Taiji Dolphins: The Truth Behind the Tarps Exhibit inside Encore

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Friday night Sea Shepherd Conservation Society hosted a VIP reception inside Encore at Wynn Las Vegas for the presentation of the gallery exhibit – Taiji Dolphins: The Truth Behind the Tarps.

Claire Sinclair inside Sea Shepherd Exhibit at Encore
Claire Sinclair inside Sea Shepherd Exhibit at Encore

On hand to show their support for the organization’s efforts to raise awareness of the horrific annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan were Claire Sinclair, star of Pin Up and Playboy’s 2011 Playmate of the Year, Kevin Burke of Defending the Caveman, Patrick Murray of Ja-Makin’-Me-Laugh, Jodie McDonald and Danial Brown of LIMELIGHT and State Senator Mark Manendo.

Jodie McDonald and Danial Brown inside Sea Shepherd Exhibit at Encore
Jodie McDonald and Danial Brown inside Sea Shepherd Exhibit at Encore

Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians Erwin Vermeulen, who was jailed for 64 days in Taiji in 2011 for allegedly pushing a dolphin trainer and was later acquitted, and Scott West, former Cove Guardian leader and Director of Intelligence & Investigations for Sea Shepherd, were on hand along with Susan Hartland, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Executive Director and other Sea Shepherd executives and volunteers to share the need for awareness and action to stop this annual slaughter.

Erwin Vermeulen and Susan Hartland inside Sea Shepherd Exhibit at Encore
Erwin Vermeulen and Susan Hartland inside Sea Shepherd Exhibit at Encore

A live feed from Taiji was shown, where actress and dedicated Sea Shepherd supporter Shannen Doherty spoke to viewers from around the world, sharing that a pod of dolphins had just been driven into the cove to be captured or killed.

Shannen Doherty live stream from Taiji Japan inside Sea Shepherd Exhibit at Encore
Shannen Doherty live stream from Taiji Japan inside Sea Shepherd Exhibit at Encore

Taiji Dolphins: The Truth Behind the Tarps presents a gallery of 25 stark and graphic images by Sea Shepherd’s international volunteer crew, the Cove Guardians, during the annual Operation Infinite Patience Defense Campaign. In the small coastal town thousands of dolphins and small whales are captured for entertainment or killed for human consumption for six months of each year during the annual dolphin drive hunt.

Cove Guardian Erwin Vermeulen inside Sea Shepherd Exhibit at Encore
Cove Guardian Erwin Vermeulen inside Sea Shepherd Exhibit at Encore

Since 2010 Sea Shepherd has had an ongoing presence of volunteers from around the globe who remain on the ground in Taiji, documenting the slaughters in the Cove throughout the entire dolphin season. These ocean sentinels, known as Cove Guardians, document and report on the atrocities in the Cove to pressure Japan to end Taiji’s unnecessary hunt and capture of these incredibly intelligent, sentient beings. The exhibit is presented free of charge. Remaining gallery hours are: Saturday, September 20 until 8 pm and Sunday, September 21 from 10 am – 5 pm.

Kevin Burke and Patrick Murray inside Sea Shepherd Exhibit at Encore
Kevin Burke and Patrick Murray inside Sea Shepherd Exhibit at Encore

Photo credit: Karl Larson

Taiji Dolphins

Hardy Jones, who founded BlueVoice.org with film star Ted Danson in 2000, has gone to Taiji numerous times to try to stop the capture of dolphins and small whales. His film The Dolphin Defender, produced by the PBS series Nature documents these events.

A film titled The Cove (formerly The Rising) was secretly recorded over five years with high-tech video and sound equipment in Taiji. This full-length documentary was funded by billionaire James H. Clark and shows controversial dolphin killing techniques and discusses high mercury levels in Taiji dolphin meat. When the film won an Oscar, the mayor of Taiji and the chief of the Taiji Fishery Union said, “Dolphin and whale hunting in Taiji is not an illegal act, [it is] in compliance with the Fisheries Act and under Wakayama Prefecture’s approval.” Taiji town officials have also contested some of the scientific evidence presented by the film, and have claimed that the filmmakers deceived them on several points.

Since the release of the film, a larger number of activists, mainly non-Japanese, have visited Taiji to protest or film the dolphin hunts. The activists observe and monitor the hunting throughout the hunting season from September until it ends in April. The Taiji fishermen responded by constructing an elaborate structure of tarps to better conceal the drive-hunting activities in and around the cove. Activists report that they have been harassed when trying to document the hunts by local supporters of the dolphin fishermen. Although the culling cove is adjacent to Yoshino Kumano Kokuritsu Koen (Yoshino-Kumano National Park), the park is often sealed to visitors by the police during the hunts. In 2011, a police box staffed with 10 policemen was placed near the cove to prevent conflict between the protesters and the fishermen. – Wikipedia

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