundown.

We loaded our baskets full of hatchlings under the cover of night. Atop the dunes with golden sand, as the sun lowers into the ocean, hundreds of seemingly inanimate little bodies spring to life.

Smelling the sea air, instinct takes over as they clamber over one another in a mad dash for the ocean. We see thousands of tiny flippers carving sandy tracks, as the sweeping surf picks up the first arrivals and whisks them off to whatever fate awaits them. Some are spat back out onto the beach. We offer a helping hand, assisting them past the surf as they attempt to begin the next phase of their new, unpredictable life.

Sadly, not all are as fortunate. They will smell and taste the ocean, clambering to reach it, but they will never feel it envelop them. Mountains of garbage on Achados Beach will consume them as they struggle to navigate what should be a pristine beach en route to the waiting ocean.

Our base camp is now dismantled, and the area has been returned to its natural state. In the coming days, we will return to the north beach of Achados. With assistance from the Cabo Verde Navy, we aim to spend seven days removing the most obstructive garbage from three kilometers of beaches.

Sea Shepherd will remain on the island of Raso, to protect the endangered shearwater juveniles and maintain a visible anti-poaching presence. The next two weeks will see the birds migrate from the island.

Baby turtles waiting to be releasedBaby turtles waiting to be released
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager

Baby turtles scramble from the basket to the oceanBaby turtles scramble from the basket to the ocean
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager

baby turtle heads to the oceanBaby turtle heads to the ocean
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager

baby turtle heads to the oceanBaby turtle heads to the ocean
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager

Baby turtles scramble for the oceanBaby turtles scramble for the ocean
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager

Deceased baby turtles recovered from amongst the garabge of Achados beachDeceased baby turtles recovered from amongst the garabge of Achados beach
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager