Saturday, 29 September 2012

Of all the things I wanted to do before I hit 50

30th Sept (morning)

Of all the things I wanted to do before I hit 50 
I can honestly say standing out in a typhoon 
trying to photograph men buying freshly slaughtered 
dolphin meat wasn't one of them. But here I am ...

Up at the usual 5am we weren't expecting the worst 
of the typhoon till late afternoon and left the 
hotel to low winds and calm waters. Only the 
absence of the tourist boats and seeing the fishing 
boats had anchored away from the sea walls reminded 
us it was on its way. 
We arrived in Taiji to find the banger boats 
safely moored in anticipation of the typhoon. 
We checked dolphins in the sea pens and then sat 
and watched the rains arrive from the south… 
Thinking there wasn't a lot we could achieve for 
a while John and I decided to go get supplies. As 
we drove away from the town we passed a very 
surprised meat buyer with his police escort. 
They must have thought we had already 
left. U-turn!! 
And one thing lead to another, in u-turning back 
to the butcher house we stumbled across a skiff 
heading towards the cove … why would they be going 
there with the impending weather?!?! So another u-turn 
had us driving to the cove where 8 policemen watched 
us videoing the dolphin hunters remove the last of 
the nets and signs. It was lovely to see the cove 
as it should be.. a place of beauty, a place to be 
enjoyed.. It’s a shame that as soon as this weather 
passes Taiji will transform it back to be their 
dirty little secret, the thing that brings so much 
shame to their town. 
Net free cove
As I type it’s 12.30 and we can hear the winds starting to 
pick up. Soon the Cove Guardians will be going again to 
check the dolphins in the sea pens and my stomach is in 
knots. Not because I’m frightened to go out in the typhoon, 
but because I don’t want to see what I fear we are going to 

2012, First Day and First Slaughter.

First Day and First Slaughter.
29th September

John & I should have arrived in Taiji yesterday lunch time, but we had a journey thwart with mishaps …  although worse than any of the travel problems we were having was the frustration we felt because we were not in Taiji standing with the other Cove Guardians as a pod of about 30 pilot whales were driven into the cove. The poor whales were so frightened they smashed themselves against rocks and tried to beach …. If you haven’t seen the footage please check the official facebook page 

We arrived at the hotel at 11pm as a few of the Guardians were heading back to the cove to check on the pod. We exchanged a rushed hello, goodnight till we saw them again this morning….
By the time John and I arrived at the cove the dolphin hunters were already preparing for the slaughter.

They split the pod….. the police told me they were intending to release the younger ones, to drive them back out to sea … I don’t know if the police thought that news would please us? If they did then they really don’t understand why we are here.

Time after time the waters in the cove turned red, there didn’t seem to be any attempt to hide the blood. Then the skiffs would transport the slaughtered pilot whales, several bodies at a time, dragged by their tails, to the waiting banger boats that transported them to butcher house.

A break for lunch .. then more slaughter … about 20 in total. We can make a good estimation from the number of ropes tied to each skiff.

And then the younger pod members (looking at the size of the fins I think what the police told us was correct), scared, hungry and exhausted, without their parents and grandparents to look after them and lead them, were driven back into the ocean.  We watched for a long time after the  banger boats left them….., we watched the youngsters turn and head back to Taiji for a while …then they turned again and headed out to sea….  

The meal we shared tonight with the other Guardians was filled with long silences. Many said that is two days was the worst they had endured here.

A typhoon is expected tomorrow.. as we walked back to the hotel we could see people preparing for it. The boats in the harbour are prepared for it ….  But nobody will prepare the dolphins in the sea pens, or think to release them …we expect they will be left to their fate.
I will never, ever, understand how this town can say it loves dolphins. Murder and abuse isn’t love.