Veteran Dolphin Project Cove Monitor Karla Sanjur has arrived in Taiji. Her arrival coincides with the one year anniversary of the violent capture of Angel. Karla will be monitoring the cove for the next few weeks. Please welcome her. ~ Ric O’Barry
Today I arrived in Taiji on thankfully, a Blue Cove Day. We don’t get many of these in January so I was very thankful for it. In fact, January is the worst month for dolphins. The weather is clear and sunny and the current brings them closer to Taiji. I was here last year in January, ironically, also on a Blue Cove Day, only to wake up the next morning to the biggest pod of bottlenose dolphins the fishermen had seen in a long time. There were over 250 of them. I had never seen anything like it.
Amongst the pod was an albino calf. White as snow, she shined in the water – you couldn’t miss her. Every time I saw her she was next to her mom, swimming side by side. I thought to myself, “She looks like an angel with fins,” and I guess, everyone thought so too. She was the first one taken into captivity. A prize, rare albino dolphin to attract the masses. Who knows how much one would pay to see an albino? The rest of the pod was divided into groups and endured three days of captive selection. In the end, they took around 35 captive, slaughtered around 60-70 and the rest were driven out to sea. Dumped out to sea, to be specific.
Angel, as the world would get to know her, was taken to the Taiji Whale Museum to live a life of captivity. Today, on the one year anniversary of her capture, Ric and I went to visit her. She has gotten very big and is still just as beautiful as the first time I saw her. She swam up to me and started playing a bit. She rubbed her nose against the glass and I checked it to see if she had any scars from the injury she got the day of her capture. She does, but it is small. She then looked into my eyes and I couldn’t help but shed a tear. When you look at her – at all dolphins – you get a sense that there is a “someone” inside. A non-human person who understands and can perceive things clearly. It broke my heart.
She is in a dirty tank with four, other dolphins, none of them bottlenose. It is hard to believe she was once capable of swimming as many miles as she wanted, each and every day. In this tank, all she does is swim in circles, period. Nowhere to go, nothing to do. And her family? Long dead. I couldn’t help but think about the wild albino calf I saw swimming side by side with it’s mother. How free, how unique and priceless her existence in the ocean was. It seems so senseless to me. A sentient being who had a family and a beautiful life, reduced to entertainment for profit. I wonder if the people who pay to see her know her story? Would they care? I think they would.
But we know and we care. Even though we can’t free her, we can fight for her. We can make a change so that captivity becomes a thing of the past. It all starts with education and awareness. I really believe if people knew the truth behind the captivity industry they would turn away from it. It is happening now and we can keep this momentum going. For Angel, for Lolita, and for all the others who lost their freedom for this cruel and senseless form of entertainment. The time is NOW.