Thursday, November 17, 2011

After Shocks

I had hoped I would be able to overcome the emotions felt while here in Taiji but I feel paralyzed and unable to react, much less write a report each day.

I am thankful to not have seen a slaughter in the week I have been here, I saw several drives but the dolphins outsmarted the molesters (could we expect anything else?). This morning (Thursday, 29th) there were several moments when the bangers puffed black smoke, a sure sign they’re gunning towards a pod to drive in. Thankfully within several hours all the bangers cam in empty handed after a very odd display of boating behaviour. The harpoon held out for almost eight hours today instead of coming in right behind the bangers. This too came empty. Though the weather has been excellent for dolphin hunting these past few days it seems that the migrations through the waters of Taiji have not truly begun, explaining the lack of killing.

I hope against everything that Marley, Carisa, Rosie, and all the other volunteers
 are as lucky as I am to not see a slaughter. I know in October and November this will change but one can hope. I will be back, and then I will most likely not be so fortunate.

This week in Taiji has focused on the captivity of dolphins, the process in which they acquire them and the insanity following. Prior to this week I had seen captive cetaceans only once, at Marine Land in Niagra Falls. Fourteen at the time I was battling internally between having a fit at my grandmother for taking me to such a place or putting my big girl pants on and just having a good day with my grama. Being fourteen, I chose the latter. I could not understand why everyone was cheering and clapping when the thirty foot orca would leap around a 60 foot tank. Why was it so exciting to see dolphins swimming? Is it the proximity? Is it that people feel “safe” being so close to those particular beings when they have been “tamed”?

Dolphins and larger whales have always been and always will be vastly more breathtaking when seen in their natural setting. Skimming the surface, catapulting themselves through waves, flipping and twisting around each other in the open seas. All friends and family I know would put up a fight if they found a dog in a crate too small to turn around in, but the majority of those same people would eagerly go and see a dolphin in a fish bowl.  

They’re exotic, they’re “rare”, beautiful and athletic, capable of masterful feats of strength and agility.

But are you seeing the slavery?

Are you seeing the starvation?

Are you seeing how many die before that one perfect dolphin is trained and shipped out?

Are you seeing their stress, their fear, their depression?

I have seen innumerable abused, neglected, and ill animals in my short life but I have never seen an animal’s spirit beaten until this week.

You can submit a beagle to the most horrendous vivisection and they will still wag their tail at the prospect of having an affectionate pat. You can find a starved pet about to tip over the edge and they will still try to eat if offered to them. Even a factory farmed animal would take any chance at escape. They all fight back and try to survive.

For the past seven days I have stood by and watch a life slowly slip away. This dolphin will not eat unless tube fed, he/she moves so little at times we have thought that life was already gone. To have been driven from the vast expanse of ocean and after having watched the rest of their pod be hacked, stabbed and drowned, to be put into a four walled hell hole of a concentration camp would beat just about anyone. I am surprised that not all dolphins give up, some wise up fairly quickly that doing idiotic tricks for equally idiotic people equals being fed for the day, but some are past caring even when handfuls of dead fish are literally thrown at their head.

They are being driven insane. There is no rationale. There is no validating this. It is torture pure and simple. If humans beings were submitted to such genocide we would be up in arms, I would hope at least. My faith in humanity is at an all time low at the moment.

I do not dislike the Japanese as a people, but I can say I dislike the majority of people I have seen at the harbours and dolphin resorts in Taiji. A complete disregard for the natural world, especially the oceans. The mass cetacean slaughter aside, there is the gross over fishing of Japanese waters (as well as all over the word with countries they are paying off to allow surplus fishing), the complete lack of consideration for pollution and garbage in the waters. We have seen acts of tidying the harbours, the cove, the streets, etc after the recent typhoon, but this is not an act of kindness for the earth. This is to create an image of cleanliness. They do not remove the waste and dispose of it in an appropriate way. No, they pick it up, move it, and dump it into a part of the ocean not visible to the Japanese people or others.

Yesterday we watched as the dolphin trainers/molesters picked up many plastic bags, pieces of Styrofoam, and other floating debris from inside the pens, only to then pick up a floating garbage can, toss it all it, then throw that over the side of the dock, only to let it sink to the bottom of the harbour.

These people make me sick. I have had a knot in my stomach since seeing the first captive dolphin in the pens, now it has turned to stone. A solid, unmoving stone of disgust.

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