Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Fundraising
  • Green Whale
  • Kids blogs
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Scottish Dolphin Centre
  • Stop whaling
Humpback whale underwater

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Black Sea common dolphins © Elena Gladilina

The dolphin and porpoise casualties of the war in Ukraine

Rare, threatened subspecies of dolphins and porpoises live in the Black Sea along Ukraine's coast....
WDC's Ed Fox, Chris Butler-Stroud and Carla Boreham take a message from the ocean to parliament

Taking a message from the ocean to parliament

It's a sad fact that whales and dolphins don't vote in human elections, but I...
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Tokitae in captivity

Talking to TUI – will they stop supporting whale and dolphin captivity?

Last Thursday I travelled to Berlin for a long-anticipated meeting with TUI senior executives. I...

Earth Day Q&A with Waipapa Bay Wines’ marketing director, Fran Draper

We've been partnered with Waipapa Bay Wines since 2019 so for this year's Earth Day,...
Orcas at the seabed

The secrets of orca beach life

Rubbing on smooth pebbles is a generations-old cultural tradition for a particular group of orcas...

Those who are not counted

Marna Olsen and Hans Peter Roth provide another update from their monitoring activities in Taiji, Japan on behalf of WDC.


It could be seen from afar, as there were crows circling above it. A carcass of a Risso’s dolphin presently lying on the beach between the big Taiji lighthouse and our vantage point, where we normally monitor the dolphin drive hunts, close to Taiji Highschool. It was washed ashore there last Monday or Tuesday. It is already in a progressing state of decay and various animals have started feeding on it. The sight of this dead juvenile dolphin is shocking to us. Its’ death is undoubtedly linked to last Monday’s drive hunt, when about one dozen Risso’s were killed in the infamous cove of Taiji.

We can only assume what killed the poor thing. The cetaceans die of stress, exhaustion, or due to injuries, when hunting boats run over the animals and they get hit by propellers or other parts of the boats. These animals do not always sink to the seafloor, but can remain afloat due to gasses in the body and then be washed ashore. 

The dolphin hunt we witnessed last Monday, October 19th, was of particular cruelty. It lasted for about 5 hours, before the dolphins were finally trapped in the cove. It was heartbreaking to see this family pod with several calves and their despaired, completely exhausted mothers trying to protect them, until they were brutally slaughtered one by one, hidden under tarps in the killing cove. The body of the dolphin seen in the picture is one of the victims of this killing. And it will never show up in any killing statistic.

In spite of its’ state of decay, many scratch marks can be seen on the body. Though some may be a result of the carcass washing up on the sharp rocks ashore, others indicate different kinds of injuries, as if it had been entangled in nets, including around the snout. Dolphins drowning in the capture and killing process in the cove is common. Those are not used for their meat. The fishermen regularly put them on a skiff, cover them with tarp, haul them out to sea and dump them, as has been observed many times.

So it seems very plausible that this has been the case with this poor juvenile Risso’s. As she was still swimming free and unsuspecting with her pod last Sunday still, her body is now reduced to a decaying carcass, her whole family having been wiped out.