Arrival

0420: Why am I sleeping on the floor and where the hell am I?

It took a few moments to realize that Just on 3 hours ago I had arrived in Taiji after a 9 hour plus drive through rain and horrible traffic. Due to a typhoon on Tuesday, the trains were still not running to where I needed to go, so driving seemed the best option. On the eve of a public holiday. Hmmm

Anyhow, got my stuff together, water bottle, cameras, binoculars, snacks and headed into KiiKatsuura to meet the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian team leader for 0500. Rosie is a passionate South African who, after spending time in Antarctica and Namibia has put her hand up to lead the Cove Guardians for a significant amount of the 7 month Dolphin slaughter season.

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Taiji harbor at dawn

Each morning before sunrise, Rosie heads to the waterfront to see what the hunters are up to, to count the boats that go out to sea and to bear witness to this cruel and heartless act. From her vantage point she can see almost forever, but it is not far enough to follow the boats and as they cross the horizon at various headings, the waiting starts. The ideal end to the morning is to see the boats return over the horizon and head back to port in ones and twos. That means that they are not herding and driving a pod of wild dolphins into the capture and killing coves. As luck had it, that was what were able to watch today, as all the ‘banger boats’ came in individually and the harpoon vessel which has been accompanying them came home empty handed.

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harpoon vessel. This thing is just plain evil

The term banger boats comes from the hunters method of herding the dolphin pods by banging on steel poles which are lowered into the water. With the boats in formation, the noise created by the steel poles becomes a wall of sound which the dolphins run away from. Unfortunately the hunters direct the wall to force them to run to the cove.

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Banger boats departing Taiji

I will go into more detail on what happens once the Dolphins are in the cove in a future post. It is not for the faint of heart. I am hoping my description will be second-hand, and there will be no slaughter while I am here.

Monday night, my son Jack asked if he could donate his pocket money to Sea Shepherd to help. Man, kids can make you so proud sometimes. I explained to him that he was doing something far better than donating his pocket money. By understanding the importance of this, and supporting me, rather than being upset that I would be away for a few weekends over the coming months he was donating his Dad to Sea Shepherd, which would be far more important than the few dollars he would be able to put to the cause. He hadn’t complained once about me going away, I did sit down with him and make sure that he was ok with me being away. He already misses a lot of me due to work commitments, and we both treasure our time together. Together we will try to bring awareness to the Japanese people of the atrocities being perpetrated upon Dolphins and Whales.

After the boats came in, we spent some time checking up on some of the captive animals around Taiji. This was very sad, to see broken spirits in such graceful bodies. They really are their own worst enemies.. They are so beautiful to watch, and that facial shape that looks like a smile even under the greatest duress,
.. It is easy to see how people can look past the quality of life and just see a beautiful animal.

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Captive dolphin in Taiji. This guy hardly moves all day and is obviously unwell. However, nobody at the dolphin resort will admit it, even though they have had to tube feed him (or her?)

Dolphins are intensely Intelligent, family oriented beings. They really are not so much different than us. I still believe in the line from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy… Humans think that they are the smartest animals on earth because they have built so many buildings and developed the land, while dolphins just play around in the ocean all day – Dolphins know they are the most intelligent, for exactly the same reason.

Keeping these animals in captivity is just plain wrong. For me, one of the biggest tragedies is the admission that not so long ago, I would have willingly handed over the money to swim with these poor animals. And I would have enjoyed it.

Please look in your heart and take the pledge as I have to not support this industry.

Ps – I have always been proud of the time I spent working at sea world on the Gold Coast… Until now.

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