Sunday, December 18, 2011

Taiji Take Two: The Raid

Part one, taken from official Save Japan Dolphins blog:

Today was, and will probably always be, the longest and hardest day of my life.  Last week we saw five slaughters in six days.  The dolphin killers of Taiji took yesterday (Saturday) off, so we had one day of peace, but today they were right back at it.  My hopes were soaring high when we spotted several banger boats headed back in this morning, but suddenly the boats turned and sped off to meet others that had apparently located a pod of striped dolphins.
From the lookout on Takababe Mountain, I could see that this pod still had a lot of energy, despite being chased towards the shores of Taiji.  Unlike the striped dolphins caught a few days ago that were all too exhausted to panic in the shallow Cove, these ones were quickly frightened by their ever-tightening world.  The fishermen had already prepared nets in the Cove to try and keep the dolphins from throwing themselves out of the water and getting stuck on the rocks, but it made no difference.  Once the final net was drawn, terror broke out amongst the dolphins.  Skiffs tried to position themselves between the rocks and dolphins, and divers sat on the rocks to push and kick the dolphins that slammed their bodies into the wall, tearing their skin open and staining the water with blood.  One dolphin made a mad dash into the net and became entangled, wrapping itself tighter and tighter as it thrashed, trying to get a desperately needed breath of air.  A diver jumped in to set it free, knowing we were watching with our cameras.  The chaos ensued for what felt like an eternity, and we tried in vain to put our cameras between the situation and us, hoping to make it seem less real and therefore easier to document.  I later had to clean the dried salt off of my camera from all the tears that had dripped down the view screen.


Finally the skiffs were able to push the frightened dolphins underneath the tarps.  They could hide the sight of what happened next from our eyes, but we could hear everything.  The 34 or so dolphins continued to thrash in the shallow water of the Cove.  Blood seeped into our view.  After what felt like forever, the thrashing began to be reduced, and finally ended altogether.  The dolphins were all dead, having suffered right up to the very end.  I felt dead inside.  I thought it was over, until I heard a loud thud, followed by another, and another.  The fishermen were tossing the dolphins' bodies into skiff to transport them to the slaughterhouse.  I have never been affected by a sound so much in my life.  This is a day that will be with me until the day I die.

 

Part two:

After watching the slaughter, Nicole and I went back to our hotel, still very upset. A police van followed us the whole way from Taiji, but there's nothing new there. I ran to my room for two seconds to drop off my camera bag, and then headed back to the lobby to hang out with Nic for a half hour until her train arrived. I walked into the lobby and found a ton of police, and they wouldn't let me upstairs to Nicole's room, or leave the lobby for that matter. I sat down and started sending out a quick message on my phone so someone would know something was up, but apparently that wasn't ok, either. I had no idea what was going on, and no one spoke English. I kept asking for our uniform police and they just kept saying no. I was already so upset by the so very recent slaughter, and this wasn't helping anything. I thought I was going to pass out, or have a mental breakdown, or spontaneously combust or something. They kept saying my name over and over again, but I had no clue what it was in reference to. I knew I'd done nothing illegal, but I still had to keep talking myself down. Finally, someone who did speak English came downstairs and explained that they had a warrant to search through all of our belonging, "because of our friendship with Erwin", the Sea Shepherd volunteer who was arrested a couple days ago. So they showed me the warrant, which was of course in Japanese, and I led ten of them to my tiny room. They looked through my belongings, my computer files, my emails, my camera memory cards, everything. They even frisked me. During this time Nicole was free to go catch her train, but instead of getting to walk with her to the train station, I could only hug her quickly in my room while surrounded by police, one of which was filming the whole thing. As soon as I got to see her, I lost it again. The stress of today was just absolutely insane.

Then they said they had a warrant to search my car, and they started looking under the hood and opening the gas tank, apparently looking for drugs. What? Why would you suspect I had drugs? And what did that have to do with Erwin? And if I DID have drugs, why would I put them in my gas tank??

After that it was over, for me, but they still wouldn't let me talk with the others, and I had no idea if they'd planned to make any arrests. At the end of the day none of us were taken in, however they did confiscate all of Sea Shepherds computers, hard drives and SD cards.

And that my friends, was my day. We're at 6 slaughters in 8 days. Here's hoping we get some much needed rest tomorrow.

6 comments:

  1. So sorry you have to go through all this, all power to you. Thank you for doing what you do. You are amazing. Love and Hugs X

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  2. Heather, Heather, Heather........ My goodness darling....I know all of us were absolutely astonished hearing this from our computers, wondering, fearing and confused.

    From the tragedy in the Cove to this. Sending you strength, love and hugs.

    Kelli Stanko

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  3. Wow! I know your BLOG, possibly right now is being watched! This is tragic that the police have to ACT AGGRESSIVELY about taking pics! You watch, I bet they RELEASE Erwin on the 23rd just in time for him to catch his flight, if that is when he is leaving! You and others have ALWAYS followed the LAWS in Japan. This was UNCALLED for IMO! Stay Safe!

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  4. I applaud you & the other guardians for your bravery...I am ashamed to be human...

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  5. Thank you thank you thank you! I don't know any of u but I love you all... it is hard from here not to constantly think about what happens there I cannot even imagine the horror or exhaustion of it, it must be so hard. I truly will never understand how such greed and cruelty exists but I pray constantly for you and the end of the slaughter of our fellows mammals of the seas. Thank you.

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  6. Thank you thank you thank you! I don't know any of u but I love you all... it is hard from here not to constantly think about what happens there I cannot even imagine the horror or exhaustion of it, it must be so hard. I truly will never understand how such greed and cruelty exists but I pray constantly for you and the end of the slaughter of our fellows mammals of the seas. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete