January 20, 2012
Operation Infinite Patience: January 19, 2012
The second Monday of January is a holiday in Japan. It is a time when the young men and women of the town who have “come of age” that year are acknowledged as adults. It is generally a cheerful time, full of pageantry. The dolphin killers of Taiji failed to recognize the holiday and instead went about harassing a pod of Risso’s dolphins. Two of these dolphins were sent off to imprisonment and the remaining seven were cut up and eaten. It seems that the Risso, along with Pilot Whale, is very popular among the dolphin eaters here.
The bloodshed did not end there. On the tenth of January, the next day, the killers struck again. This time they claimed the lives of 43-47 Striped dolphins. We have been told that Striped dolphin meat is “lower” grade and much of it rots on the store shelves.
The 15th of January was the next time the killers struck and again it was Striped dolphins. It was a very large pod and when more than half of them made a run for it, the killers, who at first tried to retrieve them, forcibly separated the two groups. This was not an act born of mercy or kindness, it was economics. The price for Striped dolphin meat just did not warrant killing more than the 34 beings they killed that day. It was heart wrenching watching the group who were not killed persistently attempt to come to the aid of those who were killed. There were young ones in the dead group. I wonder if it was their mothers who tried so hard to help.
The weather has been favorable to dolphins since then. Either the killers have elected to stay home or their efforts among the white caps were futile. We like this weather and celebrate each day the wind blows and the rain falls.
We have been very clear that if the killing stops, the Cove Guardians will leave Taiji. What would the dolphin killers do if they stopped killing dolphins? Well, they have boats and know how to use them. Perhaps they could become honorable fishermen like their friends in town. We saw them catch tuna from their boats while they were out hunting for dolphins this week. We know that they catch fish when they are not chasing and killing dolphins. This seems like a natural course for these fishermen.
Fishing is probably not as lucrative as dolphin killing. It is not about tradition and honor with these guys. They want everyone to think that they are following in the ancient and venerable traditions of their forefathers, but the “tradition” of driving in dolphins like this, is only about 40 years old. It is not about tradition - it is about money. The dolphin killers have some of the biggest boats in the harbor. They seem to have the choice berths for their boats and even the better parking spots for their cars. They swagger about town. It must be hard to think about becoming more respectable and humble like their neighbors.
Perhaps some of the older men would want to retire and let their sons take on the boats. The same sons who have come of age yet must lurk in their fathers’ shadows. The sons could fish and use the boats to take paying tourists to watch dolphins in the wild. They certainly know how to find dolphins. There are a number of groups standing ready to help these men find other work.
The people of Taiji (or most of them anyway) are tired of the negative reputation the dolphin killers have given the town. They are also tired of all of the foreigners running around, especially those from Sea Shepherd. They are tired of the extensive police presence in their tiny town and they are tired of having to pay the bill for all of those policemen.
There is a solution: Stop killing dolphins and Sea Shepherd will go away. Have the killers take up honorable activities, like those of their neighbors, and Sea Shepherd will stay away. Until then, we are here to stay.
Dutch Cove Guardian Erwin Vermeulen will be put on trial next week. He was arrested on December 16, 2011, for alleged assault on a dolphin entertainment industry employee. Erwin has remained incarcerated since his arrest and is following Gandhi’s example by not requesting bail; let the Wakayama government pay to feed and house him.
We said farewell to Cove Guardian Ethan Wolf on the 15th and hello the same day to Stephen Wiltshire. The coming days will see a significant increase in the number of Cove Guardians in Taiji and February will be a very busy month for the authorities here. We are working steadily on our plans for a year round presence. We will have more information on that point later in the season. If we are here all season, families can come here on their summer (northern hemisphere) holidays to join the Cove Guardians and students will be more readily able to join us as well. I wonder if the police are ready to spend their summers in Taiji.
If you are interested in joining us in March, next season -which begins on September 1, or over the summer, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org Keep the ever important calls and emails hammering the Japanese embassies and consulates.