Report from Taiji: December 18
Baby dolphin, in bottom left hand cornerToday was a day that has challenged me as a photographer, as a writer and as a human being. I am sitting here now, fumbling with my words, trying to find an appropriate way to explain what happened in the Cove today. The fact is, there simply aren’t any words to describe the callousness of the actions that took place.
A pod of roughly 20 striped dolphins were driven into the Cove. Perhaps they were the remaining dolphins from the pod that was slaughtered a few days ago. Amongst them was a tiny little baby, the smallest any of us had yet seen. Judging by its size, Nicole estimated it to be less than a month old. Panic was ruling this baby’s actions and it was repeatedly jumping completely out of the water. To pretend that I understood the fear it was feeling would be an insult to this precious little creature.
Tears filled my eyes behind my sunglasses and it took everything I had to continue to document and photograph. I knew when I came here that as a photographer, this would be the most challenging subject I’ve ever taken on. I also knew that as a photographer, my work could potentially make a difference in the lives of these dolphins. Now, as a writer, I am trying to convey to you the feelings I was experiencing as I watched this innocent little child. I fear that I am simply not doing justice to this baby’s life, death, nor its memory.
Nicole and Pierre watch the dolphins being driven into the CoveI go back and forth between hating these men for the career they’ve chosen and reasoning that they are trying to make ends meet in a town with little to no perceived opportunity. Today, I was overcome with contempt for these men. I do not understand how a human being, no matter their occupation, age, gender, race, can take the life of something so small, delicate and innocent. Do these men not have souls? Do they not stop and imagine how they would feel if someone were to brutally murder their child?
As we stood on top of the hill overlooking the killing cove, the sound of dolphins thrashing under the tarps was nearly unbearable. Meanwhile, in the background was the loudspeaker from the dolphin show at the nearby Whale Museum. Happy voices echoed sickeningly through the hills surrounding the Cove while lives were taken.
It was one of the most challenging days for me personally and I could see the torment on the faces of my fellow Cove Guardians. Days like this simply defeat us. Pierre, a new Guardian, joined us yesterday afternoon and experienced a brutal introduction to the Cove. But this is what happens here daily, the innocent are slaughtered viciously and the murderers go home and eat the dolphin meat their wives have cooked up for them.
Here is your opportunity to become a Cove Guardian. To join us in Taiji (voluntarily, and completely at your own cost and risk), write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will get back to you, but please be patient. We cannot keep an eye on the Cove and answer e-mails at the same time. Contributions to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to keep our official presence here are needed and welcome. These contributions cover the costs for transport, telephone, equipment, supplies, food, and lodging for the official Sea Shepherd representative. We will remain here through the end of March and will return for the next season in September 2011.
Thank you to the citizens of Japan who are weighing these issues and beginning to take a stand to solve them. Thank you to everyone who is on the frontlines of this war. This is a war to save ourselves from ourselves. Without your calling and writing Japanese embassies and your own governments, there will be no change. Keep it up! Every time dolphins are pushed into the Cove, let them have it. Every time there is blood in the water, let them have it. Make good consumer choices. Inform everyone you know about the tragedy here and how it is linked to the captive dolphin trade. All who patronize a dolphin show have blood on their hands.
For the dolphins,
Call or write to help end this slaughter
|Dolphins stuck in the net during slaughter
||Fishermen sit on top of bodies piled underneath a green tarp
The Cove Guardians
Nicole, who will be assisting me during the next three months, will share her experiences while in Taiji on her blog.
Rupert Imhoff, who is also assisting with this campaign, has started a YouTube channel of video taken during his time in Taiji.
Scott’s daughter, Elora Malama West, who assisted him, will continue her blog from home.