Cove Guardians - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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

December 22, 2010

Report from Taiji: December 22

A banger boat returns to harbor empty-handedA banger boat returns to harbor empty-handedThere’s a rumor floating around Taiji town that the dolphin hunters will break for the holidays starting December 23. Wouldn’t that be an amazing Christmas gift from the fisherman to the Cove Guardians? They knew exactly what we wished for. They started the gift giving by allowing Nicole to have a slaughter free birthday, they continued by coming back to harbor today with no dolphins and if they actually stop hunting tomorrow until after the New Year, us Guardians would consider it the greatest gift of all time.

Although we all know how rumors work and hopefully we’re all aware that the majority of the time they are fabrications; the Cove Guardians will continue to get up early every morning in order to drive through the harbor and count banger boats. Every single morning we will do this, even if the fisherman stay tucked in their warm beds until January 5, when they are apparently supposed to resume the hunt.

Being a Cove Guardian is exhausting work. The emotional drain takes more of a toll than any physical work I’ve ever experienced. We wake up early every single day with no hope of a day to sleep in. We stand for hours, scanning the horizon with binoculars, waiting for the banger boats to appear. On the no-kill days, we try to do some sightseeing but usually end up in the hotel lobby on our computers. And of course, on kill days, we witness tragedy. And then we end up in the hotel lobby on our computers.

Cove Guardian Nicole practices her Japanese writingCove Guardian Nicole practices her Japanese writingBut this is also the most rewarding work I’ve ever done and being here is an incredible feeling. I am willing to sacrifice sleep and suffer some emotional trauma if it will help save just one single dolphin. This is my passion and I feel blessed to be living this life.

If this holiday closure is truly going to happen, which let’s hope for the dolphins sake that it does, then it will give the Guardians the much needed downtime to do the research that needs to be done. There are so many questions that are still unanswered and so many facts that need to be dug up. For example, how exactly is the money from the captive trade distributed? Where does Mitsubishi fit in financially? Do the fishermen realize that their puppet strings are being pulled by the Taiji Mayor? It will be interesting to see what kind of data we can unearth.

I realize that some people might have a negative opinion about Japan in general. People hear that the Japanese are killing dolphins and of course are outraged, as well they should be. But I hope that this backwoods town and its brute dolphin killing men don’t spoil the view of the entire country. Japan is my home for the next three months and I am continually impressed with the friendliness of the people, the cleanliness of the towns, the majestic beauty of the landscape and let’s not forget the absolutely amazing food (which I’ve been enjoying a little too much). I come from a nation that is disliked by many other countries and there are numerous actions done by its leaders that I do not agree with. There are numerous actions done by groups of people that I do not agree with. But I would hope that I personally would not be judged because of those things. Instead of judging the Japanese, let’s educate them on what’s happening in Taiji. The majority of the general public is not even aware that this is happening and it’s wrong to judge them based on something they know nothing of.

Here is your opportunity to become a Cove Guardian.  To join us in Taiji (voluntarily, and completely at your own cost and risk), write to us at coveguardian@seashepherd.org.  We will get back to you, but please be patient.  We cannot keep an eye on the Cove and answer e-mails at the same time.  Contributions to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to keep our official presence here are needed and welcome.  These contributions cover the costs for transport, telephone, equipment, supplies, food, and lodging for the official Sea Shepherd representative.  We will remain here through the end of March and will return for the next season in September 2011.

Thank you to the citizens of Japan who are weighing these issues and beginning to take a stand to solve them.  Thank you to everyone who is on the frontlines of this war.  This is a war to save ourselves from ourselves.  Without your calling and writing Japanese embassies and your own governments, there will be no change.  Keep it up! Every time dolphins are pushed into the Cove, let them have it.  Every time there is blood in the water, let them have it.  Make good consumer choices.  Inform everyone you know about the tragedy here and how it is linked to the captive dolphin trade.  All who patronize a dolphin show have blood on their hands.

For the dolphins,

Libby Katsinis

A cameraman takes a ride on a banger boatA cameraman takes a ride on a banger boat The Mitsubishi logo on the side of a banger boatThe Mitsubishi logo on the side of a
banger boat

Nicole, who will be assisting me during the next three months, will share her experiences while in Taiji on her blog.
Rupert Imhoff
, who is also assisting with this campaign, has started a YouTube channel of video taken during his time in Taiji.