Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 4: Sun, Boats, and Dolphin Slaughter

It was a gorgeous morning in Taiji. Sunny and warm, with very little wind. This was not good news to any of us. It was perfect weather to go dolphin hunting.
Banger boats leaving the harbor
We drove by the harbor and sure enough the fishermen were on the banger boats, preparing them to go out. From our lookout we watched all 12 banger boats drive single file out of the harbor and spread out to begin their hunt. They went way offshore, and Leah and I left the lookout point to go out on Ady Gil's vessel to try and find them. I'm very comfortable on boats, obviously, since I work on one, so it didn't dawn on me that I might get seasick. I'd forgotten just how sheltered our inland Salish Sea was, and my body did not agree with being out in the unimpeded  Pacific Ocean. As soon as I felt it coming on I tried to follow the advice of my good friend Caroline, who had learned to overcome it while sailing. I stared out at the horizon, sat myself in a spot where I'd get a lot of fresh air, though it was a bit hard with the wind pushing the diesel fumes towards me, and I tried not to think about it. Then I lost it. Thankfully it came in waves (no pun intended) and between my vom sessions overboard I felt fine. Then we found out that we'd missed the boats coming back in and they were already driving a pod of about 10 Risso's into the cove. By the time we got back to our dock and Leah and I hiked up Takababe Mountain, they had all been murdered.

Takababe Mountain is the right side of the cove if you're looking out at the ocean, and is an exhausting hike. Very steep concrete stairs. 3 weeks of this and I'll either pass out, or have legs of steel. Once it leveled out I was shocked at how little you could actually see. There were ropes and barricades everywhere, all from the Town of Taiji. Sea Shepherd even noticed fishermen putting huge bamboo stems into the ground the other day, which now obstructs what little view they did have. They did not have a permit to do this, so we'll see what happens with that. Technically they were trespassing as well, and would need to get permission from the city to do. And of course, there are police everywhere. Today I learned that there are Wakayama Police, Local Police, Riot Police, "Plain-clothes" Police, police who are undercover, and Coast Guard. That's a whole lot of time and money being spent for twenty-something fishermen, and I can't believe the profits from the drive hunts outweigh the money being poured into what is basically a private security detail. So where is this money coming from, and who is giving the orders to have roughly 30-50 officials on the ground around the clock? This story is about so much more than just dolphin meat, we just have to find out what that story is.

All 12 banger boats spreading out to search for dolphins

The Coast Guard was very aware of our presence on the water, and blocked the cove with their vessel
The fishermen try to coverup the evidence of a kill, but here you can see the flukes of a dead Risso's

Will be back on the ground tomorrow, this time with a radio to communicate with the boat. Hoping for wind and a relaxing Sunday!


  1. Thinking about you every minute of every day ... stay safe, be strong and know that we're extremely proud of you!!!

  2. This is so sad! Thank you for being there to observe this cruelty and spread awareness. Some day, no more dolphins will be killed in this cove!

  3. did i mention white rice, saltine crackers, and gingerale? hang in there, you're awesome! :)