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.

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