zaterdag 12 januari 2013

Welcome to Taij

My first day in Taiji was a good day. The cove stayed blue.
But yesterday was different...

We went out early in the morning, we saw the banger-boats leave port and we moved to our lookout point, from were you have an exellent view of the ocean. There the waiting began, anxiously tracing the horizon with binoculars, to see if anyone could catch a glimp of the hunting boats and if they were in a drive-formation or not. Usually the killers hunt until 9.30 in the morning. If they didn't find anything by that time, they return to port and call it a day.

Boats in driving formation
At around 9.25 the first boat was just about to enter the harbour, maybe a hundred meters away, followed in a distance by the rest. The cove would stay blue for yet another day !! We were all excited, joking and making plans for the afternoon. We would go out for noodles !
But then, right in front of us, the first boat stopped and layed motionless in the water. We all stopped breathing. Then it slowly turned around, throttled up and speeded back to the ocean when at the same time, all the other boats changed course and headed in the same direction. They were tipped off by a small fishingboat that was laying right in front of us, not more then maybe a mile off shore. The had spotted dolphins.

The bangerboats hurried to get into a driving formation behind the pod. This time it was tóó easy for the killers, this close to the cove...

We all went to another position, high above the cove, from where you have a clear view of the drama that's unfolding in front of you. In my life i have seen dolphins twice. The first time was at a dolphin show in Harderwijk (Netherlands). I was maybe 8 or 9 years old and i really thought the dolphins were happy because they were "smiling". How little did i know....

22 Risso dolphins
The second time i saw them, so many years later, they were surrounded by 12 banger boats, with men who were banging on steal poles in the water, creating a wall of sound making the dolphins franticly flea in the other direction. Everytime a dolphin tried to escape, one of the fast killerboats throttled up, blowing a black puff of smoke from it's diesel engine, driving it back to the pod. Dispite the tragedy, the thing that struck me seeing them in real live again, was the power and grace in which they glided trough the water. What a beautiful creatures !

Once in the cove, it was quickly netted off by men in skiffs. No escape anymore. Right after that, the murderers started to cover the killing zone with tarps. They don't want the world to see their dirty little secret. Covering the cove, only means one thing...The sound of the steal rings scraping over the metal cabels, meter by meter, still haunts me.
2 Taken captive

First 2 Risso's were taken captive by dolphin trainers, to spent the rest of their lives in a concrete tank, doing silly tricks for a human audience. All the other family members had to die.
Yes we see what you do !

So soon, the killing began by ramming a steel rod into the spinal cord, paralizing the animal, but not killing it. Then a wooden plug is jammed into the wound to stop the bleeding. No blood in the water for the world to see ! But they don't always succeed and also this time, slowly the cove turned red... When the animal is tied with it's tail to a skiff for transportation to the butcherhouse, it usually drowns. Usually...

Killed dolphin
Transfering to the butcher
During one of the transports, a killer desperately trying to hide his dirty bloody business, looked up at me, straight in the eyes. Caught like a thief in the night.

It was all over so quickly. Only a few hours ago this dolphin family was happy and free. Now, 18 of them were killed and 2 were kidnapped, never to see their family and the ocean again. All because they made one mistake: They came to close to Japanese shores.

Words can hardly discribe what i felt yesterday and it still is so surreal.
But it made me even more determined to do whatever i can to stop this cruelty. And even if you can not come to Taiji, you can share the news. Let the world know what is going on. Together we are strong !!

But the day wasn't over yet. Shortly after the killing and butchering, a crane was positioned to lift 2 bottlenose dolphins, who had spent weeks in the harbour pens, from their small prisons into a waiting truck to be transported to a dolphinarium somewhere in the world.
Lifted into a waiting truck

We jumped into the car and followed the truck for several hours, only to loose it at some point unfortunately. That's why i didn't had the energy to wright my blog yesterday, we were só tired.

Sunrise at the cove
But today there is no hunting !! All the boats stayed in. So all the time in the world to make up and write a decent update from my blog, as i  promissed.
Coming back from the harbour, we stopped at the cove to wittness an incredible sunrise. Strange that such a horrific place can be so beautiful as well.
So today is my day off. All the others are out for lunch and i think i'm gonna bring some order in the      mess i made of my hotelroom ;)

Thanks for all your support and thanks for reading my blog.

Until soon.