Report from Taiji: October 11
First Rule of Law Enforcement: Do not bluff
dolphins being "pushed" into the cove
Today was supposed to be another dolphin free day. The “fishermen” of Taiji had announced that they would not be putting out to sea today because they were continuing with their festival. They lied. The dolphin hunting boats were out early and unfortunately for a pod of Risso's dolphins, this meant disaster.
The pod of 15-20 dolphins was pushed into the cove with callous efficiency and left there. The day unfolded as we have all too often been accustomed to expect. The dolphins were left alone. Fishermen patrolled up on the street level. Plain-clothes police officers and uniformed Coast Guard Officers milled about. Protesters of various ilk shouted from their truck mounted loudspeakers. Curious locals wandered around and the Cove Guardians maintained a vigil. This time was a bit different though in that there were also two reporters and a movie film crew present. No one can deny that our presence here is getting attention.
Captain Paul Watson authorized me to make a deal with the fishermen. We arranged to speak with a senior fisherman and offered to pay the fishermen the “value” of these dolphins if they would agree to set the dolphins free. Sea Shepherd does not have that kind of money, but Captain Watson felt that if we arranged the deal, then donors would come forward to help us put together the ransom money. This man emphatically rejected our offer and said that these dolphins are part of ongoing business and that the fishermen need to ensure that this business continues so their children will have jobs. He added that they would not accept donated money anyway, but only “hard earned cash.” There is some kind of wiggy attitude here about what it means to donate money or volunteer one’s time. Apparently, these are absolutely foreign concepts in Japan. This man refused to tell us his name, but we will be posting video of this encounter and perhaps someone can identify him from the video.
Another thing different about today was the policemen’s explicit warning to us not to swim in the cove while dolphins are contained there. They made it very clear to us that if anyone were to enter the water, that person would be arrested. They had not counted on Steven Thompson of the Taiji Dolphin Action Group. Steven felt they were bluffing and said that it is very unlikely that swimming could be an unlawful activity. He knew that net cutting would clearly be unlawful, but believed that swimming would be lawful.
Steven proved his point by jumping into the water and swimming out to the closest net. From there he tossed a ball over the net towards the captive dolphins. He wanted them to have some form of activity that could possibly take their minds off of their situation. We wondered if they knew that the next dawn was likely to be their last.
Of course there was quite a hue and a cry when he jumped. The police moved in. The fishermen called their buddies and very quickly there were about 30 of them in an angry huddle. More Coast Guard Officers arrived. The film crew and reporters turned their full attention to Steven. It was amazing to watch.
Steve addressing the crowd
Steven re-emerged from the water and stood upon the rocks. The police chastised him for the “rude” thing he had done, but took no action against him. In a loud, clear, and calm voice Steven proclaimed that the babies and pregnant females should be spared. The fishermen, while obviously remaining very angry with us, turned their anger to the police because there had been no arrest. I learned early on in my law enforcement career not to bluff.
Steven is holding a vigil out there this night. He intends to stay awake with the dolphins and fast, as they are in a forced fast. We will re-join him before dawn. Together, we will document their fate and honor these dolphins as best we can.
We were joined, albeit shortly, by Juanita Carter of Las Vegas and Stacey Ferdinand of Miami. Both of these women work in Japan and had driven 7 hours after seeing the movie, The Cove. They brought us chocolate cake, which was appreciated. They had to return to their work this afternoon and will be missed. We can expect to see them again around Thanksgiving.
We need your help. Spread the word, send donations, join in the international day of protest and in the Worldwide Anti-Whaling Day, and avoid all travel to Japan except to become a Cove Guardian with us here in Taiji. To join us (voluntarily, and completely at your own cost and risk) in Taiji, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will get back to you, but please be patient. I cannot keep an eye on the Cove and answer email at the same time.
For the Oceans,
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Click here to learn more about the international day of protest on October 14, 2010.
Click here to learn more about the 5 November 2010 Worldwide Anti-Whaling Day.
The Blog Log:
My daughter, Elora Malama, has been with me here since day one and keeps a blog of her experiences.
Current Cove Guardians John and Jackie Legg have a blog about their experience here.
Future Cove Guardians Tarah and Carolyn have started blogs about their endeavors.
The Taiji Dolphin Action Group blog.
late afternoon at the cove
waiting for Steven to return
Juanita, Stacey, Junior, Jackie, John, Elora, Scott, Patricia
dolphins in the cove