Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ric In Egypt to Help Dolphins Exported from Taiji

By Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

I am in Hurghada, Egypt, where four dolphins from Taiji were sent to populate a new oceanarium being built here. Unfortunately, five more dolphins have been ordered from Taiji. These dolphins are still in Taiji, and there is a chance that we can stop the export.

Ric in Egypt.
Photography by Kate Tomlinson, Sept. 2010.

The four dolphins here in the desert are in depressing conditions. They are in a small backyard swimming pool. We need to get them out of there, but it is not easy. A local organization HEPCA, that opposes all dolphinariums in Egypt, is working to block the opening of the new facility and to stop the import of wild dolphins from Taiji.

You can see a short video clip from HEPCA on this issue in Egypt in this Youtube video:

Ric checking out new excavation for a dolphin pool in Egypt.
Photography by Kate Tomlinson, Sept. 2010.

I am here to help. I have meetings with many local government officials to urge them to write to the Mayor of Taiji to stop the imports of dolphins.

More details to follow.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Divers Attempt to Free Captive Dolphins in Taiji

By Ric O’Barry
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

An organization called “The Black Fish”, based in Germany, is claiming responsibility for cutting nets in six holding pens in Taiji harbor, attempting to free the captive dolphins being held for aquariums. Local Shingu police claim the cuts in the nets were too small for any dolphins to actually escape.

We are working to verify the situation. The Japan Fisheries Agency will certainly try to portray the dolphin killers as sympathetic characters being harassed and violated by “extremist” Westerners.

We have no connection to “The Black Fish”, and we intend to continue our job of reaching the Japanese public with the message that the dolphin killing and related captures must stop. Based on this incident, it is likely that the situation in Taiji will get more dangerous.

Hans Peter Roth with our Save Japan Dolphins Team at the Cove in Taiji, Sept. 27, 2010.

Meanwhile our Save Japan Dolphins team member Hans Peter Roth reports from Taiji that due to stormy weather, no dolphin hunts have taken place for the past week. For now, the infamous Cove remains free of any dolphins. But we cannot depend on the weather, or rare incidents of cutting nets, to keep the Cove empty of dolphins for good.

That is up to you and me and our continuing efforts in Japan. We won’t quit until we succeed.

Hans Peter Roth at the Cove in Taiji, Sept. 27, 2010.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Defiance In Japan -- first dolphin kill at Taiji

by Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

It’s with a heavy heart that I write today’s post. Despite all our efforts and despite the worldwide condemnation of the cruel dolphin slaughter, the Japanese government remains defiant and has allowed the first dolphin kill of this season at Taiji.

This defies all logic, both because of the brutal inhumane abuse of dolphins and because it is now proved that the dolphin meat is poison -- containing dangerous levels of mercury.

Throughout the first month of the season several captures have taken place with select dolphins retained for export to zoos and aquariums. The rest of the pod were released back into the wild. However, a few days ago one group of 15 Risso's dolphins was brutally killed and taken to the slaughterhouse.

I can't tell you how angry this makes me. And I know it makes you angry, too. Many of you will be frustrated, but I don’t want you to lose hope. I also am more convinced than ever that our campaign to generate worldwide pressure for an end to the slaughter is right and must succeed.

We must be vigilant and turn up the heat. The Japan government's defiance must not be allowed to stand.

Change does not happen overnight, and we have only just started to get the word out to the Japanese people.

We are working to keep people on the ground in Taiji to monitor the Cove and report back to the world. Take a look at this video done by one of our dedicated volunteers, Leilani Münter:

We are also ramping up efforts with our Japanese distributor to get thousands of copies of the Japanese version of the movie The Cove into the hands of the Japanese public so that they can build pressure internally.

Recently several Japanese people who have seen The Cove or heard about our work have begun coming to Taiji for the first time ever – our Save Japan Dolphins Team members there have been talking with them. They want to understand just what is happening there, and this is a very positive step. The Japanese people themselves can end the slaughter, especially if the Japan government can no longer hide the killing from them.

One of our volunteers in Tokyo recently interviewed several people about The Cove and the dolphin slaughter – she found all of them had now heard about the issue, quite a change from just a few months ago when nobody knew anything about the dolphin hunts.

US President Barack Obama is going to Japan in November. We are moving quickly to get him and his administration to urge attention to this matter. We'll provide more details on this in the days ahead.

If you can donate to help this work continue, it is most appreciated. Go to:

Check out our blog for more details of the Save Japan Dolphin Day activities on October 14th and other updates.

Thanks for your help and continued effort to make the waters safe for dolphins.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Leilani Münter’s Youtube Japan Dolphins Trip

By Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

One of the participants in our recent week of great events in Tokyo was Leilani Münter. Leilani is part Japanese, part German, and one of our most enthusiastic and delightful volunteers. She also races NASCAR, using only green companies as sponsors, and is involved in developing a new TV series.

Leilani and her husband, Craig (who we learned is called “Kiwi” for his New Zealand homeland), have put together a great Youtube slide show about their experiences in Tokyo and Taiji with Save Japan Dolphins. She used a new song, “Whales Can Sing”, by Duncan Walsh and the Watanabes, a music group based in Japan who is also helping us out. Check out this great show:

You can watch Leilani race her car (and spot our Save Japan Dolphins logo on her car and her racing suit) in the US at the Kansas Speedway on the SPEED Channel on Sept 30 at 4pm EST. She will be driving the #59 Operation Free racecar in the ARCA race (it will be the only car with decals of wind turbines and solar panels on it!).

And she will be, by the way, the only woman in that race.

We met many wonderful people from around the world during these events in Japan, and we will be introducing more of them to you in future Blogs. We also hope many of you will join us for upcoming events.

Ric O’Barry flanked by Leilani Münter and Craig “Kiwi” Davidson in Tokyo.
Photo by Mark J. Palmer.

For more on Leilani, go to:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Join Us for the Dolphins on October 14th!

By Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

This is a special invitation for you to join our worldwide Save Japan Dolphins Day rallies around the world in front of Embassies and Consulates of the government of Japan.

When: Thursday, October 14th, Noon to 2 PM.

Where: In front of Embassies and Consulates of the Government of Japan around the world.

Go to this link to find the nearest rally, or start one of your own. E-mail the contact person to get information about the event and to see how you can help:

Here are the locations of International Japanese Embassies & Consulates:

If you would like to host a rally in your city, contact:

Shelby Proie,

What: Save Japan Dolphins Day

A worldwide peaceful and lawful protest of the annual dolphin slaughter in Japan, as depicted in the Academy Award winning documentary The Cove and the Animal Planet series Blood Dolphins. The Japanese government issues 23,000 permits annually to coastal communities to kill dolphins of several species. A few are sold, at great profit, to aquariums and swim-with-dolphins programs around the world. The captive dolphin industry subsidizes the slaughter. The majority of the pod is then slaughtered for meat. But the meat is contaminated with outrageous amounts of mercury and other pollutants, exceeding the Japanese government’s own health limits. This is a human rights issue as much as an animal welfare issue.

Demonstrations will be going on throughout the world in front of Japanese embassies and consulates on October 14th. Please join your fellow environmentalists and animal activists in protesting the hunts and urging Japan to switch to more sustainable and benign methods of profit, such as eco-tourism and dolphin-watching cruises (ironically becoming more popular in Japan every year).

Please join us in protesting the dolphin slaughter.

Please pass this information on to your own network of friends and relatives. Spread the word!

For more information on the issue, you can go to our website:

Thanks for coming out and supporting Save Japan Dolphins Day!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Latest from Taiji: More Dolphins Released

By Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

Hans Peter Roth and Kyoko Tanaka, members of our Save Japan Dolphins Team from, respectively, Switzerland and Japan, are in Taiji now, checking the activity in the infamous Cove.

Hans Peter Roth at the Cove in Taiji.
Photo by Kyoko Tanaka, Sept. 12, 2010.

Three days ago, they watched as a pod of nine Risso’s dolphins were herded into the Cove. Once again, five were kept for captivity purposes and transferred to pens at the Taiji Whale Museum, and four were released back. The “no-kill” policy we have seen so far this season, since Sept. 1st, has held. But will it continue to hold?

Hans Peter reports:

“There is no Sunday holiday for dolphin hunters. If the weather is right and the sea is calm, out they go in their thirteen boats for the hunt. Just like yesterday, the 12th of September. Banging on pipes they thrust into the water, they drove about fifty-to-sixty bottlenose dolphins into the Cove. This is by far the largest catch of dolphins this season up to now. So far, at least a dozen or more dolphins have been pulled from their families to be put in captivity.

“Kyoko and I have been on location to document and count. So have other organizations, and so have the police to watch over things. (Ric talked with the police via my computer on Skype from Miami: He offered to show them his passport, which got a laugh from the police.)

Police at the Cove in Taiji.
Photo by Hans Peter Roth, Sept. 13, 2010.

“Yesterday, we were also joined by a new group of the ultra-nationalists in their black cars, so things are tense with all the crowd on the beach watching the dolphin trainers and the dolphin killers at work. The nationalists have been blasting us with their loudspeakers, complaining about us (like “Americans should apologize for Hiroshima and Nagasaki” and claims “The Cove” movie is “anti-Japanese”). But the police presence should be enough to avoid problems – they are as always very professional and fair. They escorted us to our rental car when we temporarily left to re-charge batteries.”

Bottlenose dolphins behind nets in the Cove at Taiji. About 15 were kept for captivity; the rest were released and herded back to sea.
Photo by Kyoko Tanaka, September 12, 2010.

Late on Monday afternoon, Hans Peter and Kyoko reported that the remaining dolphins in the pod, held since Sunday, were finally released back into the wild. About fifteen of their family members – mostly young females – will spend the rest of their lives in small aquariums and/or swim-with-dolphins programs.

Hans Peter reports:

“I returned alone to the cove about 2 pm. Things had completely quieted down. The nationalists had gone. But still five police cars were parked there. I had come not a moment too soon. Fishermen were just about to open the last, outermost net that had sealed off the Cove, as I unpacked the camera. Six hunting boats took position outside the cove. At first the bottlenose dolphins did not realize that they were free. Then they did and started taking off slowly, then ever faster. The hunting boats started driving them out to sea in a sort of reverse drive hunt, but not as violently as they had driven them in the day before. In the end the dolphins were just literally flying towards the open ocean, thrashing up a lot of white water. This could be seen for miles before they disappeared towards the horizon.“

The “no-kill” policy continues to be in effect in Taiji.

You can help by signing our online petitions, and getting your friends and family to sign as well. We are already at 1.8 million signatures and counting. If you are on Facebook, you can sign:

For those who have trouble signing on Facebook, we have another petition at:

Thanks to all of you for your support of our Campaign. Your donations help us field people like Kyoko and Hans Peter at the Cove to report to us the status of the dolphin hunts. We are also planning our next rounds of events and media activities to spread the truth in Japan about the dolphin hunts.

I’ll be going back to Japan soon, as will other members of our Save Japan Dolphins Team, so stay tuned here to find out the latest on our continuing efforts to end the dolphin slaughter.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Update from Taiji and a Talk to the Media in Tokyo

By Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

According to our volunteers in Taiji, on Sunday the dolphin drive boats went out and found ten bottlenose dolphins, which were herded into the Bay near Taiji. One major change from previous trips (an alternative which some of our people observed towards the end of last year’s season in March 2010): There is a floating dock with sea pens in the middle of the Bay, well away from the Cove depicted in the documentary. It appears that the fishermen, in order to elude hidden cameras, are now using this floating dock for dolphins.

On Monday morning, reportedly five dolphins were kept for captivity and the remaining five were released back into freedom, a partial victory for us as the “no kill” policy appears to remain in effect.

But as we saw last year, this “no kill” policy is unlikely to remain in place. We must continue our efforts to keep the pressure on the dolphin killers and the Japanese government to end the slaughters and all of the dolphin captures once and for all.

A Good Showing at the FCCJ:

I was made an honorary member of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan when I was in Tokyo last year. So on Monday, I addressed a luncheon there of foreign and Japanese correspondents about the dolphin slaughter and our efforts last week, and gave them a peek at the new Animal Planet TV series, “Blood Dolphins”, produced and directed by my son, Lincoln O’Barry.

I was pleased by the reaction in the Japanese media. Stories about my talk were accurate and gave me a good forum for talking to the Japanese people about the slaughter. There were tough questions, but apparently the Japanese media liked my responses. The “confrontation” approach of “Us vs. Them” of previous media stories was gone.

Ric O’Barry addresses the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan on Sept. 6th.
Photo by Miyuki Takamatsu.

Here is a good example in English on the “Japan Today” website.

This is why I have avoided confronting the Japanese dolphin killers or breaking Japanese laws. It is easy to break such laws, but doing so damages your credibility beyond repair among mainstream Japanese. I have worked hard to get the Japanese media to understand that I am not condemning the Japanese people nor Japan’s culture. I am only condemning the slaughter of dolphins, and I believe I have positive alternatives, such as ecotourism, to offer the people of Taiji and other communities in Japan that still slaughter dolphins.

A number of our volunteers this past week in Tokyo, for example, went down to the coastal village of Futo and went dolphin-watching with Mr. Ishi, a former dolphin hunter who now runs an ecotourism business. Futo fishermen used to slaughter thousands of dolphins, but have not caught any since 2004. Mr. Ishi has shown the way for dolphin killers to become dolphin lovers, without anywhere near the labor required to herd and slaughter the mammals.

I hope the Japanese media is beginning to “get it” – Japanese local communities can benefit far more from eco-tourism, sustainable fishing practices, and being open to foreign visitors than they can from running secretive dolphin-killing ventures. And Japan can avoid another Minamata-style disaster with mercury poisoning if it stops the sale of contaminated dolphin meat.

Phone Calls Jam Japan Embassy Lines:

Last week, while I was leading our volunteers and talking to the Japanese media about the dolphin hunts and presenting 1.7 million signatures to the US Embassy in Tokyo, our Save Japan Dolphins Team launched an online campaign for our Facebook supporters, urging them to call the Japanese Embassy in Washington DC and other countries.

They flooded the US Embassy and also called Embassies and Consulates in New York, Seattle, Ottawa, London, Nashville and Denmark, and others I'm sure. Our team stressed that they be polite and respectful, and some reported that they had nice conversations - at least one person at a Japanese Embassy had no idea of the hunts and was appalled to hear about it!

This is the kind of combined outside pressure and inside pressure that will, together, end the dolphin hunts in Japan. No government can long withstand this level of opposition to their basic policies that hurt their own people. We can end this dolphin slaughter by pledging to remain active until it stops and never give up.

Ric’s autograph.
Photo by Miyuki Takamatsu.

My thanks and the thanks of our whole Save Japan Dolphins Team to all those who called the Embassies and Consulates. If you have not done so yet, I urge you to do so now and politely ask them to end the dolphin hunts in Japan.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Earth Island Volunteers in Taiji -- Dolphins Released; None Slaughtered!

by Ric O'Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

We have several small, but I think, significant victories today to report.

I chose not to go to Taiji this trip in order not to inflame an intense situation and give the Japan media an excuse to focus on the controversy rather than the true issues. The first part of our mission was to make the world and especially the Japanese people aware that the annual dolphin slaughter has begun once again. After all, the media is based here in Tokyo, not in Taiji. It is very difficult to get the media, especially Japanese media, to travel to the remote, isolated location of Wakayama Prefecture, about a 7-hour train ride from Tokyo.

Ric at a Shinto Shrine near Tokyo.
Photo (c) Mark J. Palmer

Our strategy has proven extremely successful, as our efforts in Tokyo have been featured on international wire services. Every major media outlet in Japan covered our presentation of 1.7 million signatures to the US Embassy on Thursday. Just as important, the Japanese media reported our work as respectful of the Japanese people, building the foundations for our Campaign's success. In the past, they have emphasized confrontation rather than our very careful approach to the issues. Our fight is not with the people of Japan. We have turned up the heat in Japan and turned another corner in getting positive media coverage, thwarting the Japan Fisheries Agency's efforts to paint us as the enemy.

Now, millions of people in Japan are hearing, most for the first time, about the dolphin slaughter, precisely what the Japan Fisheries Agency has successfully covered up in this country for decades. (But we are still having trouble conveying the dangers of mercury poisoning, which is a major part of our Save Japan Dolphins Campaign opposing the dolphin killing in Japan. So far, the media in Japan has done little to convey this important information to Japanese consumers.)

Impromptu demonstration to Save Japan Dolphins at Shibuya Station, Tokyo.
Photo (c) Mark J. Palmer

If enough people around the world and in Japan learn about this barbaric and anachronistic dolphin slaughter, we can stop it once and for all.

Canned whale meat in our hotel vending machine in Tokyo.
Photo(c) Mark J. Palmer

But, despite our Tokyo focus, we have not neglected the dolphins in Taiji. On Sept. 1st, the first day of the hunt season, the dolphin drive boats went out, but returned without any dolphins. On Sept. 2nd, though, the fishermen herded 20 dolphins into Taiji. It looked like another tragedy was unfolding.

Fourteen of our volunteers here with us in Tokyo went down to Taiji, and are still there on the ground, watching and walking around town. The decision was their's to go -- we did not encourage them and informed them of the dangers and advised them of their best steps. We will have other watchers down in Taiji during the seven-month hunt season this year.

Once our volunteers arrived on the afternoon of Sept. 3rd, Taiji was oddly like a ghost town. At the notorious Cove, several of our volunteers were questioned by police who showed up in minutes. But, as usual, the police were very professional and, once questions were answered and they warned against breaking any laws, they left our volunteers alone. Several volunteers asked if they could go up to Tsunami Park, which overlooks the killing Cove from the movie. At first the police said no, but finally agreed to let them go. Our volunteers, up on the overlook of the killing Cove, saw no dolphins nor was there any blood around. Several friends arrived a bit later and reported the same thing -- polite police, no dolphin killers, and no dolphins.

What happened to the dolphins caught the day before?

We learned later that apparently our Campaign and the intense media scrutiny was too much. Several dolphins were kept by the fishermen and the Taiji Whale Museum for captive purposes. They will be condemned to a life of imprisonment away from their families. But the fishermen released the majority of the dolphins on Sept. 3rd.

There was no dolphin slaughter, and no blood was shed in the Cove.

The drive boats went out this morning, but again came back without any dolphins.

If you wil recall, the Taiji fishermen did the same thing last year in the two months or so of the dolphin-hunting season. Our Save Japan Dolphins Team were in Taiji, and the fishermen caught a large number of bottlenose dolphins and then released them, after keeping several for captivity.

Now, we know that last year the fishermen eventually returned to killing and butchering other species, such as pilot whales, Risso's dolphins, false killer whales, and others, including some bottlenose dolphins. We believe our Campaign pressure reduced the total number of dolphins killed in the Cove that year, but we are not sure. The kill statistics are held closely by the Japanese Fisheries Agency, which has so far refused to release them to our Japanese partners. But the killing still continued last year, and we believe the killing will continue again this season, likely once the interest of the media dies down.

We also had a nice little victory for whales yesterday. One of our volunteers, Craig Davidson (whom we all call "Kiwi" from New Zealand and husband of the lovely NASCAR driver Leilani Munter), found canned whale meat for sale in the vending machines in our hotel lobby. On Thursday night, we bought two cans and gave them to Boyd Harnell, a reporter with "The Japan Times", to have them tested. Then on Friday morning, Mark Berman of our Save Japan Dolphins Team went to the hotel management to tell them about the whale meat, complain about its presence, and that it was a potential problem if American visitors tried to bring some back to the US (a violation of the US Endangered Species Act). A bit to our surprise, the hotel management immediately took out all the remaining cans of whale meat in the machine and said they would talk to the vendor who owned the machine. Hopefully, the meat will be rejected in the future by the hotel! One of our volunteers here in Japan will be checking back periodically to make sure the whale meat stays out.

It is a small step, but shows that individuals can have an impact, even in whale-eating Japan!

My deepest thanks to all our volunteers, including those who went down to Taiji under difficult and potentially dangerous conditions. They are a brave bunch, and I love them all.

And thanks again to all our donors who made this trip possible. You have really helped with these crucial next steps in our Campaign. We have a couple of small victories here in Japan -- we hope you share our joy in them, and that you are with us in seeing this Campaign through to the end.

You can help: Click Here to Donate

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Major Media Coverage of 1.7 Million Signatures in Tokyo!

by Ric O'Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

Today was our big day to make a splash in the media in Tokyo about protecting dolphins. And we succeeded.

We have kept our presence fairly quiet up until yesterday, Sept. 1st, the start of the bloody dolphin hunting season. We needed to keep a low profile in order to avoid pulling out the extreme nationalist groups in protest. While the threat of violence is very low here in Tokyo, the major problem would be us all getting kicked out of our hotel. The nationalist groups make a lot of noise with bullhorns and trucks with loudspeakers, and they basically make life unlivable for Japanese people. They could cause a lot of grief to our hotel, and the hotel would in turn blame us. (Indeed, we already have run into several problems with our hotel. For example, we had planned on having interviews with media in my room, but that was canceled when the hotel staff found out what we were doing. Now I have to go to TV studios or do press interviews in coffee shops around the area, rather than stay in my hotel)

So today, we began by bringing all our international volunteers to a plaza near the US Embassy. The Japanese police, charged with protecting the Embassy, would not let us get too close with our crowd, but we had TV cameras and print journalists from all the major Tokyo media outlets, so our message went out nationally today to the people of Japan. Our volunteers from around the world, holding flags representing the 151 countries from which we garnered 1.7 million signatures on our online petitions, were lined up. Several held strands of origami dolphins prepared by artist Peggy Oki, and we also had several inflated dolphin balloons for the cameras. I unfurled our long petition -- about 15 feet long -- for the cameras.

I told the dozens of reporters that we were here to ask the Obama Administration to help end the killing of dolphins. The Obama folks can talk to their counterparts in the Japanese government, telling them just how damaging the dolphin hunt is. I urged President Obama, when he comes to Japan in November, to talk to the new Japanese Prime Minister about dolphins and mercury. The government of Japan must take care of its natural biological heritage as well as the health of its people.

(The government in Japan is in flux now with elections coming in two short weeks. For this reason, our partner organizations in Japan advised us to hold off trying to present our petition to the Japanese Ministry of Health (which handles issues of food contamination) and the Ministry of Fisheries. We will go to them when the time is right, and we will have many more signers on our petitions by then.)

I was then escorted by the Tokyo Police, with media following along across the street, up to the US Embassy, along with volunteers Alyson Richards and Melissa Carbonne (who work with Hollywood celebrities in support of environmental issues), NASCAR driver Leilani Munter (who only accepts green sponsors for her winning race cars), and my colleague from Earth Island, Mark J. Palmer, with his ever-present camera.

With me went our beautiful "nobori" (a traditional Japanese banner) with dolphins and the name of our campaign in Japanese. It really stood out. Earlier we had asked supporters to help us come to Japan and get their name printed on the nobori so they could come with me in spirit. For all of you who donated, I thank you for your support and wanted you to know that your names went with me up to the gates of the US Embassy in Tokyo. Someday, hopefully soon, your names will go with me to Japan in celebration of the end of the dolphin hunts.

In front of the gates of the embassy, I met Mr. Bruce Howard, Counselor for Science, Environment and Health, representing the American Ambassador. He accepted our petition, as I urged him to see that it gets to the President. (We plan to follow up with a similar ceremony in Washington DC, to present the petitions to the White House and the Japan Embassy.)

Our three volunteers each then talked with Mr. Howard. telling him their own story of why they had come half-way around the world to be here with me in Tokyo. We are here to protect the lives of dolphins and to protect the lives of the people of Japan from mercury poisoning.

Afterwards, I was whisked away by a cab to do an hour interview with CBS News.

Was it worth it? I think it was. We educated millions of Japanese people who read the papers and watch the television news. With "The Cove" still showing in theaters in Japan, more and more people are learning the truth about the dolphin hunts.

There's more. We just heard from our Japanese friends that the extreme nationalist groups, that had been building up to confront us in Taiji this year and who almost blocked "The Cove" movie from being screened in Japan, have announced on their web page that they will no longer actively protest "The Cove" or Ric O'Barry in order to focus on other priorities in Japan.

And while the dolphin hunters of Taiji failed to find any dolphins yesterday, they did reportedly find 20 bottlenose dolphins offshore and herded them into the Cove this morning. But we further heard that, while they kept several (as many as ten?) for the aquarium trade, they released the rest as they did last year. None were butchered for meat. We are working to confirm this claim.

We of course do not want to get our hopes too high -- we do expect dolphins and small whales to be butchered in the Cove, and the process of chasing and netting-in the dolphins is extremely damaging to dolphins (they die of capture stress and get entangled in the nets and drown), the news that once again the dolphin hunters decided, in the glare of publicity, to release some dolphins is a good sign for us.

But we cannot give up. This kind of victory is fleeting, and we will not rest until the killing stops for good.

Again, my thanks to all our volunteers who traveled here to be with me on behalf of the dolphins. Thanks especially to Leilani, Alyson and Melissa, who spoke to the US Embassy from their hearts today on behalf of dolphins. We cannot ignore their message -- 1.7 million people, so far, have supported their message. Our campaign to Save Japan Dolphins will only grow and grow, and we will stop the killing, that I guarantee.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our Japanese Partners' Heartfelt Support for Dolphins

by Ric O'Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

We know what is bad about the dolphin killing going on in Japan. But today, we heard a lot about the good side. Here in Tokyo with our Save Japan Dolphins Team and 70 volunteers from the US, England, Hong Kong, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland, Japan, and Australia, we met this evening with our partners in Japan. And we were overwhelmed by their love of dolphins and their concern for protection of dolphins.

Our volunteers are here to represent the 1.7 million people around the world, including from Japan, who have signed our online petitions to save the dolphins. It is a message we heard loud and clear in Tokyo.

One of our keynote speakers was my friend and colleague, Masato Sakano of Circlet, Japan's leading film expert on dolphins and whales. He was also a key production person on our "Blood Dolphin$" TV series shoot in Japan. He showed us some beautiful underwater footage of swimming with wild dolphins in Japan's waters, just a short distance from Tokyo. He encouraged us all to go dolphin-watching while we are here in Japan. Masato-san said, "When we capture dolphins, we deprive them of two important things. One is their family. The other is their sense of hearing." I could not have said it better myself. We owe a great deal to the people of Japan like Masato, who treasure dolphins and whales as much as we do. He has worked hard for many years under very difficult conditions to document and publicize the plight of dolphins here.

Also attending was my new friend Mr. Kunio Suzuki, who is a leader of the conservative movement in Japan. He was one of the first people in Japan to speak out against those who criticized "The Cove" movie without first seeing it. He spoke to us tonight about Japanese culture -- if killing dolphins in Taiji is part of Japanese culture, how come he knew nothing about it? He thanked me and "The Cove" for bringing this important issue to the attention of the people of Japan. I responded by stating that if Mr. Suzuki and I can reach common ground on this issue, then there is truly hope for the dolphins.

Today was the first day of the dolphin hunting season in Taiji. We understand the boats went out, but were unable to see any dolphins to drive into the Cove. Over the next six months, the dolphin hunts may go on, but we will not rest -- Japanese and Westerners alike -- until the dolphin hunts end once and for all.

Thank you, one and all, for being a part of this effort. Special thanks to our many supporters who left behind their lives, their loved ones, and spent their own money to join me in Tokyo on behalf of the dolphins. They are very special people!