September 7. 2013

Save Japan Dolphins 
shared Richard O'Barry's status.
11 hours ago
Please read carefully
"Please don't let me be misunderstood" -- Joe Cocker

I have been asked a thousand times: "Why don't you work together with SSCS in Taiji?" 

It's very difficult to answer that ongoing question without being misunderstood and perceived as someone who is is criticizing or condemning SSCS. But I will give it a try:

The Sea Shepherd crew are heroes because of their great work saving whales. Whale Wars documented there heroism. We get that.

People in Japan do not see Whale Wars. They see the "reverse angle" of the popular TV show. The people of Japan have had their mind twisted by the media here. The media is run by the government. They have everyone here (including expats) believing that SSCS are terrorists. In their mind, SSCS and Al-Qaeda are the same kind of thing. They are wrong, of course, but that's what the Japanese media has the people believing. That notion is fixed in place. 

The next step for the Japanese media is to get all Westerners in Taiji under the same umbrella. They have NOT been successful in getting Dolphin Project under that umbrella.

It's much more difficult and dangerous for Japanese citizens to get lumped together under that umbrella. If they get them under the umbrella these folks will be forever branded as "puppets for the Western anti-whaling movement". This is why our Japanese brothers and sisters cannot be photographed alongside SSCS. ( This is the elephant in the room that nobody is talking about) In spite of the danger many Japanese came here on September 1st. They were assured that they would not be photographed with SSCS. Thank you for your cooperation on that, Melissa!

I read on Facebook that there were a "few" Japanese here on opening day. Let me set the record straight:The Japanese protesters outnumbered the Westerners. Count them in the photographs. It's an easy thing to do.

They are getting organized. Their group is called: "Flippers Japan". They are NOT under Western leadership. Flippers Japan invited me to protest with them in Tokyo, not the other way around. They invited me to stand with them at the cove. We did not bring them here. They brought us here. It's a major breakthrough.

Flippers Japan wants to open an office here in Taiji. I hope they will do that soon. (Note to self: Im a Westerner. Stay away from the Flippers Japan office)

These brave Japanese activists hold the key to abolishing the slaughter. Why alienate them? To do so would be insane. 

And some of them live right here in Taiji. I'm not going to expose their identity on Faceboook because the bad guys are reading this. I will go back up the mountain where the SSCS crew are and show them the proof once I hit the send key.

This is all I have to say on this matter. I'm not going back and forth on this. It's a huge energy drain. At 74 years of age I have to budget my energy and stay focused on the real work: connecting up with the Japanese people. Eventually they will step up (if they are allowed) and they will take ownership of this issue.

With due respect to the SSCS heroes.

Peace, love, and revolution,
- ric


September 6, 2013 
by Mark Palmer, Save Japan Dolphins
By Tim Burns
Cove Monitor
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

On Friday morning, we were up at 4:00 AM.   Eleven Earth Island Cove Monitors, which included Ric O’Barry and several new Monitors who are training to come back to Taiji later in the season, headed into Taji.  We all stay in the nearby town of Kii-Katsurra, which has restaurants and more secure hotels than Taiji. 

In fact, at this time of year, Taiji is virtually a ghost town.  It closes down, when it could be a vibrant tourist center with plenty of activity.  At least, that is our hope, if we can shut down the dolphin hunts and promote Taiji as a center for eco-tourism.

Most of our conversations this morning revolved around the hunters not finding dolphins today.  But by 8AM the undeniable lines of boats on the horizon marked another dolphin drive.  

This one was different.   There were three different formations on the horizon, all headed for the notorious Cove.   After several hours, one small pod of 15 or so pilot whales ended up outwitting the Japanese banger boats and made it back out to sea.  

As they steamed out to help the other boats, a pod of bottlenose dolphins became their next prey.  Bottlenose are particularly important to the fishermen for the captive trade – they are the same species as “Flipper” and so are highly prized by dolphinariums. 

The dolphin hunters ended up driving the pod into the mouth of Taiji Harbor.  Three boats kept the pod pinned against the rocks for the next four and a half hours, as the other two formations went back and forth out at sea.   Those pods were spotted several times fleeing for the open ocean, but the banger boats always managed to get them headed back in the direction of the Cove. 

Eventually all pods were herded together and were driven into the Cove.  In years past, in our experience, the dolphin hunters would have given in long before this.  It can only be concluded that they have several orders for captive bottlenose dolphins that need to get filled. 

Bottlenose dolphins behind the nets in the Cove, many of which will be picked for a life in captivity.  Photo by Vickie Collins.

Taiji is a hub for the international blood dolphin$ trade.  China and Japanese marine parks are some of the largest consumers of live dolphins from Taiji.  

Ric explained today that many of these animals are so stressed from the 6-7 hour chase and the realization that they have been separated from their own family pod and joined with two other pods, that it may be several weeks before they will eat.   You have to wonder how many of them can make it through the stress and no food for that length of time.  Any dead dolphins in Taiji, of course, wind up on supermarket shelves.

Then, on Saturday, these individuals were separated from the remaining members of the pod to be tamed and eventually shipped around the world for our amusement.  They face a shortened life of medicated, dead food for doing stupid tricks.

The dolphin hunters took 11-13 dolphins captive.  One juvenile dolphin left for the harbor pens, but came back under the tarps.  A few minutes later, a larger dolphin came out headed to the pens, but no juvenile.   We stationed someone quickly at the Fishermen's Union in Taiji harbor, where the slaughterhouse processes the meat, and sure enough they came over about an hour later and unloaded the poor dead juvenile dolphin for processing. 

The remaining dolphins were pushed back to sea.  Ric points out there is no telling how many dolphins died of stress or will die of stress due to the six-plus hours of driving the dolphins into the Cove.

I have taken the pledge to not buy a ticket and hope you, too, will take the pledge with Ric O'Barry and the Dolphin Project to not buy a ticket.

Ric O'Barry watches the drive boats of the dolphin hunters manuever outside the Cove in Taiji.  Photo by Tim Burns.

Photos by Tim Burns and Vickie Collins.

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