Thursday, January 5, 2012

Taiji Take Two: 2012 Begins, 40 Lives End

When I woke up this morning it had been two weeks since the dolphin killers had last gone to work, and two weeks since I saw dolphins slaughtered in the Cove.  The holiday break ended today though, and the fishermen did not hesitate to make up for the lost time.  The banger boats had only been out for about half an hour before spotting dolphins.  Two boats began herding this pod, while others continued to search for dolphins on the horizon.  It seems the two boats lost interest in this pod, perhaps because of it's small size or perhaps their still avoiding Risso's dolphins, but regardless of the reason, these dolphins were not pursued.  Our relief did not last though – it wasn't long before they located a much larger pod and began to drive it towards shore.  According to the fishermen (conveyed to us by the police), it was a pod of approximately 200 striped dolphins.  My heart stopped.

Driving a pod of this scale using only twelve boats must be next to impossible, so we were not surprised (although still somewhat relieved) when we saw nowhere near that many dolphins being pushed toward the harbor entrance.  Many had escaped, and the pod was now about 40-45 individuals.  This was one of the largest pods I have seen here in Taiji.
The boats slowly drove the dolphins towards the Cove, and divers lined the rocks, ready to intervene if and when the panic-prone dolphins entangled themselves in the nets or threw their bodies against the rocks in an attempt to flee.  Because the pod was so large, the fishermen were unable to push them all into the killing Cove (out of the range of our eyes and cameras) at once, and for a while there were dolphins cordoned off in three different sections of the Cove.  One lone dolphin swam between the outer nets while its family members were being slaughtered; watching, listening, and waiting.  After those dolphins already under the tarps were either killed or otherwise restrained, the fishermen opened the inside nets so they could drive the remaining individuals to their death.  The final lone dolphin was not cooperating with the skiffs and resisted swimming towards the now bloody beach.  A diver approached the dolphin and when it tried to flee, he grabbed hold of it.  The dolphin was clearly extremely stressed by this contact and made a mad dash towards its family, under the tarps and out of our sight, towing the diver the entire way.  His hand was placed over the dolphin's blowhole, and I wondered if he was trying to keep it submerged and out of our sight.

There was little more to be seen, but we could hear the dolphins still thrashing on the beach.  One dolphin managed to escape, and we could see its body lying on the bottom of the Cove.  It was too injured to come up for a much needed breath of air, and while we watched from high above, this little dolphin died, either drowning or from the extensive injuries inflicted by the dolphin killers.

The loud 'thud' of dolphin bodies being tossed into the skiffs filled the air.  As the first loaded skiff departed to deliver the bodies to the slaughterhouse, a fishermen noticed the dead dolphin in the water.  A diver came to collect it, and more divers began searching for any other potentially escaped dolphins that they had missed.

Blood tainted the blue waters of the Cove.

Peace has ended here in Taiji, and it is my wish for 2012 that we get it back, once and for all.


Here is a beautiful poem I saw shared today in response to their unnecessary deaths:

“A Hopi Prayer”

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry; 
I am not there, I did not die.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Heather, not hearing from you after a few weeks revealed no news is good news! And now after two weeks of rest the blood is spilled once again all for a tainted soul to be consumed by the earths predator; man. That prayer at the end I will keep it with me forever....