Report from Taiji: December 26
A dolphin sling is left unattended at Dolphin BaseFor six days and counting the dolphin migratory route along the coastal waters of Japan has not been a path to absolute doom. In the grand scheme of things, six days is only the blink of an eye but six days is better than nothing and this break has been a much-needed respite for dolphins and Cove Guardians alike.
Yesterday, new Cove Guardian Andy was able to get some up close and personal footage of the trainers working with the dolphins at Dolphin Base. Hopeful trainers come to Dolphin Base to learn how to train dolphins and spend time living and working at this base, interacting with their pet slaves on a daily basis. The footage that Andy captured shows the sickeningly false happiness of the captive dolphin industry. The trainers wave and smile at the camera, while dolphins inhale their dead fish as if they’ve been starved (they probably have been as captives are often starved under the motivation to perform), and tourists gasp in marveled entertainment at the sight of jumping dolphins.
Rusted pipes on the side of a tank at Dolphin BaseThroughout my childhood, I wanted nothing more than to become a dolphin trainer. Even as a very young child, I was so enamored by these creatures that it was nearly too much for my little heart and soul to handle. When I was eight, my mom took my brother, sister, and me to Marine Land in San Diego. As we watched the orcas and dolphins perform, I knew that I was destined to someday become a trainer. However, as is the norm with life, as I grew older my fairytale shattered and I started to understand the truth about captivity and how inhumanely horrible it is. My views on wildlife began to change and I discovered the amazing world of conservation. Being so young and discovering something so wonderful was like having a buffet of amazing opportunity laid out before me: wildlife conservation, earth conservation, marine conservation, habitat conservation…you name it and there’s some way to conserve it. The sad part is that not everyone has a desire to conserve.
When I think now about how desperately I wanted to be a dolphin trainer, it nearly makes me sick to my stomach. Now that I know the truth, I could never and would never put any animal through that type of trauma and humiliation. If trainers enter their profession because they claim to love these animals, then why were the Dolphin Base trainers present in the killing cove during the Taiji dolphin slaughter on December 16? The trainers were loading their selected captive dolphins while the slaughter was happening all around them. There is absolutely no way these trainers can pretend not to know what happens to the dolphins that don’t get chosen by them for slavery.
This is a sick and twisted industry and the only way to shut down the slaughter is to shut down the demand for captives. January 8 is National Anti SeaWorld day in the United States. If you’re near San Diego, Orlando, or San Antonio, consider joining the other protesters that will be outside these SeaWorld establishments on that day. Tell your friends and family about the ugly truth and make sure they do not visit these parks for entertainment under any circumstances. Together, we can make a difference.
A Dolphin Base staff member works
with the dolphinsHere 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,
Trainers Work With Their Dolphins on December 26th
Video credit: Andy Romanowski (1:28)
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.