Power Through Innocence

One thing is certain here in Taiji… every single day, you will encounter something unexpected. Whether this comes in the form of something tragic or something hopeful… you can be sure that when you awake in the morning here, your day will be like none other you’ve had previous.

Today was a prime example of this for us here in Taiji…

We rounded the corner of Taiji Harbour just after 6am this morning, just as the two dozen or so dolphin hunters were preparing their boats for a morning at sea- with projected stormy weather remaining far out on the horizon, the migrating dolphin pods travelling past the waters of Taiji would be in jeopardy once more. It wasn’t too long before we spotted the ‘banger boats’ forming a militant line behind an unsuspecting pod of Risso’s dolphins. The drive from out at sea to the small inlet of Taiji was relatively quick this morning, so Rosie and myself raced down to the cove to park our car, before beginning the short but steep trek up a neighbouring cliff to the dreaded ‘killing cove’ of Taiji.

We barely made it a few hundred metres away from the carpark at the larger cove before I spotted two people on the cold, stony shores of the cove… I quickly identified them as being westerners, so I promptly made my way down to introduce myself, and to find out how and why they came to be here in Taiji. I approached the man closest to me, wearing a sky blue jumper, to my immediate surprise- it wasn’t a ‘man’ at all, but a young boy… After introducing myself to him, I found out that he is just 14 years old… He and his father had heard of the dolphin slaughter here in Taiji through the infamous documentary- they both travelled here to witness the slaughter first-hand. I quickly found out that Ben (the young boy) was a musician, and had come to the cove not only to spread awareness, but to somehow utilise his talents to make a difference here in a unique way… I offered to show the father and son duo around the areas we would usually monitor during a slaughter, all the while learning about their journey in coming to Japan.

Soon after, the four of us settled ourselves atop the neighbouring cliff, watching the drive hunt proceed before our eyes…

Once the dolphin hunters had successfully forced the 8 Risso’s dolphins (including 3 juveniles) into the Taiji Harbour area, things suddenly took an unexpected turn…

The Risso’s dolphins began to fight back!
There was nothing that the dolphin hunters could do to contain the pod of dolphins- and as soon as it seemed as though the pods’ fate was sealed, they would jump a net, swim under a banger boat and speed off toward safety right under the noses of the hunters… If it weren’t for the topography of the area leading up to the cove (we nickname it ‘the funnel’- a long trench of deep water surrounded by jagged rocks and reef, forming an underwater pathway directly into the cove)… Once the dolphins are in this ‘funnel’, there is very little chance that they will ever swim free again. Today, however, it seemed as though the Risso’s dolphins just would not give up- the hunters persevered with their frantic and irritated chase for hours… At one point, a helicopter flew overhead in circles around the drive hunt, as well as a large Coast Guard vessel patrolling waters nearby- we are convinced that the authorities and hunters thought that us activists had something to do with the dolphins’ refusal to enter the cove… however, we were just as astounded!

In a moment that I will never forget, and one of the most severe and poignant contrasts I will ever set my eyes upon, Ben got up (during the drive) and played a song on guitar… His incredible talent, coupled by the innocence exuded by his young age made for an incredible scene.

 

On one hand, you have Ben- still a child in his own right, playing beautifully haunting music with such innocent and well meant intentions, and you have the sounds of the hunters madly beating away at their metal poles directly behind him, trying to force the pod of dolphins to their imminent deaths… The scene before me was so powerful it actually overwhelmed me quite a lot.

 

 

After another hour or so, the hunters managed to tire the pod out completely- after a 6 hour gallant fight… They were herded into the killing cove like so many before them…

Seeing Ben at the cove today gave me just that little bit more hope for the futures of generations to come… the message of marine conservation, and in particular- compassion for other living things- is living through and gaining strength amongst the youth of the world. I desperately hope that it will be this up and coming new generation of leaders that will reverse and mend the mistakes of the past…

I thought it fitting that I bring you guys the scenes of the drive this morning through the image of Ben playing his song… as you listen, you can feel the innocent but passionate hope for a brighter future. To read a short article that Ben wrote about his journey to Taiji, head to this site. Please watch the video below to see Ben’s powerful message through his amazing talent.

For those of you who want to help make a difference and have a hand at stopping the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, click here! Also- to help me in my mission to give a voice to the youth of the world, read all about my new Youth Projecttitled ‘In Our Hands’ and PLEASE get involved! (I will have a very exciting update about the project coming within the next few days so stay tuned!!)

You can follow my Facebook for more updates from Taiji and my journey… Also email me at pathtoprotect@hotmail.com with any comments or questions!
Thanks again for all the support guys,

On the path to protect,
Nicole.

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7 comments

  1. LOVE YOU ALL!!! xoxoxoxox SO SORRY what you have to bear witness to!! We WILL NEVER Stop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  3. How do you propose to make the Japanese people aware of the situation? They LOVE the dolphin shows that buy the dolphins and make the hunters rich, but few of them have any idea where they come from or what kind of lives they lead in captivity.
    Do you have a Japanese version of this site?

    All these foreigners visiting Taiji are having no effect on the hunters themselves, except to make them more determined to maintain their highly remunerative way of life, and even to increase the tourist income of the town as a whole.
    You could have more effect on the dolphin trade by bringing an end to imports to and captivity in YOUR country.
    But I’m a nobody. You don’t need to listen to me.

    Ask Ric 0’Barry: http://savejapandolphins.org/blog/post/ric-obarry-and-save-japan-dolphins-go-live-in-taiji.
    ====
    “Ric reminded viewers that we must never forget: it is the money from the captive dolphin trade that fuels the killing of dolphins here in Taiji. The dolphin hunters will continue to defend their cruel actions so long as the money flow from the captivity industry continues. When the money flow stops, they will walk away.

    Spread the word, speak out and speak up—don’t buy a ticket!”
    ====
    Ric should know!

    1. I am working on getting different translations of the site up and running at the moment…
      By being in Taiji, we keep international attention, exposure, awareness and public pressure on the dolphin slaughter as well as the captivity industry- we expose those facilities that buy the captives from Taiji (otherwise, we wouldn’t know for certain where they go..)
      As well as this, we work with activists who ARE working to end the captivity industry in their own countries, and almost every single person that goes to Taiji as a volunteer works in their own country/local area on local issues for most of the year when they return home (many of these issues involve captivity). I myself am heavily involved in campaigning for the protection of sharks, turtles, dugongs and the Great Barrier Reef in my home country, Australia. I also spread the word about the captivity industry.
      It is part of Japanese character to not ‘stand up’ and rise against anything that they may oppose- particularly if it is endorsed by the Japanese Government. That is why we travel to Japan. If there was a huge movement made by the Japanese Public against the slaughter- I am almost certain that the ‘foreigners’ would not need to be there. Unfortunately this is quite unlikely until we get the word out in Japan enough for people to start coming and seeing what happens themselves. And that is beginning to happen- we have noticed a huge rise in public awareness in Japan… And we also do not spend one dollar of our money in Taiji so as to not boost the economy of the town- we stay a town or two away. Boycotting the whole of Japan/all of Japanese products will not work- it is the town of Taiji (namely, the 30 or so dolphin hunters) and the associated businesses of the hunt that are the problem there.

      But I thank you for your interest and input into the issue. Please let me know if you are currently making efforts to protect a local area or spread awareness about a certain issue in regards to the environment and I will do my best to give you support.
      Also, please read this site thoroughly and find out exactly what I do and stand for before making assumptions after reading one post if that is the case.

      Thank you once again, though. 🙂
      Nic

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