Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 5: Rain and Dolphin Base

I've completely lost my sense of time. Every few hours I have to go back through my photos from each day in order to keep my days straight. Was there a slaughter yesterday? Did the boats stay in? Everything here seems to just run together. I'm running on Japan Standard Time and Pacific Standard Time, and being in Taiji makes it feel all the more unreal. What an awful twilight zone this place is.

When we met up downstairs this morning we got the word that the boats did not go out. An awesome way to start your morning! We decided to head into Taiji anyways, just to see what was going on. We stopped at one of the countless vending machines along the side of the road and I bought a can of hot chocolate. So weird, but so good.

The fishermen were busy at the Fishermen's Union (FU) transporting the rest of the meat from yesterday's hunt. I visited with the police who I'd met while watching the fishermen drag the bodies out of the cove. The police work 24 hour shifts here, so whoever we see in the afternoon, we know we'll see in the morning. I'm on a first name basis with 4 of them now, which is nice. It makes this place seem just a tiny bit friendlier.

Since the cove was empty, they took the opportunity to drive Ady Gil's boat into the cove and get a look at it. No police or coast guard came (not that this was illegal), however there was an older woman walking down the street who stopped and stared, and then a car drove past, and he too stopped and stared and started talking to the woman. Not a sight they see everyday!

Early afternoon it started raining. No, it started pouring. Washington type rain, the kind that just doesn't stop. Since I am only here for a couple more weeks I didn't want to waste my time inside my room, so I decided to drive to Dolphin Base and check on the captives. I wasn't sure what to expect when I got there. The first time I went with Leah there were no trainers around. This time there were about 15 of them, and they were out around the pens feeding the dolphins. I'd heard that they've told people to leave before, but the worst they can do is tell you to go, and so I grabbed my camera and decided to see what would happen. They didn't seem too phased by my presence, at least not that I could tell. I was just one person though, and I wasn't being disruptive. I even said hello to one of the trainers as they walked by. In Japan, being polite goes a long way. The dolphins were much more active this time around, as they always are during feeding time. In order to keep the dolphins under their command the trainers pretty much starve them. The dolphins seemed to be trying to get the trainers' attention. Maybe they thought if they impressed them enough they'd finally get some fish. Wherever the trainers stood, the dolphins followed.

In one of the pens there were a few young trainers in the water with the dolphins. They would sign simple tricks, telling the dolphins to roll over or show their flukes, then they'd blow their whistle and the dolphin was given the tiny fish. I got the impression that these trainers were still learning (at Dolphin Base there are trainers, and people learning to become trainers). Whenever a dolphin performed a command the trainers shot an excited look at one another. They seemed to really enjoy working with the dolphins, and not just 'heartlessly' commanding them around like they're playing almighty dictator. Don't read too much into that statement though, it's just my observation and I could be wrong. After all, Taiij is the dolphin abuse capitol of Japan. Besides, most trainers feel the same way. They 'love' the animals they work with, and many claim to have deep friendships with them. If you visit SeaWorld you'll find a park full of trainers either in denial or grossly misled. I would bet that very few have a realistic concept of what captivity does to dolphins. This gives the hope that if given the proper education, these trainers will leave the business and join the fight against dolphin captivity as so many have done in the past, including many SeaWorld trainers in recent years.

After about 20 minutes of watching and filming I had to give up. My jeans were completely soaked, which didn't bother me given the situation, but I was having a difficult time keeping my camera dry in the now sideways rain.

And that was pretty much my day, as best I can tell. I wish I'd stop leaving these blog posts for so late at night...

1 comment:

  1. So incredibly sad, seeing these majestic mammals turned into beggars :(