January 25, 2011
Report from Taiji: January 25
On days when the tension runs high, everyone’s feelings and emotions clash on the beach at the Cove. Today was such a day, and I’m thankful that it’s now over.
The banger boats discovered a pod very early today and were driving them into the Cove by 8 a.m. We briefly watched from the Mountain Pass, but as they neared the mouth of the Cove, we headed down and like usual, were greeted by the locals and officials from the town of Taiji who are present during every slaughter. After all, it is a small village and the only excitement is offered via Sea Shepherd watching at Kujira Beach. Kujira Beach is the local name for the Cove, meaning whale beach.
Ten bottlenose dolphins were driven into the killing cove today, and ten bottlenose dolphins were slaughtered. A small family of dolphins just like the famed Flipper ceased to exist at the hands of several cruel human beings.
It is amazing to me that the smallest of actions can panic the police in this docile little town. We have been informed by a coast guard official that swimming in the Cove is not illegal, and why would it be, it is a public beach in a national park. The only illegal action would be to cross the netting and physically interfere while the dolphins are being driven into the Cove. Interfering with commerce is a serious offense in Japan and we have no intention of acting illegally and pushing those boundaries. However, seeing as how swimming off the public beach is not a crime, Cove Guardian Bob Timmons decided to take a dip on a rather sunny day.
As Bob waded waist deep into the water, he was immediately yelled at by one of the head honchos at the Fisherman’s Union, who then proceeded to call the police. The Cove was almost instantly swarming with Taiji officials. As I photographed and documented, Bob held his ground and spent 30 minutes in the water while the dolphin killers were driving the pod into the killing cove. My hat goes off to him for his bravery, as the water in the Cove is freezing cold.
As Bob emerged from the water, the police flocked and told him not to do it again. When I asked if what he had done was illegal, all they could tell me was that “it will be.” Which means that for now, it’s not. This town is so intent on keeping their dirty little secret and it is apparent that they are frustrated with us being here, so much so that one of the police officers verbally attacked our Japanese friend and brought her to tears. In what world is it ok for a grown man, and an official one at that, to make a young girl cry? The desperation to hide this shameful act from the world has blinded this man to the point of disregarding the chivalry that should be engrained in him. This tells me that those involved with the killings are aware that what they are doing here is wrong, and they are willing to go against their morals and values in order to not hinder the cash flow that the dolphin drive brings in.
Spread the word. Raise awareness. Speak out.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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,
Nicole, who will be assisting me during my time in Taiji, will share her experiences on her blog.