Report from Taiji: December 25
A peaceful Cove on Christmas DayChristmas Day in Taiji, Japan brought us many reasons to celebrate. First, the hunters stayed home with their families and gave the dolphins freedom to migrate past this country with no threat of slavery or death. That in it of itself is a Christmas miracle.
Second, we had a new Cove Guardian join us yesterday on the frontlines of this war against the dolphin slaughter. Andy comes to us from Australia, via Germany and Poland, a roundabout way to end up in Japan but I am continually amazed by how life works out the way it’s meant to and people end up exactly where it is meant for them and where they are needed.
If someone had told me a few months ago that I would be celebrating Christmas in Japan, I would have thought they are insane but here I am, enjoying one of the best Christmases of my life with my new friends, most of whom come from countries very different from my own. Life brought each and every one of us together to be here in this place, in this moment. It is so amazing to me that I am a part of this.
The captive dolphin pens at Dolphin BaseThe other morning, at 2 a.m. to be specific, one of the women that work the front desk of our hotel was down in the lobby busily decorating a Christmas tree. When the Cove Guardians came down that morning, the tree was fully decorated and lit up, displayed with the intent of making us feel right at home. Christmas is not a holiday that is widely celebrated in Japan and the fact that this woman went to great lengths to put up a tree and decorate it in the early morning hours, proves just how accommodating the Japanese people are. I was so moved by her selfless act of generosity and genuine concern for us that I wanted to throw my arms around her. However, hugging is not a recognized or acceptable gesture in Japan, especially when the people are near strangers. Although I come from a very hug-oriented family, my respect for this woman won over me and I resisted the urge to invade her personal space.
Tonight, during Christmas evening, we sat in the hotel lobby swapping stories, sharing laughter, passing chocolate, and watching episodes of Whale Wars. The atmosphere was one of contentment and peace. While the fear of what tomorrow will bring is always in the back of our minds, tonight we were happy for the moment to simply be.
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,
Andy, Pierre, Lisa, Nicole & Libby
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.