Thursday, 14 October 2010

John and I are back home

John and I are back home in Manchester, UK. We have not seen a bed for over 45 hours, although we napped on the flights… At every opportunity we were logging onto facebook to see that was happening with our friends at The Cove on this day of protest, the 14th.  You guys did great xxxx
We are so happy to be back with the kids, but it was pretty bad planning on our part to spend the 14th in the air!! Doh. But we feel like we joined you by wearing our SSCS t-shirts all the way home. As I said in my last blog we were under surveillance at Osaka airport, and lots of people were taking photos of us, mostly the young Japanese… but we had nothing worse than a couple of dirty looks.

My ankles are swollen and my legs are bitten and I’m so tired I can’t see straight so this is a really short note to let you know we’re ok.

For the Oceans, with Sea Shepherd…our little bit …

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Today we are leaving Japan.

Today we are leaving Japan. We have missed the kids and want to be with them, but at the same time we want to stay here with the team and help keep the pressure on…

We didn’t have to leave till mid-day so we offered to be “lookout” at the vantage point for one last morning if the boats were out. They were… so off we went while the others headed to The Cove. There are 12 boats which normally break into 2 lots of 6, one group going North and the other South.. 4 came in by about 8.30. We were pretty relieved as leaving here would have been much harder if there had been dolphin in The Cove…  but the others didn’t follow. In fact it was a long time before we eventually located them, well 6 of them. They were miles out, but with the binoculars we could see they were in formation…not good, and they were moving slowly side on, backwards and forwards…really not good… They were too far away for us to be 100% sure, but we’d bet 2 years ice-cream they were driving dolphin. Our hearts sank. We watched for over an hour as they struggled with their task. The last 2 boats had arrived and were stationary just off the headland, they didn’t go into the harbour, it looked like they were waiting to help.  We think what eventually happened was that when they tried to cross the busy shipping lane the noise from the much bigger boats made them loose control of the pod  as they suddenly broke formation 2 dashing off to the side (we could see the clouds of black smoke caused by the sudden acceleration - their engines need a clean). After that there seemed to be a lot of confusion, they were all over the place…just like when they were driving the babies out to sea yesterday and it wasn’t going well. Nothing like the day before that when they drove the pod into The Cove with what looked to be effortless efficiency.

Then they broke any pretence at formation and we could see from the wake behind each boat that they were heading back to the harbour at full speed. At last we could relax, although we would not leave the vantage point till they were all in the harbour.  As we were packing up our stuff a man came walking around the corner, we had not heard him coming and he’d no idea we were there so he and I both jumped in surprise then laughed. He asked John to take his picture which he did, then he asked to take our picture. After he’d taken our photograph his eyes widened and he pointed at the SSCS emblem on John’s t-shirt saying Sea Shepherd? John replied “Yes, we are here for the dolphin” He shook John’s hand and told us we (that is SSCS) are famous… he didn’t say infamous..and I repeat, he shook John’s hand. I really believe steps forward are being made here all the time…We have been so proud to be just a small part of it all.

Then we had one last task, to count the captive dolphin in the tiny pens at the neck of the harbour.  We counted a definite 16, but there could be more. I don’t know how long they have been in these tiny pens as they were already there when John and I arrived… But what I want to know is why were the pens built at the neck of the harbour??? Because it narrows there the boats have no choice but to pass right by them, and then, because they are leaving the harbour they can speed up so go full throttle .. the noise must drive the dolphin mad… so very cruel.

So we took our leave,  Junior came with us,  so SSCS are 3 Cove Guardians down, but we took solace in the fact The Cove was empty and more people had arrived to help. Junior,  John and I will continue our work in the UK.

I am sat in the airport writing this. John and I are in our SSCS colours. I believe security are watching us and I’m playing a game called “How Many Times Can We Put Rubbish In The Bin Before They Stop Sending Security To Check It”…John thinks I’m being an attention seeker and that they’re constantly checking all the bins… who knows.

We have not had any reaction to the way we are dressed except the usual whispers and points so I’m feeling quite comfortable….just as I typed that someone took our picture, lol

If I can I’ll post this before I get on the plane… I’ll write again over the weekend to let you know we are home safe, but that will be my last blog…..for this campaign…..

For the Oceans, with Sea Shepherd, …our little bit ..

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

And the sea ran red ….

And the sea ran red ….

I did manage to sleep a little last night, but it took a bottle of wine…and we were back at The Cove for 4.30am.. it was still dark and I think Steven was very happy to see us after his all night vigil.  The dolphins were still slapping their tails in frustration (they’d been trapped for 24 hours in that small netted off area) and it sounded even more disturbing in the dark. A noise I’ll never forget.

John and Scott went into the town to see if the gutting boat had left the harbour, it hadn’t. Was there hope??
John climbed a tsunami escape route to try and get photos from a different angle.. I didn’t envy him this task as this is a rarely used path (although clearly marked on all the maps) webbed by giant spiders..I’d gone up the same path with him during the days previously and, even though I’m not scared of the spiders back home, here they are something else…and he was climbing in the dark….no torch. He told me later he found a branch and waved in in front of him to break the webs. Unfortunately his efforts were in vain as we think it was noticed by the authorities that he was missing from the beach as guys went out searching for him..although it was the 3rd time walking past him before they spotted him dangling over the cliff edge.  I was very proud of my husband… even if he was discovered…..and the sight of him walking down the path back to us with his “guards” had me grinning but at the same time as I was very relieved he’d not been hurt. There have been several death threats against SSCS (being investigated by the police here) and he was alone up there, in the dark, with Sea Shepherd written all over him… yes I am very proud of him.
But a quick note to my kids…if the police ever bring you home to me I wont be so proud!! 

The trainers arrived and were taken around to the Cove, they selected 2, which surprised me as they were Risso Dolphins, so John and I left the guys at the Cove …jumped in the car and drove into the town of Taiji  expecting to film them being put in one of those tiny holding pens…but they drove straight past the pens (the dolphins in the pens were jumping, it was probably the noise from all the boats ..busy day at the neck of the harbour…but I want to think it was in support of their brothers being dragged through the water strapped to the side of a motor boat...past the ..I don’t know what you call it… the building where they chop up the bodies ?? and to a waiting pickup truck with a crane which lifted the 2 terrified dolphin and  dumped them in the open back as the caring (not) trainers made a pretence of making them comfortable by pouring scoops of water on them…oh how kind…not. We are guessing from the crude form of transport they were not going far, but we didn’t follow them because while we were trying to get footage of this (suggestion for would be activists - invest in a good zoom lens) we saw 6 banger/hunting boats leave the harbour…here we go again …so headed to the vantage point to watch what was happening…
We were in phone contact with the guys at the Cove so we knew they had started the slaughter, they could hide the act inside the Cove and behind tarpaulins but not the blood…We knew as well that they had decided to release the juveniles, but we’d been lead to believe it was the juveniles and the mothers. When you watch the video we took you’ll hear  us discussing what a botched job the XXXXX’s were making of driving them out to freedom, but now we know the kids were released without any parent to lead them, no wonder they were all over the place and acting out of character..I can’t get that thought out of my head, a bunch of kids, alone, scared, disorientated, tired, hungry…and having just witness the slaughter of their family.. I just keep thinking where are they now? But we’ll never know if they made it or not.
We were told the XXXXX’s had released the youngsters “for the survival of the species“…mmm yes of course they did..because they are so experienced at this “ release stuff”  that they’d pick the group with the least change of survival to set free… …in my mind it was a PR thing.…a way of saying to the world, who are watching, that “we are not the bad guys“. As my teenage daughter would say “you fail”.
How much thought was put into that? None??!?  What dip stick dreamed up this PR stunt!

John and I are 100% SSCS …no dolphins should have been killed … today was not a good day…but releasing the babies as a PR thing (I’m not speaking for SSCS I’m only a supporter) but it did show that world pressure (go Steven xx ) is having an influence..I’m begging you to keep that presure on.

The other thing you might notice about the our filming of the dolphins being driven out is that we find it hard to spot them…that was not a problem on the drive in…work out the math….we don’t know specific numbers, we can only give best guess, but we think 20 - 2 (captive) - 12 (for meat with a mercury garnish) = 6 babies  driven away from the place their family was slaughtered and into the open sea with a slim chance of survival…yes..go Japan… this is the way to conserve you stock and jobs for the future,,, DOH! Are we on the same planet??? I’m so frustrated.

Earlier today, after the slaughter I was numb, now it’s all gushing out…sorry you guys are on the receiving end..anyhow.. the rest of today…

So we’d seen the 6 boats leave harbour, they came back empty handed :> .. We told you the fishermen had made real hash of driving the babies out to sea… So now the nets were down and we could swim The Cove again.. We didn’t want to, I mean, would you? Could you?  But there were reporters and film makers wanting to film us, and the whole idea of SSCS in Taiji is to bring focus, so we swam.

Quick note for all you fellow 40 something’s who have had babies and might not be feeling so good about stripping off in front of cameras…don’t forget your swim kit, like I did today….. Luckily….emm yes luckily John had his swimming trunks in the car and I borrowed them…
(We got a call this evening to say SSCS had reached the news channels (pretty cool considering we are “terrorists” and should be in jail just for entering the country lol)….but not so cool when you are in your husbands trunks…doh…hey ho all for a good cause !!

The film guys got the footage they wanted of us in the water but I am glad they could not film us in the Cove as it got intense …. they’d not washed away the blood. I wish we could give you a photo of what we saw, but we had problems with the camera, sorry. Elora (and I cannot tell you how hard this was for a passionate vegitarion 16 year old child) , wiped her fingers in the blood then swam back to the shore one handed , so show people well done you xx

Tomorrow …I was just going to write tomorrow is our last day, but it’s not, it’s our first… the start of our lives as people who care, who want our planet to still be here 2 generations forward…..and  the rest….

A reporter interviewed me today, she was shocked that John and I had funded this trip..she asked could the cost of this not have bought a pretty amazing holiday?? Well yes it could..obviously..but I can’t think of any holiday that could compare with this opportunity we had to make a difference, learn so much and meet some pretty amazing people..

To Scott and Elora.. Your hospitality was second to none…
and during our time here you did not stop looking out for us… I mean…I was clueless that we were being followed again today till you sorted it …turned the tables and followed them lol  But seriously I know you guys are emotionally drained and very tired, but you have been amazing. Thanks.

For the Oceans, with Sea Shepherd…our little bit…

Monday, 11 October 2010

Why we are here...the reason has arrived ,,, and we are expecting them to be killed tomorrow

Imagine the scene, two 40 something’s sitting on a beach laughing at the fact they have just heard that there have been more death threats made against Sea Shepherd in Japan. And both ladies are wearing Sea Shepherd colours….surreal…well I’d have thought so except one of them was me..

I don’t want to write a blog tonight, I just want to sleep…if I can…so I’ll just give you a quick run through the day and then attach a link to Elora’s ..she’s the reporter

As we drove to Taiji this morning we expected the fleet to be in the harbour respecting the festival /holiday as we’d been lead to believe by differing sources. We’ll never know who lied to who or even if it was disrespectful for the fishermen to go out today….but as soon as we saw guys walking around in white wellies we knew what was going to happen. The boats had gone out and the sea was flat calm…
John and I went to the vantage point and the others to the beach with our only “weapons” ..the cameras.
It wasn’t long before we saw the boats coming in in formation. The water was breaking in front of them and for as long as possible we could tried to convince ourselves the white water was, well, anything except for  dolphin, although we know it was .. And eventually we saw the first fin.. I cried and John told me to toughen up, there was so sympathy, we had a job to do.. I could cry later, at home in Manchester.

So we filmed the drive in ..the panicked dolphin, the sound of the banging boats and as soon as they were in The Cove we dashed back to the others.  We had not been able to see the species from the top of the hill, but they are Risso Dolphins.. Guess that means their fate is sealed, they are not as pretty as “Flipper” (bottle nose) so they’ll be meat with a mercury garnish….

A lady said to me on the beach that the Japanese have a longer life expectancy ..the longest in the world ..
I didn’t know anything about this subject so I’ve just googled it. And yes, she was right, although they tip the chart for death by strokes, and looking at the faces of some of the fishermen today, for reasons I’ll go into later, I don’t doubt it!! I’m happy for them. But I’m not here to worry about their life expectancy, I here to worry about the life expectancy of our oceans as they, and other countries, “farm”… not farm, as that implies sustaining your stock, no.. the only thing I can liken the human race to is a parasite, something that feeds of something till that something dies and then the parasite dies with it. Clever hey? Not !!

We had a busy beach ..and lots of fishermen watching their ££££££’s We were reminded of our promise not to swim in The Cove when £££££££’s of meat, with a mercury garnish,  were trapped there … we’d be arrested…..scary hey?? I mean they can hold you here for 28?days……
Hmmmm well did the police ended up looking really silly or what??… ‘cos when Steven Thompson dived into the waters and swam out to the dolphin the police could not arrest him as he’s done nothing wrong (??!!?!). As SSCS drove away there were at least 12 of the fishermen’s Tonka Trunks  = apx 24 fishermen who’d been told what Steven had done and dashed up for their little victory,… probably all wanting to know why Steven was not under arrest.. Lol .. Explain that one…please …  and explain, at the same time, why a Sea Shepherd member is in Japan and not under arrest .. You start to think…., well you start to…how do I put this this, I’m a Mom and if I lied to my kids well, I’d lose control as they’d have no respect. So what I’m asking the police is,  if you have a request, ask…don’t dress it up as “The Law” and make it scary… 28 days detention, when it’s not. Be honest.
Steven is not Sea Shepherd but has been spending time with us. This guy is still at the beach now, cold and hungry, I’m honoured to have him as a friend. His intention is to remain their all night on watch.
We’ll be back at The Cove in a few hours and are in phone contact with Steven. When we join him, at dawn, we expect to watch these dolphin be slaughtered … nursing mothers and babies too…

I feel like I have lived a week in this one day, from our first sighting to sitting here now it seems so long ago.. I want to sleep but ..well could you?

For the Oceans, with Sea Shepherd,… our little bit….

Sunday, 10 October 2010

I’m sunburnt (factor 30 wasn‘t strong enough)

I’m sunburnt (factor 30 wasn‘t strong enough)…and happy…never thought I’d say those two things in the same sentence.

We woke this morning to brilliant sunshine, the rain had gone. Scott and Patricia did a quick check of the harbour and The Cove while the rest of us enjoyed a leisurely breakfast….The boats had not gone out again today because of the festival.
Then it was time to grab out swim stuff and head to Taiji. It was busy when we got to The Cove .. We had been beaten there by film crews, reporters, police…The Cove is gaining in notoriety…guess that means SSCS are doing what we are here to do which is getting the message out.

When I first visited The Cove I was very aware that I was being filmed and photographed, either by the fishermen or reporters. It’s only a few days later and it no longer makes me feel uncomfortable. So while Scott networked we escaped the heat of the sun in the cool water…click click click…We swam out and into the entrance of The Cove, click click click and after our swim we sat on the beach drying, click click click..I was just relieved the camera’s didn’t follow us to the rest room lol
We did 2 trips to the Cove today and I swam twice. Where I have become desensitised to the press interest I haven’t been able to desensitise from the feeling I get when I swim into The Cove. We do it to bring attention, and it’s working, so I’ll keep doing it… but the claustrophobic sick feeling I get get’s stronger each time. Maybe it’s because the longer I’m out here the more I’m learning from the rest of the guys who have answered the call. We are such a mixed group..some who have been activists for decades, some for a few years..newbies like John and I..some who have decisions to make. John and I have stepped out of our bubble and there’s no way we can go back..we can’t unlearn what we’ve learnt, unless someone has one of those flashy things from the movie “Men in Black”.. what do you call it, oh yes a neuralizer…OMG John’s just discovered you can buy them on the internet for $49
I was hoping to get some beauty sleep lol before I have to step in front of the camera’s again tomorrow (we bumped into reporters on the way back from dinner tonight and they said they’d see us there at 7 am…) but we’ve been invited by Steven Thompson onto a conference call from 12pm - 2am, I understand a lot of people, representing several different conservation groups, will be dialling in for a “brain-storming” session, there will be celebs and sponsors …oh and John and I …..I think we’ll just be listening.

And for those asking, yes still veggie …..
For the Oceans, with Sea Shepherd…. our little bit…

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Never again will I moan about the wet weather in the UK!

Never again will I moan about the wet weather in the UK! When it comes to rain Japan can teach us how it’s done. It’s like someone upstairs has been ..I was going to say holding a watering can over us, but it’s more like a garden hose, I really hope the attached videos can convey how wet it is here. But this is why Japan is so green and so beautiful.

This morning we were pretty sure that the festival and weather would keep the boats in the harbour so we lay in a little later. Then John, Patricia and I , who had been here a whole 3/2 days, took Junior, who arrived in last night, around Taiji. (we had become the old-timers - felt nice, felt right).  We  checked the boats were in the harbour, did a walk along The Cove, visited the pens holding the captive dolphins … they weren’t jumping today and I was starting to wonder if they weren’t there, but John reminded me there were no boat engine noises to drive them crazy today whereas when we have seen them before, at the neck of the harbour, it’s always busy with boats…guess it’s like living with severe tinnitus for them…no wonder they don’t live long in captivity…
But I digress.. So after the holding pens we visited the Whale Museum, by visited I mean parked outside and looked at it as there’s no way we’d pay money to “fund” this ….sorry digressing again…then we stopped at the dolphin resort, a hotel with it’s own dolphinarium , sorry I mean dolphin splash pool..and this is where the reality really hits you, they’re held in pens so small that even an idiot must recognise it’s cruel. Guess that’s why the guys working there wont look you in the eye when they walk past you, they always look at their feet..sorry digressing again… it’s hard not to drift off subject as everything upsets me here. No that’s not true. Not everything. It’s like I’m torn in two. I’ll try and explain….

This weekend is the festival.. As we drove through Taiji the floats, that should be so beautiful, were covered in rain sheets, people had plastic rain mats under their national dress which, well…it wasn’t the look of celebration they were hoping to convey.. In fact they looked rather silly.  I was thinking GOOD! If you are religious take this as a message. I was glad the festival and what it stood for was a wash out. But I could not stop thinking of the crocodile of kids I had seen the day earlier, their smiles and hellos that had warmed my heart. I was so torn ‘cos I’m a mom, I’m guessing these kids were excited and will have  puts lots of work into the weekend only for it to be washed out. They are innocents (like the dolphins) it’s the  generation before them that have sold honour for profit …

I was very glad to drive out of Taiji today and leave them to it…..we escaped to the moutains and after 2 days of rain…wow…Lake District England eat your heart out, you are beautiful but this pips you. The waterfalls were so powerful, yet looking at the river defence walls this was nothing close to the levels that can be experienced here… the videos wet cove ,waterfalls cos words cannot describe the beauty and the power. 

So now we are back at the hotel, and the rain in still pouring down…and I’m glad (sorry kids).

I said I’d post a link covering the “talks”??!? yesterdayThe Meet, and I’m attaching links showing the wet weather and waterfalls.

I feel blessed that so far I’ve had 2 days in glorious sunshine swimming in The Cove and 2 seeing the transformation the rain can make here, a whole new dimension… this country is so beautiful and so are, with the exception of a few, it’s people.

We had a really nice moment on our way back to the hotel.. We stopped at a shop as Junior needed some supplies, Elora can always , and me? well if there’s a bottle of chilled white wine…when a young man approached us and asked if the t-shirts were wearing were Sea Shepherd, we replied yes and he asked to take a photo, of course we said yes and then we bowed and parted. We must be really scary terrorists ..not :) lol

Tomorrow is another day.. I hope it will be similar to this one as I’ve had a great time.
Monday might be a different story….

For the Oceans, with Sea Shepherd .. our little bit ….

Friday, 8 October 2010

Daniel in the Lions Den

Daniel Elora in the lion’s den… how to be humbled by the strength of a child…

We were up and out at for 6.30am but, it was as we had been told, the fishing boats were in the harbour, they hadn’t gone out this morning because of the festival. But it could also have been because of severe weather warnings. Although it’s still very warm here the wind is picking up. But I think it was because of the festival as the fishermen were starting to fly flags on their poles…see attached video.. flags It seemed surreal that they were trying to make something that is so ugly look beautiful for the festival… these boats don’t discriminate..they kill pregnant female dolphins, nursing mothers and their calves, or worse take/kill the mothers and leave the babies to their fate, which without their mothers milk and protection …well it’s not going to be a long and happy life.. Where is the economic sense in slaughtering the whole pod/family? Forgetting the ethical question for just  moment…how is that sustainable? All farmers know if you are greedy and kill all your stock leaving non to breed that…....well it’s just stupid.
The Taiji festival will last 3 days, but we’ll still check each morning that the boats are in harbour.

So that was the first thing on “the to do” list today ticked.

The next on the list was much more for Elora, Yoshiko and Steven. The plan was to drive to the fisherman’s Union and for Elora to “interview” the Union President. Quick reminder, Elora is just 16!! So we had a quick strategy meeting (aka safety reminder)…before jumping in our cars and …well this is where I had a silly moment..I don’t know where my head was but I hadn’t remembered the Union was in Taiji, and as we headed into the town I went cold. Scared. Doh!! I turned to John and admitted that I’d thought Scott’s “safety review” had been a bit ott, but I’d not …doh!…remembered that the Union building was in Taiji…(like where else would it be??) Thank heaven for sunglasses as it was the only way nobody would see the fear in my eyes.. But I couldn’t not go, how could I stand by and let a 16 year old girl (even if her nic-name from Matt is “Rambo”) go into the Lions Den and me not even have the guts to stand in the car park across the road to “be there”. 

So we arrived and Elora, Yoshiko and Steven all walked across the road to the building to do the interview while Scott (Elora’s Dad and SSCS Member) Patricia John and I all waited in the shop car park. Since we arrived here we have worn our Sea Shepherd t-shirts, we don’t hide the fact we are supporters, and as people walked past us (lots of people as it’s a busy shop) we could see the fear, suspicion, dislike in their eyes and I was starting to feel like a leper till a “crocodile” of school kids walked past us….they smiled, waved said hello and it was encouraged by their teachers. It warmed my heart.

The Union guys would not speak to Elora, well they did….. but only to put a hand up to her face and tell her they did not appreciate her blog… Scott (aka Dad) went across the road to be by her side and after a dialog which was starting to get louder  (we could hear it) Scott and Elora walked away. They came back to watch with us leaving Yosiko and Steven speaking with the Union. All credit to them they were there for over an hour. I wont try and explain what was achieved, except to say I’ll post a link to a blog soon with the details and that it was possibly a step. I’m praying it was a step.
Okay, so I was only standing across the road in support… but today I really feel like I’ve made a difference. I feel like every penny spent getting here (kids Christmas fund included) was worth it for just this day. Like the visa card advert..priceless.

I am very relieved to say that there was no physical aggression .. And the icing on the cake is that I had the opportunity to watch “Private Space” in action………cool.

For the Oceans, with Sea Shepherd …our little bit…

Thursday, 7 October 2010

So what is it all parent’s know, but that the police and coastguard don’t?

So what is it all parent’s know, but that the police and coastguard don’t? The answer is that if you don’t want your kids to do something you don’t try to tell them not to do it… well …not without backing it up with a good reason.

Today was a warm and windless day resulting in flat seas…..perfect conditions for the dolphin hunters, but again they have come back empty handed, such a relief.

We set off at 6.30, Elora, John and I went to watch the fleet return from a vantage point while Scott and the others kept a watch from The Cove. Whilst we were waiting for the boats to return the Coastguards came to introduce themselves to us, and to re-iterate that it is illegal to cut nets. We are guessing our snorkelling gear has put people on edge. We assured them we had no intention of doing so, that we were only there to watch and take pictures…Once the boats were on their way back into the harbour we left our vantage point and joined the rest of the group back at The Cove. We were making  plans to go white water rafting (Japanese style, standing up??) when the Coastguards returned for another chat…then the police wanted to talk to us..…
The police asked us if we would refrain from swimming in The Cove at all due the “sensitive situation” following Black Fish and the net cutting incident. They implied that our swimming in The Cove might inflame the already upset fishermen and we could be hurt…Scott reminded them that SSCS had agreed not to swim in The Cove when the dolphins were being held there, but that when there were no dolphins, nets or fishermen around that we would continue to swim ..….and round the conversations went for so long we didn’t have the time to go rafting anymore… and for some reason we had decided we just wanted to sit at The Cove and go for a swim…So what is it all parent’s know, but that the police and coastguard don’t? The answer is that if you don’t want your kids activists to do something you don’t try to tell them not to do it… well not without backing it up with a good reason.

So we had our swim and the fishermen turned up, but they only took photographs of us (maybe due to the police presence). 

We have just ended the evening with a lovely curry together. John and I are not vegetarians, but we are not eating meat while we are here in respect for Scott, Elora and the work being done. But what is surprising us is that we are enjoying the food very much. I’m not saying when we return to the UK we’ll never eat meat again but it will be reduced… yes that means for you kids too lol

Thanks for all the messages of support xx they really mean a lot.
6.30 start tomorrow,
For the Oceans, with Sea Shepherd….our little bit …..

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

We made a splash... within hours of arriving...

Hi All,
I’m going to call this day one and yesterday arrival day…We spent last night at The Best Western and after a lovely buffet breakfast drove to Taiji arriving mid-day. Scott ( SSCS member) and Elora (his daughter who’s just 16) met us, took us for lunch and then gave us the guided tour…..which finished with a swim…

I‘ve lost over 2 stones recently, but I had no idea how good I was looking till today!!! As I went for the swim with Elora and John at The Cove (it’s the only way to see it because of the barriers)…well, there were at least 6 men who could not take their eyes off me!!!! Oh to be 20 again…
Okay, that was the fantasy, but the reality was even better…because John and I were in our snorkelling gear we are suspected us of being with “Black Fish” the conservation group who recently sent divers  to Taiji to cut nets and release the captured dolphins Blackfish .The police, who greeted us with curtsey when we arrived (and to take our passport information lol) appeared to stay around to ensure the fishermen, who had turned up within minutes of us entering the water .. were not aggressive towards us. I was shocked at the attention we were receiving within hours of our arrival. While we were in the water the police were trying to explain to Scott, who had stayed on shore, that the fishermen were not very tolerant of divers after the Black Fish incident and encourage us out of the water….
To all at DiveLife following my blog, how cool is that?? Can you guys believe that a PADI open water (just) diver could be suspected of international terrorism after just a 6 week course?? Still laughing now.

The sea is lovely and warm and viz is ok, not much weed and great rock formations…Scott and Elora are right, it would be a great place for a dive holiday were it not for this blight.

The Cove is not what John or I expected at all. When we arrived the tide was out and it was …well it.. was tiny. And beautiful! A picnic area, toilets and showers....big car park… divers heaven.. I am praying so hard that I do not have to see wild dolphins trapped and slaughtered in that space.

We went to see the dolphins penned at the moment awaiting their fate. There were at least 3 in each pen which ..and this is a guess ..looks apx 15m x15m. They were obviously stressed.  Heartbreaking.

I’m keeping his short as I’m jet lagged and have a very early start tomorrow.
Tomorrow is the last good  day before the storms arrive so we are expecting the worse and hoping for the best.

For the Oceans, with Sea Shepherd … our little bit..

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

We have arrived in Japan

Hi All,
We’ve arrived safely in Japan. We have been travelling for over 24 hours and we are shattered. What were the chances of Japan and the UK announcing a terror alert the same time we fly for the first time in 20 years???  Well they did and it resulted in very slow moving queues at immigration. I know it’s right to put safety first but I was tired and I‘d eaten too much aeroplane food… then the car hire company had a problem getting our hotel into the sat nav, and the toll road… well let me just say next time someone holds up a queue of cars I’ll empathise a little more with their plight. We get to the hotel room, drop our bags …and …well, I’ve never seen  kettle this one before and there are no instructions….but we have worked it out and I’ve had my caffeine fix. The small Japanese bath is really comfortable (but then I am only 5ft 2”) and I’m relaxing.

Ooops, just remembered, in the eyes of some Japanese John and I are terrorists for just supporting Sea Shepherd. 

 I was having a moment earlier today (lots of time to think) and I was questioning what use I’d be in Taiji.  I was thinking should I just have donated the money this is costing us….I’m not comfortable with confrontation. John on the other hand is. Here in Britain gill netting is legal with a licence. We hate it….The tight 50mm mesh kills everything it traps although the netters (I wont use the word fishermen) might only be interested in one species, usually bass of any size. We have seen the mess netting leaves behind. We have cleared washed up nets from the beaches, and even put on our scuba gear to cut free nets that have been abandoned to float with the tides killing again… and again.. and again. I can’t begin to describe the smell of them filled with fish and crabs at various levels of decay.

So when we see gill netters putting out the nets John enjoys nothing more than walking up and taking a few photos. They swear at us and I feel scared (our soft golden retrievers wouldn’t help us if even if we needed it). I know this is only a fraction of the hostility I might have to face in Taiji,  but it’s still in essence the same situation … men doing a job they cannot be proud of and feeling shame when people watch them.

I’ve had people take photos of me when I’m litter picking on the beach and asking me if I’m “on tag” lol but at no time did I want to swear at them…. maybe because I’m not ashamed , because stopping the rubbish washing back into our oceans is a good thing to do.

Ok mini crisis over.. Dolphins we’re on our way…we'll be with you tomorrow...
For the Oceans, with Sea Shepherd, … our little bit..

Sunday, 3 October 2010

The decision

Hello, my name’s Jackie. I’m your average middle-aged working mum. Married to John for 18 years, 3 kids….I’ve never done anything out of the ordinary …I haven’t travelled outside of the UK in 20 years, happy to holiday in Wales… although I donate to charities I’ve never got off my butt and volunteered like so many do…..yep…. Mrs Average.
So why on the 5th Sept (our wedding anniversary) did John suddenly say “Want to go to Taiji and support Sea Shepherd?” and without hesitation did I reply “Do you really mean it? Oh yes please”. …I guess it’s quite a long answer so get comfortable and I’ll try to explain.

John has always loved the ocean and is happiest around water. They say opposites attract and it was definitely true in our case as I was never comfortable around water. I even hated putting my head under a running shower lol. But slowly, over the years, I changed.. I had to as it was either try or be left behind. The kids have all taken after their dad I’m pleased to say! I learned to sail, kayak and ultimately, last year, learned to dive. Thank you DiveLife for your infinite patience!!

Flicking TV channels about two years ago we stumbled across the series “Whale Wars” … there was a boat .. and an ocean….so we settled down to watch it, never dreaming of the impact it would have on our lives. By the end of the series we were Sea Shepherd (SSCS) supporters sea shepherd. But what could we do to help, it’s not like we could join the crew of the Steve Irwin.. So we donated, bought the t-shirts and spread the word. We started a beach tidy project …we talked of “doing” things later …when we retired….

Then the documentary “The Cove” was released. Our friends Kate & Mark gave a copy to John for his birthday. John and the kids watched it, but I didn’t have the guts to. They talked of nothing else after it… now what did I say earlier about trying or being left behind by my family... so I eventually sat down with a box of tissues, thinking I’d rather be at the dentists, and I watched it. I cried. If you haven’t seen The Cove I’ve attached a link to an abbreviated version on facebook THE COVE
Up until that moment I had been so jealous of friends and family who had swum with dolphins at these theme parks. I’d looked at the photos of them, all smiling. And by all I mean the dolphins too. It had never dawned on me that it was cruel and that the photos were a lie, the dolphins are not smiling; it’s just the shape of their face. They’re suffering.

And what about the captured dolphins that weren’t chosen to amuse us? They were killed in the most horrific way for their meat. Those who know me know I’ve lived my life with a disability, it’s been difficult, so knowing that these amazing animals are killed for their meat which contains high mercury levels and that mercury poisoning can result in several diseases, including Minamata, is beyond my comprehension. Minamata killed more than 600 people in Japan in the 50’s, more than 21,000 people filed claims with the government of which 3,000 became certified as having the disease. In 22 documented cases pregnant women who consumed contaminated fish showed mild or no symptoms, but gave birth to children with severe development disabilities.

Now I fast forward to our 18th wedding anniversary. We were spending the weekend with friends, Shirley and Andrew. We’d had a busy day and a nice meal and were settling down to chill out with a movie. I’d been talking about the week earlier when a pod of dolphins had come to play with us. They’d been racing our boat... and winning. We’ve seen them several times this year off Anglesey, but this was the closest they’d come to us, we could have touched them. I’ve attached a link to the video John and Martin took, John put it to music to drown out the squeals of delight from Jenny and I. Dolphins off the boat Jenny was one of the friends I referred to earlier who had swum with dolphins at a park (pre The Cove). She said being with them in the wild was a hundred times better. So when Shirley asked us to put “The Cove” on we didn’t hesitate… we welcome any opportunity to spread the word… but what was so much nicer about watching it this time was that we could say that, so far this season, no dolphins had been killed and that public awareness was to thank for it. And that was it…. that was the moment…the moment of complete clarity... there was something we could do, we could answer the SSCS call for people to go to Taiji, to be a presence, to report what we see to the world… yes, we could do that. And to make sure we didn’t change our minds the next day I posted it on face book.

I’ve used every bit of leave I have at work (sorry kids that means I’m working the October holiday and Christmas) but it still only gives us 7 or 8 days at Taiji as it’s a long journey. I’m scared as I know there have been death threats against any Sea Shepherd supporters going to Taiji.  I don’t know how I’ll cope with the hostility from the fishermen / nationalists ( I mean hey, I’ve been known to cry when a salesman shouted at me at work lol) … most of all I don’t know how I’ll cope if I witness a slaughter.
There are a couple of things I do know… firstly this feels so right and secondly with John by my side I can do this.

I hope you will follow my blog and pass it on to other people who care about our oceans.

For the Oceans, with Sea Shepherd…our little bit…