September 14, 2010
The Cove in Taiji, Japan: September 14
by Scott West
Today was a good day in Taiji. The dolphin hunters took their boats out upon the ocean, but returned empty handed. Either they did not find any dolphins or did not find the correct type for the live dolphin trade. The live dolphin trade is very lucrative for these men and they are taking advantage of the current run of good weather to set out in search of migrating dolphins.
The Cove is just outside of the small fishing village of Taiji. This evening we drove through Taiji. It sits on a three-sided harbor. On the far side, away from the roads and parking lot, are the numerous pens where the captured dolphins are caged. The police were watching them, as were lookouts for the fishermen. These folks are very concerned about the possibility of someone setting the dolphins free. At $100,000 or so apiece, the loss of these dolphins would be a huge financial hit for the fishermen.
We understand that dolphin aquariums around the world are feeling the political and economic heat of being associated with the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, so a deal has been struck with the “fishermen” of Taiji. They have agreed to not kill dolphins in September and the live traders will select many dolphins during the month. After September, or so we are told, the live dolphin traders will disappear and the hunters will kill all of the dolphins they drive into the cove.
Of course it is smoke and mirrors. No thinking person will accept that the live dolphin trade is not associated with cruelty, barbarism, and death. What will come in October? Will the waters of the Cove turn blood red in November and December? We may not be able to stop the slaughter, but we will show the world the truth about the horror here. Perhaps Japanese public opinion will stop the slaughter.
And what of the dolphins slaughtered? They will be eaten. It is amazing that some individuals from within a culture so aware of and focused on cleanliness and health would eat dolphin, whale, tuna, and other Mercury and PCB contaminated ‘food.’ It defies logic. I spoke with three young Japanese visitors to the Cove this evening. They said that they have heard about Mercury contamination, but were suspicious regarding the truth of the reports. Apparently, the fishing “lobby” is strong in Japan and has been able to influence the thinking of otherwise intelligent and broad-minded people.
The natural beauty of this place is staggering. The ugly feel of the place is staggering as well. In time though, the feeling could be transformed. The Cove, both the public and public and the killing sections of it, could be desirable dive destinations. The boats now used to drive the dolphin could become whale and dolphin watching boats, and dive boats. The dolphin hunters could become dolphin protectors and earn a living through marine tourism that they and their children could be proud.
Tomorrow is another day. The dolphin hunters may return to the sea. Sea Shepherd will definitely be at the Cove. If you would like to join us (voluntarily, and completely at your own cost and risk) in Taiji, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will get back to you, but please be patient. I cannot keep an eye on the Cove and answer email at the same time.
For the Oceans,
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
To follow my daughter’s blog of these events at eloramalama.wordpress.com