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May 5, 2011

Report from Taiji: May 5

Killing whalesKilling whalesThis morning began like way too many do in the evil little town of Taiji.  Before light, some two dozen so-called fishermen arrived at the Fisherman’s Union (FU).  These individuals chatted with their buddies around the barrel fire and ate a breakfast. Well before sunrise, when there was just a hint of light, they took to their skiffs to bring death and misery.

The pilot whales in the Cove did not quietly go to their deaths. They fought as best they could, churning up the water and dashing on the rocks. Ultimately though, 22 to 25 of them were pushed into the killing Cove. Three of these were very large, too large in fact to be gutted on the barge. Their paralyzed bodies were dragged all the way from the Cove to the Taiji harbor and were pulled up the steps under the tarps.  Those pilot whales not killed today had to swim in the blood of their family members and listen to their death cries. They will die in the early light tomorrow.

These whales did not suffer out of sight though. The whale killers were quite surprised when Sea Shepherd showed up yesterday afternoon. This morning I was out on the rocks of the Cove when the torment and killing began. So too were five young Japanese who would not let this tragedy go unseen. I applaud their courage for there were many guards, police officers, and white boots about. Unknown to them all, Brian Barnes of Save Japan Dolphins, was watching too. He was secreted up on the hillside with his camera. Brian and I have been through earthquake and tsunami together and tomorrow we will be watching when the remaining 30-40 pilot whales are killed.

Gutting the whalesGutting the whalesToday was the continuation of a holiday. The weather was grand and by late morning there were many families on the beach of the cove. Many were oblivious to what was happening nearby. Others were enthralled at watching the whales bobbing around in the nets. I was able to point out to some that there was blood in the water and they were appalled.  Old Sour Suji was down at the Cove and saw all of this.  He must have not wanted for all of these people to see the thrashing and mayhem of driving more whales into the killing Cove would have brought.  This is why the killing did not continue this day.

There is hope that if the message can get out, the Japanese will bring a halt to the senseless killing in Taiji. There is a long way to go though because the media in Japan propels the party line, which is full of lies and half truths.  The people are not told about the dangerous levels of mercury and other poisons in the fish and marine mammals they consume.  In fact, they are lied to and told that the meat is perfectly safe. Some though are beginning to see the façade because of the lies surrounding the Fukushima reactors.

We have been asked why we are making noise about whales and dolphins when there is so much human misery in Japan at the moment. I do not see how the two are linked. The misery inflicted on the cetaceans is no less now than it would be if there had not been an earthquake.  Are we to stop our efforts to protect them because of an earthquake? The better question to ask is why the Japanese government is allowing this slaughter to happen. Why is the government allowing these two dozen individuals in Taiji to bring shame and dishonor to the entire nation when there is so much misery here already?  Almost all other civilized nations have laws protecting marine mammals.  Why does Japan cling to the stoneage and bring world condemnation down on itself?

Scott West

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Pilot whales in the killing cove
and on the gutting barge

Video credit: Sea Shepherd (1:45)


Herding the whales into the coveHerding the whales into the cove Herding the whales into the coveHerding the whales into the cove
Victim of whale molestersVictim of whale molesters Those whales that remainThose whales that remain