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May 6, 2011

Report from Taiji: May 6

Pilot whales being driven into the killing covePilot whales being driven into the killing coveA second night of terror passed for the pilot whales locked in the waters of the cove.  This time, they had the blood of their family members to keep them company in the water.  Then morning came and with it the killers.

Among the killers this morning were jailers.  Marine mammal trainers from Dolphin Base and the Taiji Whale museum harassed the remaining pilot whales and eventually chose two creatures to begin a life of misery in forced servitude.  The trainers smiled as they carried away their two prizes.  Then the killing began.

About 10 were killed this morning in addition to the 22-25 who were killed yesterday.  The bodies of the slain were dragged through the group of the living on their way to the butcher house.  At one point, a lone whale slowly emerged from the killing cove and made its way over to where the others were waiting.  It moved as though injured or exhausted, or both.

For some reason, the killers made an opening in the outer net.  Perhaps it was to keep the bodies from becoming entangled as they were dragged by.  The remaining whales did not take advantage of this opening though.  Instead, they stayed nearby where their family members had been taken from them.  Their leaders, parents, and children were gone and they were not going to abandon them to head for the sea.  Had anyone cut the nets, the same thing would have happened.

Later, the killers closed the opening and began a search of the water with skin divers.  Perhaps they were seeking the whale that got away.  Then, more than 48 hours after they had been driven from their life as an extended family unit out in the ocean, the survivors were driven from the cove and forced back out to sea.  They had no one to lead them and many were juveniles who may not survive without their parents. A third of the pod has not been killed.

So, why were they not killed with the rest?  Did the Japanese government respond to the international pressure brought on them by this capture and slaughter?  We know the killers, jailers, and other dolphin/whale harassers of Taiji did not set them free out the kindness of their hearts.  We observed them for many months and saw that there is no kindness in them.  Only brutality and greed inhabit their souls.  The only answer is that the outpouring of support for these whales from people all over world, who took the time and trouble to call or email the embassies, encouraged the government to force the killers to let them go.

And why this drive-hunt and slaughter in May?  The killers made a big show of putting away their tools and tarps at the end of February.  We have learned that the Taiji officials and the central government of Japan have used the March 11 tsunami as an excuse to resume the hunt in the water off of Taiji.  Ostensibly, this hunt was approved because the Taiji whale killers lent their coastal whaling boats to whaling towns in the north whose boats had been destroyed by the tsunami.   Do not let them tell you the whale meat is for the tsunami victims.  The meat from those killed yesterday is currently for sale in the markets nearby.

In actuality, the hunt was approved to help the Taiji killers recoup their losses from the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian presence over the seasonand the resulting worldwide condemnation.  We cut their kill numbers in half this past season.  This special hunting season began on May 3, which happens to be the day that Brian Barnes of Save Japan Dolphins and I appeared in Taiji.  It supposedly will run through the end of May.

With all of the death, destruction, and environmental havoc in Japan, why would the government pour resources into more senseless death and environmental harm?  Why does this government allow the 26 or so killers in Taijito shame and besmirch the reputation of Japan?  For everyone who did take the time to call or write, thank you.  You are part of the crew and without your efforts there would be no hope for the whales and dolphins in this part of the world.  Keep it up.  Do not let the Japanese government get away with this.  Encourage the government to bring Japan into the circle of civilized nations – which is where many Japanese want to be.

Scott West

Pilot whales trying to escape the killing cove

Video credit: Sea Shepherd (1:29)


Pilot whales watch as their brethren are being killed Pilot whales watch as their brethren are being killed
Pilot whales watch as their brethren are being killed