A Hard Day in Taiji…

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At 12 noon today, all of us Cove Guardians gathered at the sea wall at the beach of the Cove in silence… today was a hard day for us all- one of the hardest I have had here. Witnessing the lives lost, the families torn apart, the desperation and determination of the dolphins has been an emotional rollercoaster once again- with images that will last a lifetime… I will never forget each and every family of dolphins that are driven into that cove. Some days are different to others- some days you can experience total sadness, some days are helplessness… today we had a glint of hope. I will always remember this family as one of the most determined pods I have ever seen. These dolphins fought to the very end.

The morning started with the always bad news, that the harbour was empty of banger boats… We all split up into different directions- and stood watch at different areas of Taiji. Tim and Jim (Save Japan Dolphins) went straight to the promontory to monitor the horizon for banger boats in formation, Libby, myself and Sabs went to the Mountain Pass to be there as they drove a pod into the harbour, and Tim and Rhiannon were up on Tsunami Hill, ready to capture the dolphin hunters driving the pod straight into the cove…

It was a tense wait- as we were perplexed at the decision of the dolphin hunters to head out this morning… As far as the eye could see out on the horizon, the strong winds were creating a huge amount of white caps on the surface. Then, Tim radioed in from the promontory, confirming that the banger boats were in formation, driving the pod straight toward Taiji Harbour.

As they came by the mountain pass, it was really difficult to see anything on the surface over all the white caps- but it soon became apparent that this pod were putting up a huge fight! The banger boats were turning in all different directions, backing up constantly and using ‘slap paddles’ to heard this pod. It was obvious that it just did not want to go effortlessly. The determination of the dolphins was amazing, the glimmers of hope every few minutes that the pod had escaped came and went… and we all shared the same horrible sinking feeling as the banger boats reached the mouth of the Cove…

We drove straight to the Cove, and arrived just as they were driving them directly into the killing cove. We all watched in horror as we saw some of the dolphins jumping up onto the jagged rocks in a desperate bid for freedom- blood trailing into the water behind them… many attained huge gashes and cuts covering their entire bodies… they were in pain, stressed and disorientated.

As I reached the top of ‘Glenda’s Hill’ and peered down into the killing cove, I identified them quickly as Striped dolphins. I have come to notice a difference between the Striped dolphins in comparison to the remainding species caught and killed in the cove… Striped dolphins are particularly resistant, and fight particularly hard against the hunters’ efforts to herd and kill them. I have predominately noticed this when watching them trying to escape the nets they are trapped in. Every single time Striped dolphins have been herded into the Cove, they always seem to try and swim straight at the nets- some managing to get half way over, some getting trapped in the process. I will never forget the sight of a tiny little baby dolphin getting trapped, separated from its mother then dragged by the tail by humans under the tarpaulins to be slaughtered… every time I see Striped dolphins, I get these constant flashbacks.

However, today, something miraculous happened. It was so quick, I couldn’t even keep up with what occurred- it was like a blur. All of a sudden, as the family were swimming slow circles around the killing cove, something snapped in the mind of one of the dolphins- and it darted as fast as it could straight toward the nets… its’ speed and power enabled it to totally clear the net! Not even half a second later, a second dolphin followed and swam at the net… once again clearing it.

We were completely shocked and could not believe what we had just seen! We got a radio call instantly from Libby back down at the cove, who was watching what was going on… Out of nowhere it seemed, she saw two dolphins darting over the net. One dolphin swam at the mouth of the cove, and escaped… it was not seen again. The other dolphin in the confusion, swam directly toward the beach of the cove, but turned and landed on top of rocks… It thrashed for a small amount of time, then stopped moving. After realising what had happened, the dolphin hunters drove a skiff straight to the dolphin, and secured it to the side of the boat, and drove it straight to the killing cove. We saw the skiff round the corner with the dolphin over the side… we do not know for sure if it had killed itself on the rocks, or whether it was still fighting for its’ life before being killed within minutes by humans…

It really depends on its’ age, role in its’ family pod, and the level of stress and trauma it is currently in as to whether it will survive for much longer out in the wild on its’ own… It is very likely that it will not stray very far from Taiji now… it may just circle the area looking for its’ family… However, Striped dolphins are known to sometimes join onto pods of dolphins from other species when they have been isolated- there have been sightings of lone Striped dolphins joining pods of Risso’s as well as Bottlenose dolphin families. There is quite a large chance that it will not make it on its’ own, however we can only hope that it does find its way out to the open ocean from where it came, and that it is welcomed by another family…

Merely minutes after this occurred, we saw at least five or six dolphins once again beaching themselves onto rocks, cutting up their bodies whilst trying to flee from human grasp… This is one of the hardest things to watch, as the dolphins cry out in desperation- their high-pitched sounds of fear and pain echoing off the walls of the killing cove… it is a sound that can be heard from all over the area.

The dolphins were driven straight under the tarps very quickly after all of this- it was plain to see that the dolphin hunters did not want a repeat of the escaped dolphin… after taking two small juveniles out of the cove on the sides of banger boats toward Taiji Harbour to be transported, they started to slaughter. The sounds of thrashing reverberated from the cliff face… we all stood in silence on top of that hill- looking down at the stirring water, unable to see the source of the noise… Sometimes, hearing the noise without seeing anything is almost as bad. You know what is happening down there… The silence comes within 20 minutes to half an hour, an eerie silence that allows the sounds of the thrashing water to ring in everyone’s ears…

The bodies of 25-30 or so dolphins were carted off straight to the gutting barge, which poured out what looked like thousands of litres of blood, turning the seas as bright red as the killing cove…

After everything had finished, and the dolphin hunters were on their way to the slaughterhouse to cut up their new ‘catch’, we all came together from our various points of monitoring down to the cove. We looked out to the ocean before us, wondering what would become of the lone dolphin that escaped… and wondering what tomorrow will bring.

Please watch the video below- this is footage from today’s slaughter… Of the dolphins’ escape, the beached dolphins on rocks, and some horrific sights from under the tarps of the killing cove…

Today was an incredibly hard day for us Cove Guardians here in Taiji… I would like to take this opportunity though to send my prayers to those who have also had a day of loss and despair… Flash flooding has hit my home country in a huge way today- totally destroying towns in Northern New South Wales and Queensland, Australia- where I have lived a lot of my life… I would like to take this time to let everyone in these areas know that I am thinking about them, and that I hope you will get some reprieve over the next few days… Most of my family and friends live in these affected areas, so I am sending my love your way, and I hope you are all safe. For those of you who have lost belongings, cars, homes… please think of the little dolphin who looked death in the face today, and escaped over those nets and be as courageous as it was, and as hopeful as we are here, praying for its’ survival.

If you would like to help me from wherever you are in the world, please get involved in my Youth Project (more information on my blog page ‘youth project’) which will aim to create positive media awareness worldwide.

Don’t forget to keep sending in your questions to pathtoprotect@hotmail.com for me to answer in my video blogs! I had a bit of technical difficulty this afternoon so I wasn’t able to film my next video blog- however stay tuned as there will definitely be one posted up tomorrow! I will be answering questions I have received over the last few days or so…

You can follow my videos here on this blogpage (which I will continue to update every day) as well as my Youtube Channel
Also, don’t forget to add me as a friend on Facebook if you haven’t yet- for regular updates, photos, information and videos from the Cove.

If you want to help: Please help us put pressure upon the Japanese government and embassys worldwide- let them know that you oppose the slaughter by calling and emailing.

Thankyou everyone for your continued support, and positive feedback! We all really appreciate it!
On the path to protect,
Nicole.

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8 comments

  1. makes me sick to my stomach how can they be so heartless

    the dolphins are obviously so intelligent and know…I could cry a river

    …..”please think of the little dolphin who looked death in the face today, and escaped over those nets”” we will do nicole that dolphin has shown us all never to give up this fight

    x

  2. Dear Nicole
    It must be so hard for you seeing all these beautiful delphins being slaughtered so brutely and the flooding in your country!
    Be strong girl!
    Am thinking of you and keep up the good work!

  3. Such a moving report of today, it almost feels as though I am there. Each time I read about a slaughter I feel winded; like I have been punched in the stomach. But this pain gives me the determination needed to stop this atrocity. We will never give up fighting for these dolphins. Thank you for everything you guys are doing. You are all true heroes.

  4. Thank you for everything you do. It is making a difference. I email and protested at the Atlanta Japanese Consulate, but you are there on the front lines, and I want to thank you and send you strength for the very difficult work of watching what you cannot stop. I do believe that we will see more and more dolphins escape. Send them the knowing of how to do that.

  5. What I do not understand is all the anger that the world holds, I mean they must be angry people to commit such crimes against the Dolphins day after day. Why is that as humans, we would rather be angry and hurtful rather than take the higher ground and do what is truly right? Think about it. As I understand it, the Japanese government finances the fisherman. Who gets the money from the Dolphins taken into captivity? If it is the government, why are the Japanese people so afraid to speak out more, if not the government, where is all this money going. Who is eating this mercury poisoned meat? Where does it all go? Are they holding it in warehouses just to finance a small village? They care about 20 something fisherman and their families but not the people eating the contaminated meat. The majority of people that the Sea Shepherd reps. talk to, do not want the Dolphin slaughter to continue. Why is it so hard to get it to stop? It is just so sad that this is happening when the world is speaking out against it. Stay strong Nicole. And again thank you for all you do.

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