Taiji, Japan

Risso’s in Ruins

The rollercoaster continues here in Taiji… Tuesday morning we awoke to one of my favourite sights here in Taiji- a thunderstorm!

Wednesday was not so pleasant, as we bore witness to yet another slaughter within the killing cove, this time, it was a pod of Risso’s Dolphins that had the fatal bad luck of swimming past Taiji, Japan.

The boats left Taiji Harbour just before sunset, and as we would any other dolphin hunting day in Taiji, we set out to monitor their movements. We headed for one of Taiji’s headlands, we nickname the ‘promontory’. This site was once used as a lookout station for whaling in the area, now it is used to help end the destruction in our oceans.

It was only a few short hours into our wait that we noticed the ‘banger’ boats encircling a pod of dolphins, and begin to drive them toward the town of Taiji. During a drive, the atmosphere tightens around us, and all goes silent except for the odd comment on what we see out on the horizon…


The banger boats kept driving, and neared the headland that we had stationed ourselves on. Then, suddenly, we noticed that the pod of dolphins that the boats were chasing had split, and 8 Risso’s Dolphins darted ahead of the larger pod behind. A few banger boats focused on driving the smaller portion of the pod, whilst the remaining majority of boats continued to try and force the larger pod toward Taiji- hours later, those banger boats would fail in their mission as the dolphins continued to outsmart them- those dolphins swam free…

But for the 8 dolphins that were being chased down by fast paced boats, their fate wouldn’t be so fortunate.

After a tireless fight against the dolphin killers that were relying on the terror ensued from their engines and noise from their ‘banging poles’ to drive the dolphins, the pod became trapped and netted off within the killing cove after hours of struggle. Amongst the pod were two very young dolphins, one was just a newborn and still sported ‘birth rings’ along its’ body.

After their struggle, which stretched out over at least four hours, the pod were herded into the killing cove. This is when we see the ‘real’ reason for the slaughter… In come the dolphin trainers.

Two Risso’s dolphins were taken from the pod while they saw their family members being slaughtered in front of them. They were transferred into sea pens at Taiji Harbour, by trainers who work at Dolphin Resort Hotel in Taiji- a facility that profits by capturing and selling dolphins from the Taiji slaughters. This is the sole reason that these dolphins were herded into the killing cove… not for the four dolphins that the hunters kept to slaughter for meat (which will only fetch them up to about $600 per dolphin), but for the tens of thousands of dollars that the Fisheries Union ‘earns’ for capturing the other two. Herein lies one of the many dire problems surrounding the captive marine mammal industry.

Possibly the most horrible part of the day, was that the dolphin killers deemed the two smallest dolphins not profitable enough to slaughter, so they were dumped out at sea to fend for themselves, without the protection of their pod or food from their mothers… This is no display of compassion, as the dolphin killers have a set quota of dolphins that they have to adhere to, so to them, slaughtering and keeping a calf for meat would be cutting the profits by up to ten times. A Risso’s dolphin calf will be born at about 50kgs, they can reach weights of up to 450-500kgs. There is nothing humane, sustainable or traditional about this practice, it is simply about profit and profit alone.

Since Wednesday’s slaughter, we have had three dolphin hunt-free days here in Taiji, where we all enjoyed a much needed relief from the environmental crimes that ensue from the dolphin hunts. However, the captive facilities become a major focal point on these days, and we monitor these areas in order to expose what goes on ‘behind the closed doors’ of the captive trade. People need to know the truth when it comes to supporting captive dolphin facilities.

On Thursday afternoon, I freedived at the Cove. It is a public beach up until the netted area, so there wasn’t anything that the police could do but watch.

I sat on the bottom of the seafloor amongst the sea cucumbers and mullets zooming around and looked up at the wall of netting surrounding me, under about 4m of water. That thick and heavy net gave me the most horrible feeling- seeing the cove from the dolphins’ point of view was harrowing to say the least. I won’t forget that sight for a long time- it made me feel sick to my stomach but gave me even more of an insight into the terror that these dolphins face whilst being cornered by these walls of death.

Over the past three days since the last slaughter in Taiji, we have continued to observe the dolphin killers leave Taiji Harbour and return with nothing! We’re hoping for many more blue days in the cove to come!

Educate yourself on what’s going on in our oceans and make your voice heard! We will be updating live from the cove most days- and you can keep updated on the official Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians’ Facebook Page, Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian Official Reports, or follow @seashepherd and #tweet4taiji on Twitter!

I just want to thank everyone that has shown their support over the last few weeks- I really appreciate it and it makes being here in Taiji a lot easier!

Nicole.

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Captivity Kills

A statement that shocks many when hearing it for the first time. But, alas, its’ truth resonates to the very core, and there is no place where this fact is more evident than here in Taiji.

No aquarium, no tank in marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal.

-Jacques Yves Cousteau

If there was no captivity industry connected to this town, there would be no bloodshed within the Cove. The captivity industry fuels this slaughter. Here in Taiji, there are numerous facilities that throw their money the way of the slaughter, and we’re not just talking about loose change. The dolphin trainers- however much they urge that they ‘love’ dolphins- still continue to enter the killing cove during most slaughters, selecting the ‘prettiest’ dolphins to enslave, whilst their families are slaughtered around them.

The past few days here in Taiji have been hunt-free! Over the weekend, Taiji held its’ annual ‘whale festival’, which celebrates Taiji’s involvement in whaling and dolphin killing industries. On these days, we are able to spend more time monitoring these above mentioned captive facilities- most of which urge tourists to spend money to watch these dolphin shows, and swim with these animals that have been taken from the wild, usually in their very early years, and forced to learn tricks in order to obtain the very basic necessity of life- food.

Why mankind feels as though these dolphins should be performing day after day in order to survive, in the meantime helping to line the pockets of heartless individuals with considerable amounts of money is beyond me- luckily, though, the tide is turning, and many are waking up to the complete farce that is the captive dolphin trade. Many claim that these shows display the intelligence of these animals to a world that doesn’t quite understand the capacity of the marine mammal brain. They could not be further from the truth.

This referred ‘intelligence’ is only based upon what humans consider as trivially entertaining. These dolphins are merely learning tricks that humans have invented, using signals designed by humans that do not allow for any kind of responsive communication (the use of hand signals). These shows are nothing more than a display of human dominance and the outside physical appearance of these animals is the basic extent to which these shows provide accurate educational information. The notion of keeping marine mammals captive is outdated and frankly, no longer called for in a society that has come to learn of the incredibly intricate brains of these creatures.

Put simply, any of these facilities that house dolphins for display, swim with programs or breeding purposes are there for one reason- to make money. For as long as the captive industry holds dolphins within their walls, there is a need for these companies to take animals from the wild- to replenish the genetic diversity and maintain ‘healthy’ breeding programs. For as long as dolphins are being taken from the wild, there will be dolphin slaughters. It’s as simple as that. Here is a video I put together of the latest drive hunt here in Taiji;

So, I emphasize the need not to support the captive dolphin industry. If you want to encounter a dolphin- go and see one in the wild. If you can’t get to the ocean, well that’s just too bad. Dolphins (or any species of animal) shouldn’t have to be trucked, flown, ferried and kept in the same small tank for years on end just because it’s more convenient for humans to see them there.

It’s not hard not to buy a ticket, but it is impossible to bring back the hundreds of thousands of dolphins and small whales that have perished worldwide at the hands of the captive dolphin trade.

I’d also like to point out, that it is not due to these animals having a high sense of intelligence that raises the argument that they need not be slaughtered- it is due to the unnecessary cruelty and capture of the dolphins and the destruction to the ocean that it ensues. My passion lies with ocean conservation, and I am a strong believer in standing up for what you are most passionate about to achieve the most successful results. Meanwhile I make my best conscious effort not to contribute to other cruel industries in this world as well as to shed light on them. Unfortunately, I learn of more every single day.

Luckily, humans possess the ability to change our ways, we have the power to stand up and say ‘no more’ and we have the compassion embedded deep within our souls to indicate to us that we are doing the right thing by not supporting cruelty and environmental destruction. For, after all, it is the future generations of humankind that will be thanking us for taking a stand and speaking up, and it is definitely not just Taiji that needs to change… every single one of us do.

If we go on the way we have, the fault is our greed and if we are not willing to change, we will disappear from the face of the globe, to be replaced by the insect.
-Jacques Yves Cousteau

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Educate yourself on what’s going on in our oceans and make your voice heard! We will be updating live from the cove most days- and you can keep updated on the official Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians’ Facebook Page, Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian Official Reports, or follow #tweet4taiji on Twitter!

Fingers crossed that the rain that has been drizzling all afternoon will set in well beyond tomorrow morning and there is no hunting! 🙂

Nicole.

For those of you wanting to know more about the lucrative captive marine mammal trade and its’ history- watch this documentary!

My Favourite Colour!

This morning we were extremely happy to report that all 12 ‘banger’ boats returned empty handed! The cove stayed blue today 🙂

Although, as we are reminded constantly here in Taiji, there’s always something going on, something to look out for.

Earlier on in the morning, the horrors from the last few days were reinstated when Guilherme saw a skiff with dolphin killers inside, sneaking into the killing cove while most of the other dolphin killers were out at sea. They procured from the killing cove the body of a small pilot whale, which they habitually concealed under tarps and delivered to the butcher house. The fact that it was a smaller whale alludes to the possibility that it was unintentionally killed during the previous days’ slaughter- perhaps they did not want us to expose this, resulting in their secretive movements today.

It was a short wait up on the promontory this morning; myself, B, Harrison and Raphael were stationed at the headland monitoring the horizon for glimpses of banger boats.. a few hours into the wait, Guilherme and Scott joined us from the cove, and as we were waiting, Guilherme took us to check up on the surrounding beaches- where he had spotted a pilot whale that had been washed ashore a few weeks previous. The pilot whale was part of a remaining pod which was ‘released’ after a slaughter in Taiji over a month ago… The trauma incurred within the Cove is quite evidently the cause for the strand.

It was a shocking reminder of the fact that these pods are hugely affected by the hunts, and when released- they will likely not survive without the stable social structure that they have known for generations.. Sitting only a metre away from this rotting carcass- I cast my thoughts to only six weeks ago, when this now decaying body would have been swimming freely in the vast ocean, swimming along with 100 other beautiful pilot whales, learning, teaching and interacting with each other. Then, with a short intake of breath, the putrid smell entered my nostrils and I could not bare to be nearby the body any longer than to take a few quick photos.. It is a smell that I would never have been able to comprehend having never smelt it.. it makes your head spin and your stomach churn.

This is what mankind has done to such a beautiful animal. Actually, it doesn’t matter whether the animal is beautiful at all- simply because it is alive, that gives it the right to continue to live…

As we walked back to the carpark from the promontory with mixed emotions about the day and what we had seen, something caught my eye. It was the single most amazing butterfly I have ever seen, sitting in the middle of the road in front of me. I find nature to be like therapy, you revert back to feeling child-like when you’re around animals, there is so much to gain by understanding and spending time with animals..

Constantly, no matter how hard the day, we all need to take the time to appreciate the beauty that does still exist in this world- for it is the only way to protect it…

“Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard”
-Standing Bear

Educate yourself on what’s going on in our oceans and make your voice heard! We will be updating live from the cove most days- you can keep updated on the official Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians’ Facebook Page. Or follow #tweet4taiji on Twitter!

Here’s hoping for another blue day tomorrow! 🙂

Nicole.

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The Quota Problem

Over the past three days, there has been a tangible sense of despair lingering around the town of Taiji. Over the past three days, a family of over 100 Pilot Whales was completely torn apart.

On Tuesday morning, these animals were chased down, traumatised and herded together- their captors taking complete advantage of what mankind has come to learn about cetaceans; their use of sound for sight- or, echolocation. In a chaotic and deafening few hours on Tuesday, these majestic creatures fell from freedom and were confined to nets and jagged cliff-faces- in the next few days, they would lose part of their family.

Yesterday, 14 of the most sizable adults were slaughtered within the killing cove, as the others watched and listened- whilst swimming in the blood of their family members. Another 7 large adults were taken from our oceans early this morning… the rest were released hours later.

Now, the reasoning behind the title of this post serves to highlight the extent of greed which is so readily shown here in Taiji. Each season (between the months of Sep-Mar), the dolphin fishermen are allocated set quotas for individual species of dolphins and small whales…

Theoretically, these ‘quotas’ are set to allow for the ‘sustainable fishing‘ of certain species. However, here in Taiji- we can easily see the blatant abuse of these quotas, and the aftereffects are disastrous. During instances where we see huge pods being driven into the cove (just like the one we have seen over the past few days), only the largest and most profitable dolphins will be selected for slaughter, while the smaller adults, subadults and calves with less meat (therefore, less $$) are released with a high risk that they may not survive themselves.

The factor that is not taken into account is that many of these remaining whales cannot survive without the balanced social structures that they have been developing throughout generations. Therefore- there are many more dolphins and small whales silently perishing at the hands of the dolphin killers of Taiji… yet these are not incorporated into what they write down in their daily inventories after ‘work’. Many of the young pilot whales may perish without the presence of their mothers and elders. Pilot whales are considered one of the more socially dependent species of marine mammal (thought to be one reason for mass stranding episodes worldwide)- they never leave their natal pod.

And so, the next time another large pod makes the unfortunate mistake of swimming past Taiji, it will also incur the same fate; the largest whales slaughtered for meat while the less profitable individuals are left to possibly survive with the memory of their traumatic experience within the cove…

This morning, I was shown from a distance the skeleton of a Pilot Whale that was released from the cove after a slaughter in recent weeks- its’ body had washed up on a beach near the ‘Promontory’, nearby the cove and had largely rotted away- leaving its’ bones exposed. It is clearly evident that these animals struggle to survive without a connection between family members, and just this morning as the dolphin killers were chasing the pilot whales out of the cove- two whales had simply given up- they were virtually motionless and not even the dolphin killers’ attempts at running them down with the propellors on their skiffs could move them out at any pace. One of the whales was reluctantly fastened to the side of a skiff and dumped further out to sea.. their fate will remain unknown.

Once again, the bottom line. Greed.

But there is something that you can do to help! Get educated about what’s going on in our oceans and make your voice heard! We will be updating live from the cove every day- you can keep updated on the official Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians’ Facebook Page. Or follow #tweet4taiji on Twitter!

I’ll be updating this blog every day once again for you guys to keep updated on what is going on here in Taiji. Tomorrow we’ll have videos up from the last few days.. Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments etc to pathtoprotect@hotmail.com 🙂

After a very intense and horrific few days, we are all hoping for a blue cove tomorrow!

Nicole

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A Grim Return

There’s nothing you can do to prepare yourself to witness slaughter on a mass scale.

Returning for my third season here in Taiji, Japan yesterday showed me just that.

Arriving yesterday afternoon, the news that I was greeted with instantly made me sick to my stomach- over 100 Pilot Whales had been captured within the cove that morning, waiting to be slaughtered.

I travelled into Taiji yesterday afternoon for the first time since last season. This time, the first stop was the new ‘Police Box’ where all new activists must report for questioning upon their arrival in the town. When I had left last year, the police station at the cove was newly being built… This year, the police presence has grown immensely!

After talking with the police, I wanted to head straight to the Cove.

The sight that greeted us was one of pure heartbreak. Huddled together and confused, the huge pod of Pilot Whales were barely moving, except for the occasional spy-hop or tail slap. Some members of the pod were enormous and of old age, some were newborn calves; still sporting ‘birth rings’ along their bodies. We remained at the cove for hours until the sun had set. Ever present these days, the police had set up powerful lights which shone out over the whole beach overnight..

After a very restless sleep, we awoke this morning and set out for the cove at 5am. After what would have been a night of absolute terror for these sentient beings, we arrived at the cove to find that the pod had hardly moved at all, still clutching onto each other, huddled up and giving comfort in the form of physical touch. Their stress levels were noticeably increasing, however, with every hour that passed…

We did not have to wait long until the dreaded skiff full of dolphin killers showed up.

They began herding some of the pod into the killing cove- the pod put up quite a valiant struggle against the nets, boats, sounds, engines, propellors and men that were trying so desperately to end their lives… The dolphin killers selected some of the largest pilot whales from the pod and dragged them by a rope harnessed around their tail fluke, into the killing cove. The next time that they emerged, they were lifeless and tied to the side of boats- headed for the butcherhouse.

What teared away at my insides most today was seeing innocence in its’ purest form be greeted with such atrocious acts of indifference and cruelty. This morning, one of the young calves became trapped in a net, and was very visibly struggling to free itself, while its’ mother looked on close by. This went on for a long time, while the dolphin killers stood merely metres away- too busy and transfixed on their money-generating slaughter to even acknowledge the calf, let alone free it. After a while, the calf vanished- it had drowned in the net, with its’ mother by its’ side… helpless.

In my opinion, the development of human indifference has been the most dangerous thing that has ever occurred on this planet. When we’re children, we are taught right from wrong. In school, we are constantly urged to show respect for others, compassion and kindness. We know when we are doing the wrong thing, we know when our words or actions hurt another- we have been instructed how to live a life of peace from an early age.

But, somewhere along the path of growing up, we lose all of this kindness and compassion- we become indifferent and apathetic to the problems in this world, always leaving it for another to take responsibility.

We are ALL responsible for what goes on in this world, and it is up to every single one of us to make the conscious change to live a compassionate life and to stand up for those without a voice. For if we do not do so quickly, there may not be many more generations to teach this compassion to. This is YOUR time to stand up, have your voice counted and do something that will change the world.

Just consider; what kind of a world do you want your kids and grandkids to see? What kind of legacy would YOU like to leave behind?

At the end of the day, 15 Pilot Whales were killed during the slaughter, including the calf that drowned. The remaining 80-90 whales are still currently within the cove, awaiting their fate tomorrow morning…

We will be updating live from the cove in the morning- you can keep updated on the official Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians’ Facebook Page. Or follow #tweet4taiji on Twitter!

I’ll be updating this blog as well as my Facebook every day whilst I’m here in Taiji! A huge thank you to those of you who have already sent such kind words of support, I really do appreciate it and it helps to get through the days here knowing that we have such a strong network of support worldwide!

Until tomorrow…
Nicole.

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A Hero In Jail

I owe a lot to Erwin Vermeulen…

A rugged appearance and a heart of gold- that is how I would describe Erwin. We spent about three weeks together in Taiji, Japan, standing up for the conservation and protection of marine mammals. Erwin was arrested two days before I left Japan- I was one of the last people to see him and speak to him in the seconds before his arrest…

Erwin has spent much of his life focused upon the protection of animals, a passionate, generous and caring man. I could not think of anyone else with a better character, loyalty or integrity for the conservation world. Through and through, he is a man that would not hurt a fly- he actually was the person who made me decide to fully become a vegan, after having been vegetarian for three years. He opened my eyes a little wider to the injustices happening in our world today…

Now, the injustice is being forced upon himself… He has been in Japanese prison now for over 40 days, his trial has recently begun.

Erwin stood with me as we watched families of intelligent, ecologically significant and socially intuitive animals being ripped apart and slaughtered in front of one another…

Erwin stood with me as we watched thousands of tuna, shark (without their fins and heads) be thrown around a fish market floor, tagged and labelled for mankind to eat…

Erwin stood with me as we bore witness to a dozen Manta Rays having their ‘wings’ hacked off their bodies whilst they were still alive…

Erwin stood with me as we watched dolphins being fastened, dragged on the sides of boats and transported to live a life in captivity after having seen their families slaughtered…

I ask of you, who is the real criminal here…?

Erwin stood up against all that is wrong in the world. Greed and the indifference for innocent beings and the environment…

Erwin stood up. That is why he is being punished. That is why he is being made an example of in Japanese courts… For those who stand up make a difference, those who stand up for what is right can change the mindsets of millions of people. Those who stand up can rid the world of greed and the need for power.

Those who stand up can change the world…

Now, we all need to stand up and support a man who has done nothing but try and make the world understand that there is more to life than greed, power and money… there is more to the ocean than what is on our plates. We need to show the Japanese Government that we will not be silenced  in our fight to make the world aware of what is going on, we will not be deterred from our mission to save the lives of innocent creatures. We will continue to stand up.

So, stand up and support Erwin Vermeulen. Click HERE to support Erwin on Facebook and to find links to help spread the word, emails of support can be sent to: freeerwinvermeulen@gmail.com

On the path to protect,

Nicole

The Return Home…

Well, I have finally been able to take the time to update you all on my experiences over the past few days… Leaving Taiji and returning home.

It has been more than difficult to get back to ‘reality’. In saying that, I don’t think I have ever felt as real, I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I was seeing the ‘real’ world and what is ‘really’ happening than when I am in Taiji. It certainly is an eye-opener, a way to make you wake up and realise that there is more happening to our world and our oceans than you think.

Last season, I stayed in Taiji for three months- I would see Cove guardians and other activists come and go, and would always hear of their hardships in trying to ‘get used’ to normal life, trying to think about anything else other than life here in Taiji and the beautiful animals we all travel so far to protect with all we have…

Last time, I was lucky enough to leave after the dolphin hunting season had ceased in early March this year- two days later, in fact. I know that this helped a great deal in enabling myself to become a little more settled in everyday life, I was able to leave knowing that there would not be bloodshed for at least a little while in the Cove.

This time however, I left Taiji in possibly the worst circumstances imaginable…

For the second time in two days, we stood at the promontory and saw the dolphin hunting boats returning to harbour, and for a second time, they made a quick turn around and raced out toward a located pod of dolphins… To know that those dolphins were literally about 15 minutes short of freedom is absolutely heartbreaking. To see the big black puffs of smoke from the ‘banger’ boats driving straight toward the most innocent creatures ever to grace the oceans is truly harrowing.

It was a large pod of Striped dolphins, located at around 9:30am… I had to leave Taiji at 12 noon, and be on my train by 1pm.

It looked as though I would be leaving on a very dark morning…

And sure enough, it turned out to be a horrific slaughter- not that every slaughter day is absolutely nightmarish, but there are certain days where you see suffering on an incomprehensible scale, you see desperation and frantic terror that leaves you shocked to your very core. This was one of those days..

Something that I will never be able to convey in videos, photos and even through describing a slaughter- is the sound… Of course, these days the dolphin hunters in Taiji now hide and conceal their ‘proud tradition’ wherever possible, so it is virtually impossible to glimpse the actual slaughter, however, for me attest, the sounds that bellow out from underneath those tarpaulins is torturous enough in itself… Standing up on the overlooking cliff, only minutes before I would have to leave Taiji, I witnessed, yet again, distress, suffering and pain that should not be taking place in this world…

The walk down from that cliff is always the worst part of a slaughter day for me… You’re coming to the realisation that the animals you saw merely an hour or two ago would never be coming out of that cove alive, your whole body is shaking- sometimes from anger, stress or even in pain if you spent your time filming on your toes trying to get over the vegetation- to top everything off on that walk down to the car, I realised I had to leave, and that what I had just witnessed was going to continue possibly the very next day whether I was there or not… I fought back tears the whole way ‘home’ to our hotel.

And what better way to add to one of the worst mornings imaginable than to have two dozen police storm up the stairs into your rooms and have them raid and go through all of your belongings…

The lengths that the Japanese Government has gone to to thwart the efforts of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and other organisations here is incredible- first, they had their media vendetta against us last season and they have spent millions of dollars to keep dozens of police officers here in Taiji during this years’ campaign. They know, however, that none of this has worked… So, they have stepped it up again, by not only arresting and holding a seemingly innocent man with no witnesses or evidence of the alleged crime, but by also sending in all of their police crew and more for a raid of our personal belongings…

They are getting desperate, and they know it. They know that we are having a huge impact and they know that this dolphin slaughter will soon come to an end if Sea Shepherd and other activists maintain their presence on the ground here…

I had to leave during the raid- they began by going through my already-packed bag which was ready and waiting for me to take it and leave for the train… They looked through everything imaginable, my camera and computer etc. But, of course, found nothing. I did take the time to quickly show them a video from the day’s slaughter- the policeman rummaging through my belongings sat transfixed for a moment, watching a small, innocent and helpless Striped dolphin frantically fighting for its’ life while wrapped up in one of the fisherman’s’ net, then showing a diver coming up and attempting to drown it…

I hope that he understood that we are only here trying to stop something that is nothing short of criminal in itself… maybe not in the legal sense, but in the sense of the ecological destruction it ensues.

One day, the world will realise, and maybe, just maybe, it may have enough time to reverse the mistakes of the past…

Since returning to Australia, I spent the next day at Byron Bay, where I witnessed a pod of Bottlenose dolphins happily playing in the waves amongst surfers, just as it should be… Just to sit and watch these animals living a free life alongside humankind- hearing kids all around me excitedly exclaim things like “Look mum! Can you see those dolphins!?” show me that we’re not too late to save much of the ocean ecosystems…

 

My next focus will be on what is happening to the wildlife in my OWN backyard- Australia… I want to really get involved in creating awareness and educating people in my home country about the destruction that is happening right under our noses- of course, my other big focus will be on getting my In Our Hands project coming together in preparation for next June! Hopefully in that time I may be able to schedule a return trip to Taiji also…

Make sure you keep updated here and on my Facebook! 🙂

Sending all of you a huge Merry Christmas! I can’t tell you how much your support over the past year has meant to me, and I will continue to help protect our oceans for as long as they need protection. So it seems as though I will be busy for a few years to come still… I am absolutely thrilled to say that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society flagship the Steve Irwin has successfully located the Japanese Whaling Fleet- before they not only had a chance to kill a single whale, but before they had even reached the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary! What an amazing Christmas Present for the oceans! 🙂 Read about the pursuit HERE.

The dolphin slaughter still continues in Taiji and greater Japan, continue your support for the Cove Guardians there- call and email embassies, take notice of any Call To Action and donate, if you can! 🙂 Every little bit helps, and as I’ve seen on this recent return trip, the pressure is working!

To read an article on my recent return to Australia that was in my local paper, click HERE.

For those of you who want to help us 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 ‘In Our Hands’ project and PLEASE get involved!

Now, more than ever, we need people to stand amongst us here in Taiji as Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians- for an application, email Scott West at: coveguardian@seashepherd.org

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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Compassion Will Triumph

Coming to Taiji at the age of 19 last year was the biggest turning point of my life. I spent three months here and felt every emotion under the sun, every day. There could have been times where I just wished I could live an easy teenage life, however ever since I was 6 years old I knew that a simple life was not on the cards for me. I grew up very quickly while I was    here last season- I knew that I had to.

What my experiences since have shown me is that money, pride, greed and image will force humankind to do basically anything. They will go against their morals, they will knowingly destroy both natural habitats and beings, and show no remorse.. The more I see this, the more I am disheartened…

However, the more I see this, the more I am driven to rise up against it. At the end of the day- compassion will triumph.

The desperation that comes when those who know they are fighting a losing battle is obvious. Individuals, businesses and governments will go to any lengths- and more extreme lengths when they know they are coming to a defeat. Once this desperation begins, all that is left is for the compassionate pursuit to stay strong, hold their heads high, stay clear of compromise and negotiations and keep doing what they do.

This week has been bloody, cruel, ongoing and emotionally, mentally and physically draining. Out of the last 6 days, the cove has been stained with the blood of innocent lives on 5 different occasions… Since I have last posted, there has been two consecutive slaughters of Risso’s dolphin families. On top of that, mothers have been ripped apart from their babies, as mankind greedily select which lives will serve and entertain humans for the rest of their lives in captivity. To see this, every day, to know about the strength of the family bonds of these animals, to know that they themselves are self aware, to know that they feel pain, that they feel loss and depression and loneliness is nothing short of torturous.

For this reason, we stand together here in Taiji against what is happening around us. I often refrain from using this term, however this week has shown to me that the acts of mankind here are evil… in all sense of the word.

Today, my good friend, and fellow Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian was arrested during his attempts at standing up and trying to give these dolphins a voice amongst humans. To give the dolphins that are yet to migrate past Taiji a future… to give hope for future generations, and to show that we will not back down in the fight to protect the world’s marine life… Right now, he is sitting alone in a Japanese jail.

It is now more important than ever that we all stand together and continue our fight… that we continue to give a voice to these beautiful animals. The desperation and the cracks are showing, and this is the time for us to become a stronger voice.

Over the course of the next few days and possibly weeks, we may need to send out a call to action. Right now, we ourselves are gaining more knowledge on the situation, and will update more in time. Meanwhile- send your passionate words to the Dolphin Resort Hotel in Taiji- a number one facility in contributing to the slaughters this week, through buying the babies taken from their mothers…

Phone: +81 735 59 3514

Fax: +81 735 59 2810

Email: info@dolphinresort.jp

As Ric O’Barry has said… “we are going to stop this”.

And I don’t think we’ve ever been so close…

For those of you who want to help us 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 ‘In Our Hands’ project and PLEASE get involved!

Now, more than ever, we need people to stand amongst us here in Taiji as Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians- for an application, email Scott West at: coveguardian@seashepherd.org

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.

Beauty and the Beast

Some mornings here in Taiji you just know are going to be ‘slaughter days’…

But at the same time, some mornings you get either a plesant surprise, or the disappointment of a lifetime. To have both in one day happens rarely, and when it does it feels literally soul-crushing.

We awoke to a very overcast and dark morning here in Taiji, though with glass-like seas. There was an overwhelming sense of doom almost lingering in the air, as we watched the banger boats leave to hunt dolphins… B, Heather, Nikki and myself went up to the promontory to scout the horizon and Scott and Erwin went up to a new area; ‘Point Erwin’.

The boys could see the drive a little more clear if dolphins were found down South, and this morning I received a message from Scott that it looked as though the dolphin hunters had found a pod. Every ten or so minutes I would be updated, and for a while it wasn’t looking good.But then it seemed as though the pod had gotten away, and the seven boats that were driving it to the South had started making their way back. Three bangers stationed to the North began to return and drove straight into Taiji Harbour. For a precious fifteen or so minutes, our hopes started to rise higher and higher… even the sun came out into a glorious sunrise. It looked as though it was going to be a great day for the dolphins!

It all changed so suddenly. The banger boats appeared as if out of no where in front of the promontory. Seven of them. Lined up in drive formation… and then we spotted the pod.
They were driving quickly, so we headed straight for Glenda’s Hill to get a good look down toward the Cove.
The pod were so exhausted, especially for Striped dolphins. Now, every time I see the gorgeous markings that identify a dolphin as Striped, I feel a huge knot in my stomach. For me, seeing Striped dolphins in the cove has been by far the most horrible to endure, as they would normally throw themselves up onto rocks in a desperate attempt to get away from the banging and roaring motors… It is heart wrenching. For this to be legal anywhere in the world is absolutely beyond me. For pride, for culture, for money… it doesn’t matter in the end- to see these animals’ fear, desperation and prolonged suffering should be enough to halt the insanity…
Today was a little different to all other Striped dolphin slaughters I have witnessed in the past… as a testament to just how exhausted these animals were, they allowed themselves to be pushed straight into the killing cove without jumping on rocks… the suffering for this particular pod was to occur out of sight, under tarpaulins. But no amount of screens could obscure the noises you can hear from within the killing cove… noises that will continue to stay with me in both my waking and dreaming states.
And, just like that, a family was destroyed. The only thing left to see was a small boat full of dolphin bodies (covered up, of course) with a few men, the beast of the Earth, strewed on top…

For those of you who want to help us 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 ‘In Our Hands’ project and PLEASE get involved!

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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Exploitation of Innocence

Over the past few days here in Taiji, we’ve been keeping a close watch on the captive areas around the town…

On Thursday, we saw a transfer of two Risso’s Dolphins from the Taiji Harbour pens into the Taiji Dolphin Resort Hotel. In order to transfer these beautiful animals, they were tied to either side of a skiff (small powered boat), then hoisted up by the use of a crane over the walls of the Hotel… The sounds were deafening and the Risso’s Dolphins seemed terrified… These dolphins were taken out of the killing cove by dolphin trainers on December 4th. On the day, 6 of their family members were slaughtered before the eyes of the dolphin trainers and the dolphins themselves… there was one other Risso’s dolphin that was taken from the pod that day, and it now resides in a small sea pen alongside a Pilot Whale and two Bottlenose Dolphins at Dolphin Base, which is located less than fifty metres from the Dolphin Resort Hotel. It is heart-wrenching to see the two dolphins being taken over the Hotel wall, when swimming extremely close by is a member of their family… a brother, sister, mother, aunt, uncle… who will never see its’ family again.

To see how ‘disposable’ the trainers and dolphin hunters view these animals is quite sickening. We’ve seen examples of this, the most disturbing being when both trainers and dolphin fishermen left captive dolphins trapped in their sea pens during a typhoon in early September, predictably due to their neglect to care for or release these dolphins, some seem to have been killed as the typhoon knocked the trapped animals around within the pens. But of course, those who work within the industry know that they can just ‘replace’ the dolphins with more from the wild… they are nothing more than a commodity.

We are constantly convinced of this when we witness the trainers entering the killing cove during a slaughter, to pick our their ‘favourites’ or the most ‘attractive’ looking dolphins for a life in captivity.

Yesterday and the day previous, we saw just that, as the dolphin hunters drove in yet more pods of Risso Dolphins into the killing cove quite early in the morning. There were 16 in total in the first, and 13 in the second, and as the dolphins were reluctantly forced within the doomed cove, trainers prepared slings in skiffs to select four dolphins of their choice. By the time the dolphins were driven up onto the beach, the trainers arrived and disappeared underneath the tarpaulins that display the shame that these people have for what they do. Minutes later, a skiff with dolphins emerged- three on Saturday, one yesterday, (at least one small juvenile) tied to the boat. Some headed toward Taiji Harbour to keep the dolphins there- replacing the two Risso’s that were taken to the Hotel a few days previous.

It is time to stop regarding dolphins and all other animals on this Earth as commodities; something that humans can benefit from somehow. There is enough knowledge and education means out there to make well-informed decisions about how we use the natural resources on Earth. Taking intelligent and ecologically important animals from the wild for human entertainment or consumption is foolish considering the fact that we know what kind of effects this has on our ocean ecosystems.

Something drastic needs to be done about the over-exploitation of wildlife worldwide.

For those of you who want to help us 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 ‘In Our Hands’ project and PLEASE get involved!

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.