Being here in Taiji, Japan is incredibly surreal for me. To stand on the beach at the cove is a feeling I am not even sure I can put into words. This post is my first in a very long time. I have been planning this trip for months now and the fundraising and planning kept me very busy. Nevertheless, here I am in Japan. I am sitting in my hotel trying to work through what I have experienced since my arrival on January 16th. Travel to Japan was long but actually pleasant because I traveled here with a good friend and fellow SSCS On-Shore Volunteer. The people I have met in the last couple of days are extraordinary. They are from various countries around the world and we all speak in our own accent and language, but our reason for being here is the same.
I should mention that before this trip, I had NEVER seen a dolphin in real life. I have only ever seen them in books, movies, online and on tv. The first and only dolphins I’ve seen are either suffering a life in captivity here in Japan or were brutally killed in front of me this week. I think this is a clear message that you do not need marine parks and captivity in order to appreciate a species and want to save its future.
Today was by far one of the worst days of my life. It was only my second day of watching the fishermen leave on their boats to hunt mercilessly for dolphins, but it will be a day that I never forget. A beautiful pod of Bottlenose dolphins was driven into the cove in Taiji, Japan. Their lives were destroyed one by one by people whose vile actions are something I will never understand. I stood and witnessed as these 38 amazing, innocent animals were driven by a wall of sound into the deadly nets.
I have constantly kept up with the events happening in Taiji. I have seen The Cove at least a dozen times with friends and family as I try to educate as many people as possible. The images, the articles, the videos, none of it prepared me for witnessing a capture and slaughter with my own eyes. The trainers are some of the most baffling and disturbing people on earth. They spend every single day working with dolphins and claiming to “love” them. It only took a few minutes for them to arrive in the boats once they got word that Bottlenose dolphins had been driven into the cove. They stood up in the boat and acted excited as they looked over the day’s catch. The trainers work side by side with the fishermen who will slaughter any dolphin not purchased by them. Together, the trainers and the fishermen are some of the most horrible and sadistic people I have ever seen. One by one dolphins were violently handled and put into painful slings and hauled away from their family. You can hear the trainers yelling as they try to wrangle the frightened juveniles away from their mothers. These people do not love dolphins. They love the money the dolphins bring to them. The trainers selected 13 dolphins to suffer a life in captivity.
It was painfully clear when the slaughter began underneath the tarps. The thrashing and tail slapping that occurred is a sound that will forever live in my mind. It was agonizing to stand there and know that those animals were being brutally and violently killed. We stood in silence listening as the dolphins fought and struggled until after several minutes the thrashing ended. Again, this is a sound I will hear in mind as long as I live. There is no way to forget it. After it ended the last and thirteenth victim taken into a life of captivity was hauled away on a sling. This means that dolphin watched and listened to its entire family get murdered BEFORE being hauled away from their dead bodies. The trauma that dolphin endured makes my heart ache.
Taiji is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It is incredible that such a horrible and disgusting thing can take place here. I am glad that 17 Cove Guardians were here today to witness the last moments of this Bottlenose family. Together we (and past and future CGs) are helping spread the word about this dark secret. This is not a proud tradition or cultural right. If it were there would be no tarps hiding the slaughter as it happens. There would be no police monitoring every move the activists make. They want to hide everything that is going on in Taiji. If it is a tradition then what are you so ashamed of? Why wouldn’t you want the world to see what you are doing?
Taiji has changed me in so many ways and my time here has only just begun. To those who helped me get here, thank you so much. To the dolphins, I am so sorry for what is happening to you. We have polluted your home, stolen your food source, and now certain people in this world make a living off your pain and suffering.
RIP to the 24 beautiful souls that left our world today, but also to the 13 lives that will now suffer in the world of captivity, my thoughts and heart are always with you.
Thank you for reading,