Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From Leilani: Up Close at the Slaughterhouse in Taiji

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

See Leilani’s YouTube video and stills:

Leilani Münter, race car driver and volunteer for the dolphins, called me yesterday. She is in Taiji with a camera crew, checking out the Cove in Taiji as well as promoting eco-tourism in Japan. She is my personal representative for the dolphins at the Cove this week.

By helping the local economy, we can help end the slaughter of dolphins – no one will want to visit Taiji if dolphins continue to be subject to the drive fishery. Taiji can be notorious for its dolphin slaughter, or it can be world renowned for the protection of dolphins and their ocean environment. It should be an easy choice.

I spoke with Leilani via Skype on camera. We discussed the current status of the Cove and what Leilani was planning to do. We discussed the dolphins – the Taiji Four -- sent from Taiji to Egypt, and the horrible conditions under which they were kept there. I urged Leilani to go to the Taiji Whale Museum (which brokers the wild-caught dolphins) with her laptop to show the Museum the conditions under which these dolphins are now languishing, and how shameful the leadership of the Taiji Whale Museum should feel about being a party to this inhumane action. No self-respecting animal organization would ever let these kinds of conditions prevail, yet they are typical for Taiji’s dolphins!

The Japan Times quoted the Taiji Whale Museum’s Hiromitsu Nambu, who arranges exports of live dolphins from Taiji: "Dolphins in Taiji are popular around the world because they are smart, and I personally think they have cute faces."

The Taiji Four dolphins were sold to Egypt for $300,000 each! And they wound up in a filthy swimming pool that came close to killing them in Hurghada. For more on the story, go to:

Did I mention that Leilani is fearless? On Monday, the fishermen of Taiji herded a small pod of Risso’s dolphins into the Cove. They were slaughtered the next morning. Leilani braved the local slaughterhouse in Taiji to get some remarkable photos of these poor Risso’s dolphins. Let her tell the story:

“I just got close up photos of them cutting up the dolphins inside the slaughterhouse,” Leilani reports. “They left a door slightly open, and I stuck my camera under it. One of the fishermen eventually spotted me from the grocery store across the street and shut me down, but I got them cutting off the dolphins’ fins and chopping up the torsos. Was one of the hardest things I have ever seen.”

See Leilani’s YouTube video and stills:

“It was absolutely horrific; I will never be the same,” Leilani concluded.

Leilani is planning on being in Taiji for the rest of the week. You can follow her blog on her website:

We will be posting her reports here, too.

Leilani is working to make a difference in the world. We can all help her and help the dolphins. Not everyone can go to Taiji, but everyone can watch The Cove movie, share it with their friends, and bring friends to our website to take action:

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