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September 15, 2010

Report from Taiji: September 15

Beautiful harborToday was another glorious day in Taiji.  The dolphin hunters went out this morning upon a beautiful ocean and came back empty handed.  I do not know why they were not successful.  Perhaps they could not find any dolphins, perhaps they could not find ones suitable for the live trade, perhaps the weather is turning, perhaps there are no more dolphin in the sea.

The village of Taiji has “missed the boat.”  We went up on a promontory this morning to look for the hunter boats out in the ocean.  We were unable to see them, but what we did see was dramatic.  The raw beauty of this coastline is beyond my ability to describe.  We found a park trail along the Report from Taijiridge.  There are viewing places along the way with information placards showing drawings of various cetaceans and providing information about them in Japanese.  Obviously, folks come up to this path to watch these magnificent creatures as they move through the nearby waters.  There is also a coastal whaling boat in the harbor, complete with harpoon gun, to kill the gentle giants whose only mistake is to come close to this shore.

The name Taiji has become synonymous with horror and barbarism.  It could be a desirable destination.  I would come to this place and bring my children to see the beauty, to swim, to dive, to eat and shop in the town of Katsuura.  There are natural hot springs in the area too and many Japanese come here to take in the waters.  There is no reason, except one, why this remote area on the Wakayama coast could not be a very popular destination for world travelers.  Once the dolphin capture and slaughter ends, the people of Taiji could capitalize on the nature and beauty they have here instead of allowing a handful of fishermen to destroy it.

Essentially the world knew nothing about the barbarism in Taiji until 2003, when Sea Shepherd exposed the dirty secret and took action to free captured dolphins.  Since that time, Ric O’Barry and OPS have done amazing work to expose the activities here.   The dolphin hunters continue to attempt to hide their secret; evidence that they are ashamed of their action is everywhere.  They have blocked off public walkways and even Tsunami escape routes in a national park to keep people from seeing into the killing cove.  Inside the killing cove, they have installed covers and tarps to prevent viewing of their shameful acts.

And now the participants in the practice of selecting wild dolphins for the aquariums are equally ashamed—as they should be.  They once conducted their activities in the public area of the cove, but now they too do their business hidden in the killing part of the cove.

Taiji is not the only town in Japan with a dirty secret. The town of Futo in Shizuok Prefecture had a long history of dolphin capture and slaughter, but they turned away from that insanity in 2004.  For the past five years, Futo has been a place where visitors could enjoy the underwater splendor and watch dolphins swimming freely in the wild.

This respite appears to be over now.  It was reported in the August 27 edition of the Izu Shimbun newspaper that the town of Futo in Ito City is to resume its dolphin hunt.  A quota of 419 dolphins was set by a self-appointed group of petty bureaucrats because, as they say, “…we want to carry out the hunt in order to pass our skills on to the next generation.”

For more information on what may be happening in Futo, see:

We just might have to visit Futo before we leave Japan.

If you would like to join us (voluntarily, and completely at your own cost and risk) in Taiji, write to me at  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,

Scott West
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society 

To follow my daughter’s blog of these events, visit:


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