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February 26, 2011

Report from Taiji: February 26

The Taiji dolphin hunters take a break from the cleaningThe Taiji dolphin hunters take a break from
the cleaning
With the world still celebrating the victory in the Southern Ocean, the Cove Guardians awoke today to a small victory of their own. When we made our rounds through the Taiji harbor early this morning, we were confused that all the banger boats were still in, the sun was shining, there was no wind, and it was, by definition in these parts, perfect weather for hunting dolphins.

As we passed the Fisherman’s Union (FU), we were greeted with the sight of all the dolphin hunters scrubbing and cleaning every inch of the butcher house. They were pressure washing the floor, hosing down tarps, and piling trash next to the burn barrel in the parking lot. But what really grabbed our attention was the fact that the tarp hut, which blocks our view of the transfer of bodies from the boats through the bay doors of the butcher house, was gone. As we stood there, several skiffs came from the Cove that were piled with more tarps. These too were washed and folded, and then the oil boom that contains the blood flow from the butcher house was pulled up, and also washed and folded. Our Japanese Cove Guardian approached a local and inquired about the activity at the FU and he told us that the dolphin-hunting season was officially over. Could it be true?

We headed to the Cove to have a look inside the killing cove and sure enough, every single tarp was gone. Today was an unbelievable day. After some excited group photos at the Cove, we headed up to Tsunami Park, and sat in silence on the cliff overlooking the killing cove. To see it free of blood and tarps was a sight to behold, and we each spent time with our thoughts, enjoying the comfortable silence of a group that has been through hell together and has now been liberated.

Leaving on March 1st does not seem so daunting now. Instead, I will walk away feeling victorious and knowing that no dolphins will be dying while I resume my life in Seattle. There are no words for this experience I’ve undertaken with Sea Shepherd as a Cove Guardian.  Although these were the three most difficult months of my life, I have gained so much more than I ever would have if I were still in my photography studio back home. The friendships that I have established with other Cove Guardians are priceless to me, and I will be forever grateful to have each one of them in life.

To each of you out there who support Sea Shepherd and read my Cove Guardian updates, thank you. Your support and encouragement are the backbone of any campaign. Don’t ever lose your passion.

The blood-free killing cove and the beach of the Cove from Tsunami ParkThe blood-free killing cove and the beach of the Cove
from Tsunami Park

And thank you also to the Taiji dolphin hunters for reading my updates, because I know you do! I want to single out the fisherman with the black frame glasses and tell him that I wish he had looked at me while I was talking to him that day at the Cove nearly three months ago when I first started in Taiji. I know you understood what I was saying; please know that my words were genuine. I don’t know him, but I see something in his eyes that makes me believe that he can change…he could change and influence the others to change as well. As Margaret Mead once stated, “All social change comes from the passion of individuals.” Use your voice and do what you know is right. He and I will be seeing each other next season.

Spread the word. Raise awareness. Speak out.

Here is your opportunity to become a Cove Guardian.  Write to us at coveguardian@seashepherd.org. We will get back to you, but please be patient.  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 the dolphin-hunting season, 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

After being pulled from the water, the oil boom that contains the blood dries in the sun in front of the butcherhouseAfter being pulled from the water, the oil boom that contains the blood dries in the sun in front of the butcherhouse A dolphin fisherman removes the banger pole from the boatA dolphin fisherman removes the banger pole from the boat

Cove Guardians Nicole, Annie, Pierre, Markus, Georgia, Libby, Thomas, & Tyler celebrate after hearing that the season has endedCove Guardians Nicole, Annie, Pierre, Markus, Georgia, Libby, Thomas, & Tyler celebrate after hearing that
the season has ended

Nicole, who will be assisting me during my time in Taiji, will share her experiences on her blog.


 
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