Sea Shepherd in Taiji
2010 – Ongoing Presence in the Town Without Pity
On August 31 2010, a small but select group of Sea Shepherd volunteer activists – all from Brisbane, Australia arrived in Taiji, Japan. Brisbane Coordinator Michael Dalton and his team went there despite the threats issued by ultra right-wing Japanese nationalists.
Sea Shepherd believes the key to saving the dolphins is for people to constantly be in Taiji, so that the slaughter is not allowed to go on out of sight of cameras and witnesses.
We issued a call to put boots on the sand at Dolphin Ground Zero to get as many people as possible to come here. If a hundred people could be here throughout the ordeal faced by these dolphins, the killing could be significantly reduced, if not stopped altogether. These dolphins should not have to die out of sight and out of mind. And it does not have to be the same hundred people. People can come for two weeks or even a few days and then be replaced by others. Surely compassion for the dolphins can bring caring people to Dolphin Ground Zero here in Taiji.
Taiji town, in Wakayama prefecture, is a sleepy little fishing village on the eastern coast of Japan about four driving hours from Osaka (Kansai) international airport. Taiji is considered the birthplace of traditional whale hunting in Japan, with a history that dates back to the 1600’s.
Travelling down and around the coast from Osaka to Taiji, you will see that the entire coastline is dotted with similar small towns – all with the same style of harbors and small fishing boats. What sets Taiji apart from other towns is the refusal to accept that there are alternatives to this long-held custom of slaughtering small cetaceans. Sea Shepherd has been opposing the Japanese dolphin slaughter since 1981 when Captain Paul Watson successfully negotiated a decade long cessation to the dolphin kills at Iki Island.
Visit our Related Articles page to read all about the 2010 Taiji Dolphin Defense Campaign.
Together we can stop this slaughter.
Sea Shepherd Crewmembers Risk Their Lives for Taiji Dolphins
On October 6, 2003, after hiding out for several weeks in the cliffs overlooking the bay, crewmembers of Sea Shepherd's Taiji Dolphin Campaign filmed and photographed fishermen slaughtering dolphins in Taiji Harbor.
The crew were attacked, intimidated and their lives threatened by local community members for daring to expose this previously unheard of atrocity. Some of the photographs they took are on these pages. You can see that the blood of the dolphins turned the sea red. Upon the release of the photos, AP Photo Japan gave testimony that the photos had not been revised in any manner.
The Sea Shepherd crew remained strong in Taiji for a month and a half in spite of growing hostilities directed at them by local fishermen. The crew filmed and photographed at every opportunity, and continued their watch over the harbor. VIEW VIDEO
On November 18, 2003, two crewmembers, Allison Lance Watson and Alex Cornelissen, dove into the bay and swam out to free 15 dolphins penned in to be slaughtered the next morning. VIEW VIDEO
They swam for over an hour untying and bringing down sections of the net creating escape routes for the dolphins. A passerby on shore called the Taiji police who contacted several fishing boats out in the harbor. After a valiant struggle in the water, they swam to shore and were immediately arrested. They were held in separate jails for 23 days without bail or communication with the outside world. With the help of other groups, protests were organized by Sea Shepherd supporters in 28 cities last year.
The world, including many Japanese citizens, saw for the first time, the horrendous brutality of this slaughter of beautiful creatures. That imagery made international front page news and stunned the world. Dolphin lovers worldwide were outraged and condemned the Japanese government for condoning this ritual of death.
The Japanese authorities' reaction to this was to post signs in the village and along the cliffs making it illegal to film or photograph the dolphin slaughter. This year they have stretched large tarpaulins above the bay to hide what they are doing, and guards are stationed to keep potential dolphin protectors from approaching or photographing what is happening to the animals.
Despite the thousands of letters, emails and protests sent last year, the Japanese government permits the hunt to go on, allowing over 23,000 dolphins to be killed. Our response must be to increase the publicity and the pressure we put on the Japanese government to halt this annual slaughter.