Sad News from Taiji, But Signs of Hope Too
It will be the Japanese people who end the dolphin hunts, not us Westerners
I heard from our Japanese volunteer, Sakura, in Taiji that another 30-40 pilot whales were brutally slain in the Cove on the 15th (Saturday). A large pod had been driven into the Cove a few days ago, and many are still in the Cove, waiting their turn to die. Altogether, Sakura reports, the number of pilot whales killed was devastating. On Sunday, the dolphin hunters apparently took the day off, and the pilot whales remain in the Cove, four days without any food or succor.
Photo by Becca Jurczak
Yesterday (Monday) only about 10 pilot whales were removed from the large pod in the Cove for slaughter, probably because there is not enough storage space or buyers for the pilot whale meat, Sakura says. A small pod of bottlenose dolphins are also being kept in the Cove. Some animals died and were hauled off to the butcher factory next to the Fishermen's Union.
“I’m so sad,” she tells me. Sakura went to the butcher factory in town next to the Fishermen’s Union yesterday, and reports: “There are so many buyers for pilot whale meat!” She’s also checking shops in town to see if the meat shows up on shelves.
Sakura was one of eight Japanese nationals who joined us at the Cove this year on Sept. 1, talking to the media in Japanese and being with their many new friends from Hong Kong, the United States, South Africa, Brazil, the Philippines, Canada, Australia, and Bolivia. They were a great group of supporters!
She has also become our first Cove Monitor from Japan. We are so proud of her! Having grown up in Japan, her command of the language will be very helpful to us in keeping track of things in Taiji and seeking out new friends and contacts there.
Photo by Mark Palmer
Two Japanese friends from our group will join her in a few days.
I have always said that it will be the Japanese people who end the dolphin hunts, not us Westerners. We are already seeing many Japanese voting with their pocketbooks – they are refusing to buy dolphin and whale meat contaminated with mercury, and as a result, fewer dolphins are being killed in Taiji over the past four years.
With Sakura and her friends helping us in Japan, I know the hunts will end soon!
(A team of staff and volunteers from Earth Island's International Marine Mammal Project are The Cove right now monitoring this year's annual dolphin hunt. Read about what it is like to be a Cove Monitor)