Report from Taiji: September 18, 2010
Again for today we have good news to report. There were no dolphins herded into the cove. We are very lucky to have Dwight and Sandra Miller with us at this time.
Matt Smith is now home. He sent me a note about his experience here:
How I Supported Sea Shepherd in Taiji
Matt Smith September 18, 2010
I got home from work one day and turned my computer on. Captain Paul Watson had sent out a call to help the dolphins. That was all it took for me. Like many, I had known about Sea Shepherd from Animal Planet. Then I read Paul Watson’s books and realized that he was not just going to stand around and talk about it or get paid off like the IWC. He was doing something. Then I thought, “Why am I not on a plane right now.” I picked up the phone and called my wife. She asked why don’t you just call someone or write to your congressman. But she knew why. There are those of us that call and write and we need that kind of support. Then there are those of us that feel as I do. We will take the fight to them. They cannot hide from us. My loving and supportive wife knows that about me. Sometimes she doesn’t like it but accepts it. Three days later I stood half way around the world alone. Ready to pick a fight.
I left Osaka airport with little money and no sense of direction. I came here with little intelligence on Taiji. I had tried to get some, but soon realized I was going to be here on my own until Scott West showed up. I had to get gather up as much information for Sea Shepherd as I could. I still had doubts if anyone would show up or I was just going to do this myself. First I had to get there. It was too late in the evening to get a train so I had to spend the night in Osaka. Which is to say I lay in bed and counted the minutes until I could get on the train. I had to get to Taiji. The next day I took the train and by 13:00 I was in Katsurra. It’s around five miles north of Taiji. I had to find a place to store my luggage. I had no car and was going to walk everywhere. Check in time wasn’t till 15:00. I was screwed again. I wouldn’t make it to the cove today. It was impossible. I couldn’t walk into the cove being the only westerner when it was dark out. So I walked the town and got the feel for where to eat and got a hotel. The information office was a HUGE help. They got me squared away.
So I dumped my luggage and started asking around about fishing. What time they start? How to get to Taiji? Are there any dolphin being captured right now? Talking only to non fisherman. Café workers. Making sure not to arouse suspicion. Oh I’m just in town for a couple of days to see the Temple and Whale Museum. I spent a lot of years in the Army. Living in different countries. Adapting to different cultures, quickly. So, I gathered what information I could, hashed out a plan and went to bed. I woke up early. I didn’t know what to expect. I had a while to think about it because I had to walk to Taiji. That was my plan from the start. I had seen the movie “The Cove” like most of us, so I knew what the town looked like. The Dolphin Bridge. The Whale Museum. While I walked that first time I started to get upset. How could they glorify these dolphins on one end of the town and kill them on the other. Then I passed a giant harpoon boat .The thing belongs at the bottom of the sea I thought. Then I passed a tsunami escape mountain that was on my left side. Without going into detail, that part I knew was to the left side which was the north of the cove. For the first time in my trip I was scared. Really scared. I didn’t know what I was going to see. I get very emotional for any life on this planet that suffers and I had not thought about how I was going to deal with what I saw. Would I cry? Would I pick a fight? Would I just jump in and try to free the live ones? Would I die for these dolphins right now? I was scared of what I might do. So I just kept walking. Then I looked towards the ocean.
I saw a very beautiful beach. Kids playing, a dog barking. People picnicking. It was wonderful. I got a smile on my face. No dolphin in the cove. No mass murdering, and I’ll tell you right now that’s what it is. MURDER. So I calmly got out my camera and recorder and started filming. Now, looking back on it I’m glad I did. That was my only chance while I wasn’t being followed. I walked up and down side to side and then decided to check other vantage points. There are still Sea Shepherd in Taiji so I will not go into detail about where I went or what I did. But just to say that the rest of the day I saw it from every vantage point you could see it from. Still no one was following me. Everyone was being nice and friendly to me. It’s a joke now with Scott and Rambo that I just seem to blend in and no one cares about me. I walked back to the hotel and slept. The next day I decided to find the pens that held the dolphin. That meant walking by the cove, the banger boats, the fisherman, the slaughter house and up a giant hill, alone. So I did. I had spoken to Scott and received a picture of where to look and what to look for. That was the only thing I knew for sure. I knew I had found them the second I saw them. Then I looked towards the ocean and saw my friends. I Lost it. My eyes filled with tears and could not catch my breath. It was as if I had been hit with a hammer in my chest and lit my blood on fire. I felt rage.
I stood there for I don’t even know how long. Every second I watched felt like an eternity. I had my glasses on like always so I don’t think anyone paid me any attention at the time. I had to calm down. I thought of my family. I am no good to them dead. This is not why you are here. Get your damn camera out NOW. Floating cages is what they are. I stared all day and only saw two in captivity. I wanted so bad to release them. I was alone. No one would have known. No one knew who I was. But I knew nothing about them. There was no way. I had to leave early. I knew I was pushing my luck, but an image kept popping up in my mind - a picture of Paul Watson sitting in front of an Ice breaker with Robert Hunter on an iceberg trying to save one seal. That picture alone is worth a thousand words. It gave the strength to press on.
The next day I was feeling pretty good. My walks to and from Taiji had been good ones. I had not seen any dolphins in the cove being captured or murdered. Things were going ok. 8:35 Am. While walking up the road I noticed people at the cove. I knew it was on. Immediately I saw dolphins in the cove getting herded by propellers on small boats. They were being separated from friends and family and were being separated by male, female and young. It was appalling. I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I got my camera out and started filming. All throughout the day I was approached by police, Fisherman and detectives about why I was here. I was getting noticed. Still the fisherman went on until noon. Then they quit. There was a bullhorn car guy that was driving through town all day saying I dropped the bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Yelling, fuck you America. Go Home. The very same guy came up and said to me that I should leave before something happens to me. There were people coming and I was not welcome. But I wasn’t going anywhere. Then out of the blue Scott and Elora “RAMBO” showed up. Sea Shepherd had finally arrived.
We talked and decided to stick together. Scott is an amazing man. He is in Taiji for one hour and walks into the police station ready to get arrested wearing his Sea Shepherd gear. I don’t think that his daughter has an ounce of fear in her body either. She has more guts than most guys I know. He was not arrested and the next day we went back to the cove. All day we watched as dolphins were herded from one pen to another, the best ones getting picked out, attached to the side of boats by slings and brought over to the pens for sale. It was disgusting. http://eloramalama.wordpress.com/ is Elora’s website and from then on she documented everything we saw and did. I will end now.
One thing that really hit me hard before I leave you is when Rambo and I went swimming in the cove. It was a hot afternoon and we wanted to go swimming. We swam out to the kill cove and just had a great time. I didn’t think that was possible there, but I will never forget it. It’s such a beautiful place. I will finish up by saying this. They did not kill those dolphins that were not picked out that day. They let them go. I don’t know if it was because of us. I would like to think that. I feel like I did something there those 8 days. I felt like I was there for all the people that wrote us. For my family that gave time and money to help do this. For Sea Shepherd Especially Scott West. He is beyond words and I won’t even try. But most of all I am sorry to the dolphins. We are not all killers and I hope they know that they have friends out here fighting for their very survival, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and their supporters.
We need your help. Spread the word, send donations, and if you can, come join us. To join us (voluntarily, and completely at your own cost and risk) in Taiji, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will get back to you, but please be patient. I cannot keep an eye on the Cove and answer email at the same time.
For the Oceans,
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Follow my daughter’s blog of these events at eloramalama.wordpress.com
Scott and Dwight looking on the lookout for the dolphin hunters. Photo: Sea Shepherd
A dolphin's view of the killing cove. Photo: Dwight Miller
Current Team in Taiji: Elora, Sandra, Dwight, Scott. Photo: Sea Shepherd