|Friday, October 24, 2003|
The Last Samurai in TaijiTom Cruise may be playing the Last Samurai on the big screen but in Taiji, Japan, American Nicholas Hensey is the Last Samurai on the present day reality stage.
Since September 29, Nik has been hunkered down in the southeastern coastal village of Taiji, Japan, home of some of the world's most vicious and cruel dolphin killers. Each day that he is there, the killers become angrier and more threatening.
On October 6th, some sixty Striped dolphins were rounded up and slaughtered with knives and spears.
Nik and his two crewmembers, Brooke McDonald of Canada and Morgan Whorwood of Britain, disrupted the hunt with their cameras. They were attacked by fishermen and then arrested by local police.
There were no charges and the trio was released. Their continued presence discouraged further dolphin drives until October 23 when some thirty Melon-head whales were seen being driven into the Bay.
Nik, Morgan and Brooke began to bang rocks together to distract some of the whales away and seventeen of them were able to escape the drive. The other thirteen were penned to await slaughter.
On the evening of October 23, Brooke and Morgan departed from Taiji.
On October 24, Nik found himself alone in Taiji when the slaughter began. He climbed the cliff to film the slaughter and this resulted in an attack by fishermen who began to hit him with sticks.
He stood them down and at one point challenged any of the fishermen to a duel with kendo swords. These are bamboo swords used for training in the art of Japanese swordsmanship. Nik has been a student of Kendo for some time.
"If you want me to leave, I will, if you beat me in a duel. Who's up for it? Which one of you dolphin killers wants to have a one on one with a man and not a defenseless dolphin. Bamboo swords and no armor"
There were no takers and later that evening Ric O'Barry arrived to reinforce Nik's efforts.
Ric O'Barry is a world famous dolphin defender who has spent nearly four decades working with dolphins and Nik was happy to see him arrive.
Since October 1st, the Japanese fishermen have slain 60 Striped dolphins and 13 Melon-head whales. Last year during this period they had slaughtered hundreds of dolphins so clearly Nik and his crew have had some impact.
Nik Hensey has now spent nearly a month in this hostile and violent village of dolphin killers. He intends to stay.
Sea Shepherd is working to recruit reinforcements to back him up in the field. It is our intention to carry this campaign throughout November to save as many dolphins and small whales as possible.
To see pictures and video of the hunt documented by the Sea Shepherd crew in Japan, please go to (click) http://www.seashepherd.org/taiji/.