Return to Taiji and Slaughter

By Tia Butt
Cove Monitor
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project

Note:  Hans Peter Roth and Sakura Araki have left Japan for now.  They have been replaced in Taiji by our friend and UK Coordinator, Tia Butt, along with Johanne Aa Rosvoli and Kerry O’Brien as Cove Monitors for Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project.  These are some tough ladies!  I wish them all my best and hope for their safety and peace of mind amidst the very harsh reality that is Taiji. – Ric O’Barry

Coming back to Taiji was a nervous time as usual, and I am back with fellow Cove Monitors Johanna and Kerry.  Waking up this morning, my stomach was turning while I drove to the usual spot where we sit and watch the dolphin hunting boats go out.  The sea was calm, the weather was clear, and it did not look like a good day for our beloved ocean friends.

As suspected the banger boats left the harbor one by one, that familiar sad sight that I have seen so many times before.  I had a feeling that today might not be a good day for the dolphins, but hoped that I would be wrong.

After a couple of hours of the boats being out, we could see them chasing a pod; these animals were giving a good fight as the boats chased them up and down, and it looked like they lost them a couple of times.  Then we would see that sickly sight of the black smoke bellowing out as the boats raced after the dolphin pod.  Eventually we could see a clear drive and could see these poor animals being driven towards the harbor and Cove area by some of the bangers while the other boats went after yet another pod.  That awful banging of the torture poles and the roaring of the boats were pushing these animals closer and closer as we raced to another viewing point.

We were not sure of what type the dolphins were at first.  We moved position again when we realized that they were being driven towards the killing Cove.  Takababe Mountain, which rises just above the Cove, has now been re-opened, and, when up there, we could then see that they looked like around eight Risso’s dolphins.

I have seen many drives before, with a much larger number of dolphins.  There were just eight here, and they were giving the dolphin hunters such a fight!  Even a couple of times, they got away only to be chased back down by the bangers, so heartbreaking to see.  It took the hunters a while to get the animals finally netted into the Cove area.

The sickly familiar sight of the dolphins being pushed under the tarps to their fate never gets easier to watch, and we could see at least one juvenile within this pod – this was the saddest thing to see.  While watching and taking footage, a skiff came out from under the tarps with two men on it with what looked like a body or a couple of bodies underneath more tarps going back to the open ocean.  The skiff disappeared, and we suspect that the dolphin hunters had one or possibly two juveniles under the tarps dead or alive, I cannot confirm, but they were taken to the open ocean.  Why?

Two other captives were shortly after taken away to the Taiji Harbor pens where they will be trained to a life of captivity.  Slaves for entertainment, where the poor Risso’s will be trained in pain to gain money for these people.

The rest were slaughtered.

It’s been a draining first day being back here, but not as draining for the two captives that in the pens now in Taiji Harbor.  My thoughts are with them while I write this, and I will check to see them in the morning.

It never gets easier watching these tragedies that happen here.  But I am proud to be volunteering for Save Japan Dolphins, and I am hoping for more peaceful days for our ocean friends for the remainder of my time here.  I am updating the Save Japan Dolphins Cove Monitors’ Facebook page frequently with updates and pictures of events as they happen here, so if you haven’t already, please “Like” this page and share.

For the dolphins!

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About Ric O'Barry

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Ric O’Barry, Dolphin Project Founder & Director has worked on both sides of the captive dolphin issue, making him an invaluable asset in the efforts to end exploitation. He worked for 10 years within the dolphin captivity industry, and has spent the past 40 working against it.

In the 1960s, O’Barry was employed by the Miami Seaquarium, where he captured and trained dolphins, including the five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV-series of the same name. He also trained Hugo, the first orca kept in captivity east of the Mississippi. When Kathy, the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms, O’Barry realized that capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong.

From that moment on, O’Barry knew what he must do with his life. On the first Earth Day, 1970, he launched a searing campaign against the multi-billion dollar dolphin captivity industry and has been going at it ever since.

Over the past 40 years, Ric O’Barry has rescued and rehabilitated dolphins in many countries around the world, including Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, the Bahamas Islands and the United States. He is a leading voice in the fight to end brutal dolphin hunts in Japan, the Solomon Islands, the Faroe Islands, and wherever else they occur.

O’Barry has been recognized by many national and international entities for his dedicated efforts, such as being voted Huffington Post’s 2010 Most Influential Green Game Changer, and being listed on O Magazine’s 2010 Power List – Men We Admire for his “Power of Passion.” O’Barry received an Environmental Achievement Award, presented by the United States Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program. He has done countless interviews with such prestigious news programs as Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper 360, the Mike Huckabee Show, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

His book Behind the Dolphin Smile was published in 1989; a second book, To Free A Dolphin was published in September 2000. Both of them are about his work and dedication. He is the star of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove and the Animal Planet television series Blood Dolphin$.

Author: Ric O'Barry
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