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September 21, 2010

Report from Taiji: September 21

Approximately 15 pilot whales were killed in the cove this morning in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan.

tarps being placed over the just slaughtered whales
Tarps being placed over the
just slaughtered whales

At first light, a boat took the dolphin trainers from the public beach over to where the whales were being held in the killing cove.  They were not gone long before they returned and left the area in their cars.  Apparently, none of the whales were suitable for the live trade.  Perhaps they were too beat up from having been held in the shallow killing cove. The story that the live dolphin/whale trade associations and aquariums around the world tell that they are not involved in the killing was proven a lie this morning.

Shortly after the trainers left, the “fishermen” moved in.  Their callous efficiency denies their claims that there is reverence among them for the dolphin and whale.  It was soon over and the nets came down.  Then small boats exited the cove with their dead cargo carefully hidden from view under tarps.  The boats went out of sight around the corner and soon the police and others left the area. We lingered and then discovered that from a different vantage point we could see a barge just outside the cove that was wrapped in tarps.  This is where the whales had been taken.  The dead whales were pulled off the barge by a dolphin hunter boat using ropes tied around their tails.  Three times the hunter boat pulled about 5 whales off the barge and transported them around to the butcher house in Taiji Harbor.

At the butcher house, the large doors were open and activity on the seafood side was occurring in plain sight for all to see.  No shame there.  This was not the case though on the side where the whales were being taken.  The doors on this side were tightly closed and a huge orange tarp was hung to hide the activities there from public view.  When the hunter boat brought its last cargo of dead whales to the butcher house, Sea Shepherd was there to record the delivery.  Even here, the “fishermen” attempted to hide their victims’ bodies from our view.  They covered them with a tarp as they were dragged out of the water and up concrete steps into the house under a nearly closed roll up door.  The door quickly came down.

whales dragged into the butcher house
whales dragged into the butcher house
 

Why are these men taking such drastic precautions to hide their activities from us and therefore from the world?  If they are proud of their profession and their so-called “culture” then why hide their acts?  No, it is shameful what they do and they know it.  They are visibly angry with us for exposing their lie.

I became angry too after witnessing this morning’s events.  I was angry at my own inability to stop this.  I spent my professional life as a federal agent (criminal law enforcement in the United States) and I had always been able to intervene to stop criminal behavior.  The only solace I have is that by daring to be here and daring to expose the shameful lie, perhaps the world will remember what happens here and bring pressure to end it.  Just a handful of men in Taiji participate in this activity and yet the whole town is stained by their crimes.  Taiji is a very small coastal town in rural Japan and yet the entire nation of Japan is stained by the crimes these men commit.

I left angry at this nation and its people.  How dare they ignore these crimes?  For a short while, I hated all Japanese.

An hour or so after the events at the cove, I was walking through the nearby town of Katsuura and I saw the young woman from the bakery.  She smiled at recognizing me and offered me a happy and cheerful greeting.  I tried to hang onto it, but my hatred melted.  It is not the Japanese I hate.  I hate the actions of a handful of men and the willful blindness of the population.  I encourage the Japanese people to open their eyes in order that they may see how most of the world views the actions of these few men in Taiji.  It is up to the world to let the Japanese know how they are viewed because of these few men in Taiji.

There is an international day of protest on October 14, 2010, where you will have an opportunity to let the Japanese government know how you feel.

Sea Shepherd organized the first couple of these protests.

We need your help.  Spread the word, send donations, join in the protest, and if you can, come join us here in Taiji.  To join us (voluntarily, and completely at your own cost and risk) in Taiji, write to me at inform-us@seashepherd.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,

Scott West
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Follow my daughter’s blog of these events.

For regular updates on this important issue, please check our Taiji update page.

Tarah Millen will be joining us here in November.  She has started a blog about her endeavor.

open seafood area on left - closed dolphin/whale butcher house on right
open seafood area on left - closed
dolphin/whale butcher house on right
Sea Shepherd's Scott West at the cove
Sea Shepherd's Scott West at the cove
whales dragged into the butcher house
whales dragged into the butcher house
door closed on the dead whales
door closed on the dead whales
open seafood area - dolphin/whale butcher house behind orange curtain
open seafood area - dolphin/whale butcher house
behind orange curtain
Dead whales pulled from the barge
Dead whales pulled from the barge

 

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