Typhoon Roke Hits Taiji: Will Penned Dolphins Survive?

Typhoon Roke, the fifteenth such storm to strike Japan this season, has reached the shores of Taiji and is expected to dump heavy rain on the tiny Japanese fishing village for the next eight hours, according to Sea Shepherd’s Twitter account.

While the typhoon limited the local fishermen’s drive hunt to just 15 minutes today—during which no dolphins were killed—it remains to be seen if the 30 to 35 cetaceans held captive in sea pens at Hotel Dolphin Resort will survive the enormous storm.

As portrayed in The Cove, the Oscar-winning documentary starring activist Ric O’Barry, Taiji fishermen lure the dolphins into the waters of a secret inlet and weed out the ones worth selling to aquariums both in Japan and around the world.

The rest are harpooned and then butchered, their mercury-laden meat sold in supermarkets.

Arguing that the hunt is a traditional rite that dates back 400 years, local fishermen have continued to stand strong in the face severe international pressure to end the bloody ritual.

Three weeks ago, Japan's annual dolphin hunting season was pushed back several days from its usual September 1 start date because of Typhoon Talas, the region’s deadliest storm (70 lives lost) since 2004.

To date, “only” 14 dolphins have been killed this hunting season, reports Ceta-Base.com.

Last week was a relatively good one for Taiji dolphins, according to Sea Shepherd:

The killers stayed in the harbor on four out of seven days due to bad weather and sea conditions. They went out searching for dolphins to hunt on two days only to come back emptyhanded on both occasions, and on Sunday, they all left the harbor but turned around about a kilometer out and came back in.