Sunday, September 25, 2011

Taiji: Day One with the Dolphins

Day one reports:

Up at four o’clock to meet Rosie and Peter we headed to the look out on Mountain Pass to watch the boats go out for the drive. We had the brief interview with the local and rather cheerful (with slight frustrated undertones) police. The police headed off but we met them two more times that day. By six they were all out of the harbour (twelve banger boats and one harpoon vessel) so we headed to higher grown to watch them motor out, expecting to be sat watching for several more hours before seeing them come across the horizon line once more. Not half an hour later the alarm was raised that the boats could be seen. They were in the typical “V” formation of a drive, and white caps from terrified dolphins breaking the surface were spotted between the boats.

We raced to Glenda’s Hill in a matter of  minutes, climbing the best stair workout I’ve ever seen in just about five minutes with wheezing and gasping being heard all over the hill. With our team split in two we had fantastic vantage points to monitor the drive. We had a perfect view right into the Cove and the banger boats would have driven the pod directly in front of us.

We watched the pod struggle for three incredibly strenuous hours until they finally made their escape! We could tell the molesters were getting frustrated and angry with not being able to capture the pod. At first only five boats were in formation around the dolphins, but soon they called in the other seven to help. Still no success. Every few minutes we would see a white cap and one or two of the boats would give a great puff of black smoke and dive towards the newly spotted pod. By ten the boats were back into the harbour with many disgruntled molesters milling about.

We were still waiting on the harpoon vessel to return, as in Taiji the quota for drive hunt cetaceans is 2165 per season, the quota for harpoon kills is 509, we needed to be sure they came back empty handed as well. Thankfully both their deck and the ropes trailing behind them were empty (the vessel is too small to hold larger cetaceans so they will simply tie their tails to ropes and attach them to the back of the ship).

 This place is too beautiful to be so full of hate.

While waiting for the harpoon vessel to come in Rosie introduced us to the dolphins being kept at the “Whale Museum”, where you can buy whale and dolphin meat and pat a dolphin at the same time. We are banned from entering the Museum but are able to see the dolphins from the exterior. One bottlenose, donned Ringi, is in a small tank with another, as well as a smaller pacific white sided dolphin. This particular dolphin day after day floats listlessly in one corner of the tank moving only when forced to jump through hoops for the few fish a day allowed to him/her. The clicks I could hear coming from all the tanks were my first hearing dolphins, my first were the depressed monotonous chirps as they occasionally swam to the reaching hands of the museum guests, begging to be fed.

Afterwards we paid a visit to the dolphins captured last year that are being trained by even more molesters at the Dolphin Resort. And these ones really do molest them, the fishermen just hack them apart. These dolphins are kept in group of three to five adults (I’ve seen two juveniles as well) in pens that are no more than five by five metres surface area and approx 2 metres deep. All of these dolphins constantly jump, flip, skyhop, or simply swim in continuous circles from stress and boredom. The police were called shortly to complain about where we parked. Two dolphins were able to escape on the 22nd of september but can be seen every single day circling the pens and communicating with their family members. No cetacean will leave a family member behind, an example of altruism most humans should pay heed to.

One more trip to the harbour to check on the captive dolphins there (where they begin being “trained”, ( read: forced to do tricks for food, very little food). The fishermen/molesters stood watching us for some time until they gave up and most of the cars in the lot drove away. When the harpoon vessel did come in the police were called once more as the three molesters were too afraid to come down the dock while we four women were standing there with our cameras clicking away. After some time we and the police left, with the main officer shouting, “Please make me relax!” as he had been spending most of his day chasing pointless complaints about us around Taiji.

The amount of money the Japanese government is spending on such increased security will show its toll pretty soon, and if not then they’re in some serious denial.

The best you can do help is to stop supporting all fisheries, all industries that exploit the earth. You may think that if you won’t buy dolphin and whale meat that you don’t support the slaughter and insanity but everything is intertwined. If you go to a dolphinarium, aquarium, marine park, or swim-with-the-dolphin program you are contributing. If you are buying any marine life you are contributing to the mass over-fishing of the oceans, which not only greedily take ‘food” for humyns but whose nets also kill on average 12-15 MILLION dolphins annually. If you eat other livestock you are still contributing to the fishing industry as the majority of factory farmed animals are fed fish meal (approx. 1/3 of all the world’s fishing stock is used for this, as well as used for domestic pet food and other materials).

Go vegan. For the planet, the animals, and yourself.

For photos and videos go to and follow @seashepherd on twitter for instant updates. We will not be releasing photos individually, all information can be seen through Sea Shepherd first. To become involved with the Cove Guardian campaign contact for more information. Donations are always welcome and needed.

All together now!

- Adrienne

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