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Sea Shepherd's Dolphin Defense Campaign in Taiji, Japan Donate Now

October 16, 2010

Report from Taiji: October 16 (new video)

dolphins in the killing cove
dolphins in the killing cove

After a very valiant and brave fight, 8-10 Risso dolphins were captured and slaughtered in Taiji, Japan today.

It went on for several hours, the relentless banging and boats charging back and forth.  We watched this unfold from the shore of the public part of the cove.  Over time, the hunter boats managed to push the small pod ever closer to the mouth of the cove.  The dolphins refused to enter the cove.  They must have sensed the evil there and actually from time to time dove under the hunter boats and headed back out sea.  We all cheered them on, but they turned back at one point.  I suspect that one of their members had not made it out and they would not abandon their mate.

The so-called fishermen wasted no time getting to their grisly task of bringing murder to these dolphins.  In the past, it has been their practice to leave the dolphins in the cove overnight.  Early the next morning, the trainers would come and examine them to possibly make selections for the captive trade.  These, being Risso dolphins, are not in much demand at dolphanariums because they do not look like flipper.  Two were selected earlier this week before most of that pod was slaughtered.  This time though, the trainers were not interested.

The pressure must be getting to them now.  They probably got the killing done right away to keep us from setting up cameras overnight to catch their early morning deeds.  Well, we caught them anyway.  At least the cameras of Save Japan Dolphins caught some of the slaughter and of the dead dolphins being dragged into the Taiji butcher house.  Look for Save Japan Dolphins to post their vivid shots.  No matter how much these pathetic excuses for men attempt to hide their shameful deeds, someone will film them.

I tried to get good video of the concealed and shameful slaughter by passing over the barricade to the walkway on the north side of the cove.  From there, one can have a direct line of sight into the killing cove.  This barricade has been in place for years and they recently upgraded it because I pointed out to the police that local people were crossing it all of the time and that if they could, I would.  The police have told me from the beginning that crossing that barricade would result in my arrest.  Today I put that statement to the test and discovered that it too had been a bluff.

the barricade
the barricade

As a former (retired) law enforcement officer, I began my relationship with the local police here in a professional and respectful manner.  I introduced myself to them the day I arrived and have been completely honest with them and the Coast Guard Officers with whom we have interacted these five weeks.  Unfortunately, they did not extend the same courtesy to me and lied to me.  First, I had been told that swimming in the cove when dolphins were present would result in arrest.  Last week, Steven Thompson proved that was a lie and a bluff.  I have made several attempts to speak with the senior police officials here since that occurrence so I could hear what they had to say.  I also wanted to know what the real penalty would be for crossing the barricades.  The police have refused to speak with me.  Even this afternoon when there must have been 15 of them at the cove, including the head policeman who we affectionately know as “coronary waiting to happen cop” because of his cheery disposition, and “grumpy cop” because he tends to swing between almost pleasant to downright unpleasant refused to have a private conversation with me.  I even had someone willing to translate for us.  These two men were just impossible.  They really left me no choice but to test it for myself.  So when it became clear that the killing was about to take place, I hugged my daughter and proceeded to make my away around the barricade.  Unfortunately, I did not have a very good movie camera with me (thought it smart not to risk our good camera) and so was not able to get very good footage of the events in the killing cove.  Also, the police followed me in force and shut down my filming activities before the actual killing began.  There is an interesting provision in the Japanese constitution, Article 21, that allows for the filming and publication of newsworthy events.  Well, with all of the media attention we have received here, no one could claim the killing is not newsworthy.

Nevertheless, they led me away in force and deposited me into the back of a marked unit.  I was surprised that I had not been handcuffed and in fact had not even been searched for weapons.  Any rookie cop in most places in the world would never have made that mistake, but since I had no intention of causing them any harm, it was unnecessary.  I soon found myself in the Katsuura police station.  There they searched me for weapons and had me dump the contents of my pockets into a tray.  I was then taken into an interrogation room and made to sit against the wall with a desk and a cop between the door and me.  While I may not have been officially under arrest, I was certainly under constructive arrest.

Here is where I borrowed a page from Peter Hammarstedt’s book and just stared at my feet.  I would not answer or acknowledge any question.  They brought in an interpreter.  I did tell him that I would not talk to him and that I would only talk to the US embassy.  After that, I mostly ignored them.  At one point he started telling me why I was there.  It seems those barricades are up to protect passers by from falling rock.  What a crock.  They have those barricades up because the dolphin slayers are ashamed of what they do and have gotten the local police to support them in their schemes.  I wonder if there is a branch of the Japanese government that would be interested to know that police forces are being used for such meaningless and corrupt work.

I was listening though and at one point he stated that I was not under arrest.  When I heard that, I stood up and began pocketing my possessions.  I was not stopped.  I then headed to the door, but was stopped. So, I had to assume that I was under arrest.  I returned to my head down posture and let him continue to talk to the top of my hat.  A bit later, he again stated that I was not under arrest and so I again stood up and headed for the door.  This time I was not stopped and they even offered to drive me.  They said that my car was still at the cove.  I asked about my daughter’s whereabouts.  They said that she too was still at the cove, so off we went to the cove.  I explained to the interpreter and to “nice” cop that we were not enemies and they both agreed.

I want to take a moment here to let everyone know that I made sure Elora would be looked after by caring and competent folks should I be arrested and that she knew exactly what to do.  She executed everything brilliantly and earned a great deal of respect from the adults in our group and from the Embassy staff.  I know you all know this, but she is an amazing young woman and her mother, her sister, and I are quite proud of her.

I also know that the police read or translate my posts so this is an open letter to them.  Understand that I will continue to cross that barricade in order to exercise the rights under Article 21 of the Japanese constitution.  I will do so of my own free will.  No one is instructing me to do so.  I hereby release the city of Taiji and the police from any liability should a rock happen to fall upon me.  Now if that rock is thrown, that will be a different story.  Also, I would welcome re-establishing a professional relationship with your department.  This time though, it will have to be based on trust and honesty.  You guys have already proven to me that I cannot trust what you say at face value, so you will have to work hard on this.  I do appreciate the fact that part of your job is making sure that no one gets hurt, so I would like to meet you halfway.  Just let me know.

the push and valiant fight
the push and valiant fight

Annie, a Japanese woman who is currently living in New York City, joined the Cove Guardians today.  I heard from a Japanese reporter in Tokyo who told me that our presence in Taiji is getting more and more attention throughout the nation.  He added that many Japanese are becoming supporters of the efforts to end dolphin hunting and that as long as I do not break the law, this support will continue to grow.  He was surprised that the Shingu police had carted me away for crossing the barricade and he acknowledged that it is not a criminal offense to cross it.

My adventure with the police today would be quite comical if were not for the fact that 8-10 dolphins, who were simply minding their own business, were harassed, held captive, and then brutally slaughtered today.  This capture and slaughter is insane and has no place in modern civilized society.  Yes, I am angry, and if you are not also angry, then you are not paying attention.

You can help.  Spread the word, send donations to the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian campaign, join in the Worldwide Anti-Whaling Day on November 5, avoid all travel to Japan except to become a Cove Guardian with us here in Taiji, make good consumer choices regarding whether or not to purchase Japanese products, and ensure that you do everything you can to keep the pressure on the Japanese authorities.  It is unfortunate that the reputation of an entire nation is being tarnished by the evil and shameful deeds of a handful of men in Taiji.  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

Click here to learn more about the 5 November 2010 Worldwide Anti-Whaling Day.

The Blog Log:
• My daughter, Elora Malama, has been with me here since day one and keeps a blog of her experiences.
• Future Cove Guardians Tarah , Carolyn , and Leah have started blogs about their endeavors.
• The Taiji Dolphin Action Group blog.

the push and valiant fight the push and valiant fight
the push and valiant fight


Scott West taken into custody
Taiji, Japan, October 16th