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Captured Dolphin in Distress at Dolphin Base – Taiji, Japan

By: Laurice Dee, Ph.D.

31 December 2010

Taiji, a small seaside town in Japan, is known for its annual dolphin drive hunts.  So many lives of varying dolphin species have been taken through the most brutal slaughters.  While their pod-mates are killed, a number of dolphins have been captured for the captivity industry.  The lives of these captured dolphins are forever altered.  They no longer live in freedom in the open sea, nor do they get to do the things that they would normally do through the use of their echolocation.  Their wild spirits have been broken through training for their dead-fish rewards.  In other words, the trainers in Taiji make the dolphins perform tricks in their temporary sea pens at Dolphin Base so that they could be fed dead, medicated fish.  This is definitely a far cry from what wild dolphins do in the ocean – hunting for live fish for their own sustenance.

Speaking of ‘far cry’, one bottle-nose dolphin had been removed from one of the sea pens where he had been occupied by the other captured dolphins to one of the above-ground pools.  People that serve as eyewitnesses to the slaughters reported through Facebook that this particular dolphin has been left all alone without anyone present at the pool.  Through the videos, he has been shown to be quite listless, and he has not been moving around that much.  He has been holding a yellow buoy the entire time and would move to and fro in front of the video camera.  He has moored himself close to the wall within the same section of the pool without changing positions throughout the entire pool.

The water quality in that pool is extremely poor – quite algae-laden and so full of excreta from the dolphin himself.  From one of the eyewitnesses, the pool appears to be unfiltered.  Since there are so many dead fish lying on the bottom of the pool, it appears that the dolphin has not been eating when being fed by those at Dolphin Base.

One of the eyewitnesses that has taken videos of the isolated dolphin tried to interview some people at Dolphin Base to find out more about the dolphin and why he had been separated from the others.  The interviewer ended up getting ignored by everyone.  I understand that his questions had been answered at a later time.  While his questions were answered, he learned that the dolphin’s name was Misty.  The reason why this dolphin had been removed from his sea pen was because he had been ill, and the trainers did not want the other dolphins to be affected by Misty’s illness.  He was also told that Misty was undergoing rehabilitation and that’s the reason for the isolation.

Out of my deep concern for Misty, I could not help but sensed something quite fishy about the answers.  Since my mind was filled with questions, I decided to write to Dolphin Base.  I sent two e-mails but never heard back from anyone.  I knew Misty truly needs a lot more help and attention than what he’s been getting now.  To help you to get a good feel for what I had written, I will post the contents from my two e-mails here.

From my first e-mail on 30 December 2010:

I am writing to express my extreme concern about one of the dolphins that reside at your resort.  This particular dolphin is all alone in a very small unfiltered, above-ground pool without its pod-mates.

This issue has been brought to the attention of so many of us through a video that’s shown through the Internet.  I am so downright appalled at the condition of this particular dolphin!  I could tell right away from its behavior that the dolphin is under extreme stress and that it has been pleading for help.  No one seems to attend to the needs of the dolphin.  The water looks extremely filthy, and the pool is littered with so many dead fish, as well as excrement from the dolphin itself.  The dolphin looks extremely listless with some yellow ball in its mouth and was swinging to and fro while facing the person that took the video.  The dolphin even looked up at the person, even with the ball in its mouth!

I would very much like to ask why this dolphin has been left in that pool all by itself and why the water has not been cleaned and filtered.  I would also like to ask why no one listened to the person (that took the video) who had been trying to find out about the dolphin.  The dolphin has been holding a yellow ball in its mouth.  Did somebody put it in there?  Why didn’t anybody pick up the dead fish from the bottom of the pool?  How come the dolphin is not with the others that are in the sea pens?

I am sure you guys are aware that wild dolphins are extremely intelligent, highly sociable, and quite sentient.  They are capable of experiencing emotions and are so very self aware.  Because of their complete awareness, they know what’s going on around them and the stresses that are being imposed on them.  They are extremely sensitive to extreme noises, sudden changes to their environment, and excessive touching and manhandling from humans.

I would very much like to point out that removing wild dolphins from their oceanic home is so downright unacceptable! Capturing them and displaying them in tiny pens and pool will no longer be tolerated!  The lone dolphin experiencing excessive stress from being in that tiny pool all by itself is a telltale sign of the capture not being quite right!

I am sorry to say this but you are not going to gain anything from keeping wild dolphins in tiny pens and pools. They are NOT meant to live in captivity; they are MEANT to live in the open seas!  Wild dolphins captured for display do not live as long as the ones that remain in the open seas.  I can see from the high turnover of captured dolphins that the dolphins at your resort have succumbed to their untimely deaths.  Their listlessness and lethargic state are perfect indicators of their lives nearing the end.  This is exactly what we have observed of the dolphin in the tiny pool.  This one will not live that long.

How about establishing a new whale- and dolphin-watching business instead of keeping captured dolphins in tiny pens and pools? Your resort is going to reap huge dividends from running this kind of business instead of keeping captured dolphins that have already shown a great deal of suffering.  Guests that stay at your resort will get to enjoy watching wild cetaceans – whales, dolphins, and porpoises – going about their lives in their oceanic home.  Guests will also get to enjoy observing wild cetaceans at work and play!  I guarantee you that the wild cetaceans will show the guests how much they love being at home by doing so many different things – hunting, eating, playing, mating, communicating, and swimming – which are quite essential to their lives.

After all, home is where all wild cetaceans belong!

From my second e-mail on 31 December 2010:

I sent you an e-mail yesterday about one of the dolphins that resides at your resort.  Since I have not heard back from you, I am enclosing a copy just in case you did not receive it.  Please scroll down to see my previous e-mail.

The dolphin that I am speaking of has been isolated in a small pool without the company of other dolphins.  I understand that her name is Misty.

I had the opportunity to watch another video of Misty.  I must let you know how extremely disturbed I am to note the state she is in.  She continues to be extremely listless with the yellow ball still in her mouth.  She has not been moving much at all.

I understand from some reports that Misty is being rehabilitated since she’s been ill and that she needs to be isolated from the others by remaining in the small pool.

I am still gravely concerned about Misty’s current condition and the state she is in. A number of questions have been floating through my mind, and I would like to write them down here.

How come the water in the pool is still so filthy?  How come Misty continues to hold on to the yellow ball?  How come the dead fish had not been removed from the bottom of the pool?  If Misty is being rehabilitated, how come no one attends to Misty and stays with her at all times?  How come Misty has not received any simulation whatsoever, such as enrichment toys or someone in the pool to lead her around?

When a sick dolphin is being rehabilitated, it is given all the care and attention possible in a very clean, sanitized rehabilitation pool.  There is always someone there with the dolphin (in the water if the dolphin is not able to swim well on its own) or outside of the water (right by the pool where the dolphin is being observed at all times).  I do not see anything like this with Misty.  It is very obvious that she is under extreme physical and psychological stress (from the capture, as well as being abandoned) and that her behavior exhibits just that.  It is also very obvious that Misty may not be eating at all since there are so many dead fish lying on the bottom of the pool.

If Misty is being rehabilitated, how come she has not received the proper kind of help that she truly needs?

If you are going to take care of Misty during her rehabilitation stint, she is going to have to receive a lot more help than she’s been getting this time. If you really want Misty to heal, she should be examined by a veterinarian and be provided proper medical and nutritional treatments.

My hope is that you will take my message, as well as that of others, into extremely serious consideration and provide the utmost care and attention to Misty, as well as to the other captured dolphins who are not currently undergoing rehabilitation.

(Since my last e-mail to Dolphin Base, I learned that Misty is a he and that the yellow ball that he has been holding in his mouth is actually a yellow buoy.)

Why I still have not heard back from Dolphin Base, I really don’t know.  But my hope is that this will reach people that would care enough to take action on behalf of Misty just like many of us do.  I would also hope that this will reach someone involved with Dolphin Base and that he/she will ensure Misty’s well-being by transferring him out of the pool into one of the sea pens and having the appropriate people attend to Misty’s needs during his rehabilitation.  I, myself, will continue to follow up on Misty’s condition through updates, as well as my communications with people through Facebook.  I will also work on firing off letters on Misty’s behalf.

Wild dolphins are extremely intelligent, highly sociable, and quite sentient.  They are very self-aware and are also aware of what’s going on around them.  They are capable of experiencing emotions, as well as pain and suffering.  Because of these unique characteristics, Misty should NOT be left alone in that filthy pool and should be in the same area with his own kind instead!

Laurice Dee, Ph.D.

Mesa, AZ  USA



Regarding Dolphin Base:

“Dolphin Base” in Taiji advertises Touch – a – Dolphin programs and, at the same time, fuels the slaughter of dolphins in Japan: Dolphin Base is the company that brokers dolphins from the dolphin drives to dolphinariums in Japan and abroad.



Hi everyone,

It has been ages since my last blog entry, and I feel it’s about time for me to post a new one!

I mentioned this past September that I had been thinking about going to Taiji this season to document the dolphin drive hunts.  So much have happened since then.  On my way to check out the site in Phoenix for the Dolphin Day protest last October, the engine in my vehicle broke down completely.  I was told that it needed to be replaced.  I ended up spending almost 8000 dollars for the new engine, starter, coolant container, and the upholstery of the driver’s seat.  I keep thinking that some or all of the money could have been used for the trip to Japan.

Even if I had *that* money, I still have not been able to overcome the deep reservations about being at the Cove.  When I first learned about the Cove Guardian campaign set up by the SSCS, I figured that my presence, as well as that of others, would keep the dolphin killers from going out to the open sea to get the dolphins and slaughter them.  I could not have been more wrong!

Since slaughters of wild cetaceans remain legal in Japan, it is quite impossible for any one of us to do anything to help save the lives of the dolphins without breaking the law.  Besides, I would find it quite impossible to stand there and watch the dolphin murderers tear up dolphin families and kill so many members while capturing others for the sake of entertainment.  According to the SSCS, each Cove Guardian needs to practice complete restraint and not show too much emotion at the Cove.  Since I have never watched the movie The Cove and watched only a few videos through the SSCS site, I cannot imagine myself not feeling or experiencing anything during the slaughters.  Reading the details from the reports and blogs is enough to upset and anger me!

I have been responding to the slaughters by writing letters to the Japanese embassies/consulates and the fishery office in Japan.  All of my letters are posted on my Facebook for all to read.  Since the embassies, consulates, and fishery office receive a barrage of phone calls, e-mails, faxes, and letters from all over the world, how can anybody possibly read all of my letters?  Because of my profound deafness, writing does not come very easily for me.  Writing letters regarding the slaughters and captures requires a great deal of thought and is quite time-consuming.  I have already done a great deal on Facebook by sharing news and posting comments, messages, and letters.  Yet, I feel so overlooked by the majority of my Facebook friends.  I feel that I have tried hard to communicate with so many people, and I cannot help but it bothers me a great deal that I have done so much but not getting much for all my efforts.  I must admit that my writing letters to the Japanese officials is like banging my body against unlocked doors that won’t budge.  I feel as if I am going in circles as well.

The intense pressure from all over the world is being felt by the dolphin murderers.  This causes them to come up with new ways of killing the dolphins while changing their tactics so that the slaughters could continue.  I very strongly believe that the killers are taking their belligerence out on the most innocent, defenseless dolphins because the pressure has been too great for them.

I was very deeply saddened to hear about the twenty or so bottle-nose dolphins – including the mom-calf pairs – being slaughtered yesterday.  It seems that whenever a pod is being driven into the Cove, the ‘slower swimmers’, including the mothers and their little ones, are not so lucky while the ‘fast swimmers’ are able to break away and swim away as fast as possible.  I have noticed this pattern, since the ones driven into the Cove to be killed include the young ones and the adults that look after them.

While I am still committed to helping stop the atrocities, I feel that my doing the same thing that so many others have done is not really making much difference.  Like I said, I still feel quite unnoticed and unappreciated for all I have done.  There’s got to be other avenues to help stop the atrocities.  I will have to step back and think about what I could do differently to help.  I feel so incredibly frustrated both ways – writing bunch of letters that are not being read by anybody and having deep reservations about being at the Cove.

I am very deeply concerned about Japan continuing to pilfer the oceans so relentlessly and recklessly, as well as its most antiqued mindset about taking the lives of so many living beings – the whales, the dolphins, the porpoises, huge schools of tuna, and a large assortment of fish.  Not only that, but Japan would hire fishermen to grab huge schools of tuna from overseas and bribe developing countries by buying their votes at the IWC meetings.  To sum it up, Japan seems to be the only country that has to have its way with everything!

I do not know what to do at this point.  It seems that people at the Cove have been getting all the attention, but what about the rest of us from here that are doing as much as they have?  Do I have to be at the Cove to make a real difference?

I am just very concerned about the pressure getting to the murderers that would make them want to do more and more to harm wild cetaceans, not the other way around.  How come the porpoise slaughters have not been getting the attention that the dolphin and whale slaughters have?  As far as dolphins are concerned, the dolphin drive hunts are very closely linked with the captivity industry.  But large whales do not get caught for the public display facilities.  I just don’t get it since I am looking at the big picture – that is, Japan being so greedy about the oceans and its most precious inhabitants!

I know this is rather lengthy, but I truly need to get it off my chest as to what’s been bothering me for quite sometime.  I really appreciate your taking the time to read this, as well as your understanding and sensitivity.


Hi everyone,

It is with very deep sadness that I share the news about the most recent slaughter in Taiji.  The most precious lives of about 14 Risso’s dolphins had been taken away by the most sadistic fishermen.  Because of the outcry from people at the Cove about the mothers with their little ones, the fishermen decided to let loose 6 young ones so that they could fend for themselves.  These fishermen are so downright heartless that they do not even appreciate the outcome of the little ones living by themselves without their beloved mothers to watch over them and other adults to teach them the way of life in the open sea!

I am going through a lot of emotions right now – from deep sadness and great pain to extreme anger and great stress! I’ve been keeping up with absolutely everything that’s going on in Taiji through Scott West’s reports and his daughter’s blog entries.  The links are as follows:

I am so thankful that so many of us are doing our part to help abolish the dolphin slaughter altogether, regardless of our being here or in Taiji.  Each one of us can make a huge difference through our own efforts!  As many of you are aware, the upcoming international protest on behalf of the dolphins will be this Thursday, the 14th of October.  The link is as follows:

I am pleased to let all of you know that I will participate in the protest that will be held in downtown Phoenix.  We will demonstrate our devotion to our beloved brothers and sisters of the sea – the whales, dolphins, and porpoises – through our written messages.  The four large poster signs that I created are now complete and have already been laminated so that they can be used again in future protests and educational endeavours.  If somebody throws an egg to one of my signs, all I will have to do is wipe it off with a wet towelette!

Since some of you would want to know what my signs are like, I will list the following in detail:

Sign #1:

REASONS we NEED to save the Dolphins:

1. They are extremely intelligent!

2. They are highly sociable!

3. They are quite sentient!

4. They are self-aware!

5. They are mammals like us!!

6. They are slow to reproduce!

7. They are considered “non-human persons”!

Sign #2:

We deeply oppose the following:

1. Dolphin Drive Hunts!

2. Coastal and Deep Sea Whaling!

3. Illegal Slaughters!

4. All kinds of human threats that pose harm to wild cetaceans and their oceanic environments!

Sign #3:

You will help the wild cetaceans by doing the following:

1. Boycott $ea World and other captive facilities!

2. Spread the word about the plights of wild cetaceans!

3. Sign petitions and write to the government officials!

4. Participate in campaigns and protests!

5. Donate time and funds to organizations that work with wild cetaceans!!

Sign #4:

Our Brothers and Sisters of the Sea:

* Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises

* Please do leave them alone!

* Please let them live in peace in their oceanic environments!!

* They deserve to live like all of us do!!

* If we love them, we should do everything possible to save them!!

Even though some of the words in my signs have been underlined, this does not have an underline where I can show the words that have already been underlined.  I wrote out the above words on swaths of white paper and posted them on black poster boards using double-stick tape.  I am hoping that I will have someone photograph my signs so that I can upload them here for all of you to see.

Before I post this, I would very much like to encourage many of you to get involved in the on-going fight against whaling, dolphin drive hunts, illegal slaughters, and various human threats by participating in activities, including the international protest, that would benefit the wild cetaceans in the long run.  Our beloved brothers and sisters of the sea truly need our help, and we can all be the ‘voice’ for these beautiful creatures!

Continuing to stand up for all wild cetaceans,


Hi everyone,

I mentioned in my previous entry that I had been thinking about going to Taiji to document the annual dolphin drive hunt.  Right now, I have mixed feelings about the trip.  I would like to put the trip issue aside so that I can discuss about other important issues.

Since my write-up had been posted in, a cetacean news site, the dolphin drive hunt has already begun in Taiji, Japan.  A number of bottle-nose dolphins had already been captured for the captivity industry, and about 15 pilot whales and Risso’s dolphins were slaughtered.  Since the weather had been so horrible during the last 11 days, there were no dolphins in the Cove.  These days were just perfect for the dolphins since they were still safe at sea.  As of this writing, I do not know how the day turned out in Taiji on the 6th of October.  But I do encourage you guys to check the following link for the updates:

Now, I would like to discuss about the inhumane treatment of the four bottle-nose dolphins that had been exported to Egypt from the dolphin drive hunt in Taiji.  Since their arrival in Hurghada this past August, they’ve been kept in a very small pool in a villa that is not properly filtered.  The precious dolphins are practically swimming in their excrement and have already suffered needlessly from infections and other problems.  The ‘owner’ of the dolphins had been given an ultimatum by the Governor Of The Red Sea to move the creatures to a much better place.  This has to be done in 48 hours. As of this writing, there has been no update on the dolphins since the 2nd of October.  But the following link has all the previous updates on the four dolphins:

Ric O’Barry and the two HEPCA teams tried to secure a ‘natural’ home environment for the dolphins and wanted to check on the condition of the dolphins in the villa, but they had been forced away by the hired thugs.  The ‘owner’ refused to have the dolphins moved into a lagoon that had been approved by Ric and the HEPCA teams.  Instead, he is having a bigger pool built for the dolphins that would meet the national and international standards for captivity.  Even though it would be nice for the dolphins to be moved into the lagoon, getting them out of that tiny pool in the villa and into a much larger, cleaner pool is the most important step.  The following blog – dated on Monday, the 4th of October 2010 – explains what Ric and the teams have done on behalf of the dolphins:

In the meantime, I would very much appreciate your signing the following petition to stop dolphin captivity in Egypt:

My hope is that you will keep checking the above links to find out what’s been happening in Taiji, as well as in Hurghada.

OK!  Now, I would like to discuss about Tilikum, the killer whale (orca) who has been living at Sea World in Orlando, Florida.  I just read one eyewitness account of him that truly disturbed me.  Tilikum has been living in complete isolation, and his rather unnatural behavior truly reflects just that.  Colleen, the individual that wrote about Tilikum, had the opportunity to observe him during the two days that she was at Sea World.  And I would like to share with you guys what she had to say about Tilikum.  Her blog entry is as follows:

It truly tears me up – and also breaks my heart – to know that a number of dolphins had already been captured in Taiji for the captivity industry and that the four bottle-nose dolphins and Tilikum – also a wild-caught cetacean – have been treated so very poorly!  These are some examples of what mankind would do to the most precious, defenseless wild cetaceans to make their lives so downright miserable!  I cannot tell you how much I hurt for them, as well as for those killed in the drive hunt!  The best I can do on behalf of all wild cetaceans and other sea life is to spread the word every time I find out what’s been happening to them and their oceanic habitats.  My hope is that you will take the time to read and appreciate the various plights faced by all sea creatures and be able to spread the word to your families and friends.

Speaking of spreading the word, I would very much hope that many of you will participate in the world protest on behalf of wild cetaceans.  The following link shows a long list of places where the protest will be held:

I will plan to be at the protest here in my area.  In the meantime, I will be working on creating huge informational signs to bring awareness on the slaughter and capture of wild cetaceans.  If you are planning to be at the protest somewhere, I would very much appreciate your letting me know.  All wild cetaceans definitely need our help and voices!

Dedicating to all wild cetaceans and other sea life,

Hi, my name is Laurice.  I am an oral deaf professional with a doctorate.  I must admit that life has not been the same since my graduate school days due to the varied experiences that I’ve gained throughout the years.

Since my fields of study were not quite marketable as far as employment was concerned, I developed a number of personal interests.  One of them was in space exploration.  I was really intrigued with various robotic missions that explored parts of our solar system and spent many hours of my time in public outreach.  Since NASA was eager about the possibility of sending humans to our Moon and to Mars and had established some new exploratory missions to prepare for future human spaceflights, I found myself becoming disinterested in space exploration.  I questioned why gazillions of dollars would be spend on preparing and sending humans out to space while our own planet is in trouble.  Yes, there is so much strife here on Earth!  It is quite obvious through the environment, as well as through wildlife.

While signing online petitions concerning wildlife and the environment, I came across a petition that truly had a profound effect on me.  A couple of graphic photos of dolphins being killed in a ‘bloodbath’ off the coast of Japan truly got to me.  I decided right there that I would speak up on their behalf!  After firing a series of e-mails and letters to the United States and Japanese governments, I caught up with a bit of research so that I could learn more about the dolphins and other small cetaceans (porpoises and small whales), as well as large cetaceans (large whales).  I stumbled across, a comprehensive cetacean news site, while learning about Castaway, an offshore Atlantic bottle-nose dolphin that was rescued in November of 2006.  While becoming involved with as a volunteer news contributor, I developed a much greater awareness of the plight of wild cetaceans and their oceanic habitats through the forums.  I learned that their greatest threat lies with humans and their destructive activities.  I realized that this is one example of our planet Earth needing our attention.  From there on, I have been advocating on behalf of all wild cetaceans, other marine wildlife, and their watery environments through my spoken and written words.  Besides my involvement with, I’ve participated in other forums and websites that devote to the conservation of our oceans and marine wildlife.

As far as cetacean slaughters are concerned, I’ve been speaking against such atrocity for the last five years.  I would very much like to do more than just signing petitions, sending messages via e-mails, posting my write-ups in various sites, and increasing awareness through word of mouth.  Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd has been calling for volunteers to make the journey to Taiji – where the movie The Cove was filmed – to keep a watch over the small cetaceans – the dolphins – at the Cove.  Since this is something that I had always wanted to do, I’ve been weighing the possibility of going to Japan sometime this fall.

Even though I had traveled overseas in the past, especially to the Philippines, the trip to Japan, especially to Taiji, is going to be a totally different experience for me.  Especially being at the Cove where danger lies with the Taiji fishermen that perform downright cruel acts that cause the loss of lives of the most precious dolphins.  All kinds of emotions have been coming to me – from being so nervous to wanting to dedicate my time and efforts on behalf of special creatures that truly have the right to live in their own oceanic environment while swimming off the coast of Japan.

I could really use your encouragement and support during this time and would really appreciate your insights and suggestions as well.  Many thanks to all of you!