Describing what happened last night, I knew, would be a difficult task…
Put simply, because it didn’t feel real. The whole event felt like something out of a movie. Like a scene where the main characters were under siege … And it had all the important elements and makings of a blockbuster; cops, undercover filming and muffled radio communication…
However, it was very, very real. Throughout the entire night, we were all subjected to countless emotions; worry, confusion, anger, fear, sadness, adrenaline and finally exhaustion. We never totally expected any of it to occur last night- but the fact that we were all present, ready and working together as an amazing team made a whole lot of difference… and we were able to capture the footage that we needed.
Yesterday afternoon was when it had all began. We had heard a few days previously, from a member of staff at Dolphin Base that they were contemplating moving Misty into another tank… we were unsure what to make of this statement, but vowed to be there if and when it happened.
After checking the harbour, visiting dolphin base and having lunch together yesterday, the boys; Andy, Tim (Save Japan Dolphins) and Simon went into Taiji to see if there was any sign to suggest that they might be moving Misty. Andy positioned himself in almost the only spot in Taiji to get a good look at Misty’s tank without being seen. He climbed a nearby hill, and hid amongst the undergrowth. Meanwhile, Simon and Tim returned to the hotel to retrieve a few Radio devices, in order to communicate with Andy. When Simon came up past our rooms and mentioned what was happening down at Taiji, I grabbed my camera and passport, and hurried to join them. We drove to a nearby lane, just around the corner from Dolphin Base… we knew that if the trainers were to spot us anywhere near the Dolphin Base as they attempted to transport Misty, that they would most likely abort their task. We wanted to be unseen, at least until we knew for sure that they were undertaking the operation.
We stayed in the car for some time, radioing back and forth with Andy. He announced that he had a visual on the tank, and that they had emptied it of a large amount of its’ water. The tank is barely knee deep, and as you can see in our footage, a portion of Misty’s body was out of water as he struggled to move around the algae-ridden tank floor… with the weight of his few hundred kilo body weighing upon his already fragile lungs… We made sure he was capturing everything on camera. The algae that we could see in the videos of Misty’s tank was exposed, and it is obvious that it has been building up for quite some time. A carer of Misty said that he had been in this tank for a month now… whether they cleaned the tank properly at all in that time is unknown, but unlikely due to its’ appearance.
Then came a call on the radio from Andy- the crane had been started up, and they were preparing to move Misty! We quickly called Libby from back at the hotel, and in no time at all she had joined us. We waited in anxious anticipation for a call from Andy- who at this point was the only person with a visual of Dolphin Base- who would tell us when to take action.
Then, only minutes later, the call came. We immediately started up the car, and drove just around the corner to Dolphin Base. We quickly discovered that we were unable to get a good visual on the activity from around the back, though we did see that those attempting to manoeuvre the crane and harnesses were having difficulty. We quickly re-grouped back at the car, and drove it around the corner once more… all the while getting frequent updates from Andy who was still in sight of the tank- capturing all movement.
We decided to split up. We also noticed the police were patrolling the area. Those at the dolphin base knew exactly how much widespread global attention that Misty is receiving at the moment, they did not want the footage of his tank to be seen. Of course, everything that we were doing was completely compliant with the law… we were merely taking photos in a public place. Even the police only a few days ago agreed that this is not illegal. However, we were not going to take any chances and did not want to be interfered with- we wanted to get the footage… and to show it to the world.
Libby and myself decided to climb a staircase of a nearby hotel of about 8 storeys… this gave us a clear view of Dolphin Base and the nearby areas. Tim and Simon continued to monitor the area on foot. As Libby and I quickly made our way around the back of the hotel to the staircase, we saw police with torches pacing around Dolphin Base. We had underestimated just how badly they did not want everyone to see this footage. It was not long before they had gone, and we were swiftly climbing the stairs to the very top… we were doused in shadow, and managed to get up completely unseen.
After a few minutes, we noticed that the dark of night had completely taken over, and our view of the tanks and surrounding areas became harder to focus upon. Spotlight which lit up the trainers’ activities helped us to see what was going on, and we could see everything. They finally loaded Misty onto the back of the truck, and transported him only a few hundred metres to the other side of Dolphin Base, where he was loaded into one of the other tanks.
Some people have been questioning us as to whether we can verify that Misty was indeed moved.
We saw Misty’s body being taken from his tank and transported around the other side of Dolphin Base in the back of the truck. We saw a spotlight light up the crane, and heard the movements behind the large barricades. We then saw the empty truck return from around the back of the Dolphin Base to its’ original parked position near Misty’s old tank… we are one hundred per cent sure that Misty is now in another tank at Dolphin Base, and will verify the exact tank shortly.
We then realised that there was not much else that could be seen from where we were, as the trainers were now working under the cover of almost complete darkness from our view. We made our way back down to the car, where we met up with the others who we had been communicating with the entire time… We then sat together and de-briefed each other on everything we saw and experienced…
The night was not over yet however… after returning from a long and information filled dinner with everyone, we knew that we had a long night ahead of us to edit and compile the footage that we’d gained that night… We spent almost all night working on the video, which we knew had to be sent online asap… Needless to say we all had a virtually sleepless night. We greeted the morning absolutely exhausted and emotionally drained- but with the knowledge that what we had just witnessed hours previous would now be seen by thousands more…
Of course, it is not a complete win or success story, and any one of us here in Taiji will be the first to second that. But the footage we gained last night highlights a few important things.
-The response from those of you following these blogs, facebooks and youtube videos CAN make a change… It is only because of the increased pressure that you all applied to the Dolphin Base that this was at all possible.
-Misty is still suffering from her lung infection- that we cannot deny. There has not been any noticeable signs whatsoever of a recovery. Therefore, we can put the re-location purely down to the public outcry and constant pressure.
-Misty is now in a cleaner tank. Anyone in their right mind can view the footage of Misty’s old tank and completely agree that it was unsanitary- by anyone’s standards. It does not take a scientist to see that. The fact that this sick dolphin has been in this tank now for over a month is sickening… no wonder why he has not made any signs of recovery. Misty is also now accompanied by other bottlenose dolphins. Although these tanks are ridiculously small to be housing the amount of dolphins that they do, it will no doubt be beneficial for Misty to now have some kind of mental and physical stimulation- which is absolutely imperative for a dolphin under rehabilitation…
The widespread awareness of ‘Misty the Dolphin’ has now changed its’ tune… there is now a huge outcry for those dolphins that are in these enclosures. People have become aware of an underlying issue of all marine mammal parks… and can all see the inhumane way in which these dolphins are kept. This in itself is something that we here are counting as a victory. Our objective here is to spread the awareness of the issues here in Taiji, to the world.
And through these videos, thousands more people worldwide are captivated by the story of ‘Misty the Dolphin’, the captivity trade here in Taiji, and the slaughter itself.
Misty’s story is not over however, in fact it is far from it. Along with the other 40 or so dolphins that are being held captive at Dolphin Base, Misty is now facing a lifetime of imprisonment… Only the spread of awareness will be their hope for freedom. You, are their hope for freedom.
In the early hours of this morning, we came up with something which I have been thinking about non-stop all day;
Last night shows the difference that people can make in only 5 days…
Imagine what we can achieve in 10…
To see the video footage that we captured last night, have a look at the video below.
And with that, I will leave you with the fantastic news that today was once again slaughter-free! This is 15 days in a row now… we will be there in Taiji monitoring them every single morning. It’s time to make a change.
Check out my newest Video Blog, which highlights this morning’s drive to Taiji Harbour… As you can tell we were all pretty exhausted after a long night of video editing!
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Thankyou everyone for your continued support, and positive feedback! We all really appreciate it!
On the path to protect,