Taiji Week 4 – September 22-28

Weather continued to play in the dolphin’s favor this week as the cove has remained blue for 10 consecutive days as of this morning.  Fisherman remained docked for the majority of the week due to heavy winds.

This week David Kirby talked with Satoshi Komiyama, leader of Flippers Japan. David’s article on TakePart is a fascinating Q&A with Satoshi about how he become involved in Taiji and more.

Yesterday morning the fisherman hit the water for the only time all week and thankfully came back empty-handed.

We also learned yesterday that 20 of the previously captured dolphins, 4 males and 16 females, will be headed to the Ukraine to begin their new life in captivity.

This morning, winds kept the boats in port again.  Go BLUE!

A Treadmill is No Substitute for the Ocean

As David Kirby pointed out after talking to several activists last week, SeaWorld has introduced a new “treadmill for whales.” In my opinion, this seems to be a last-ditch effort for them to be portrayed as a facility who cares for their animals.  As David said, “If you make something less bad, it’s still bad.”

Yes, it is true that Tilikum spends the majority of his time stationary in a small, back pool.  He could benefit from some exercise, but we should not stray from the big picture.  No matter what kind of machine is introduced, the bottom line is that he is still living in a small concrete tank.

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There are many unknown variables with this new treadmill, but I can’t help but wonder about the potentially detrimental factors.  We do not know what kind of noise it makes or how cooperative Tilikum will be.  If the machine is loud underwater, I would think that it will be doing him more harm than good.  An animal who naturally uses sonar to assess his surroundings should not be exposed to anything that will further harm his senses any more than his concrete tank already does.  I also have to wonder what frustration this might cause for him.  Although he is not being asked to perform, he is being asked to swim.  In a performance, he would get frequent dead fish as a reward following any command.  How long must he swim before he is rewarded (if you call dead fish a reward).  I feel that Tilikum is smart enough to realize that he is being duped.  Although I can’t speak for him, if this was happening to me I would be extremely frustrated.  Frustration could possibly lead to another injury to himself or to someone else.

The real issue continues to be the fact that Tilikum and all of the other cetaceans in all parks don’t belong in captivity. Period.  It is a sad fact that SeaWorld must look for other ways of “enrichment” for Tilikum’s life when the natural ocean provides all the enrichment he could ever need.

As activists, the focus needs to continue to be on stopping their breeding program and phasing out the captivity of these animals for good, not finding a way to make captivity better.

I tend to agree with Naomi Rose who stated, “It’s still not good enough.  Only the ocean is good enough.”

Taiji Week 3

Weather worked in the dolphin’s favor at the beginning of this week.  Wind and rain kept the boats docked and the dolphins away for a few days.  On Monday, a few of those previously captured bottle-nose dolphins were transferred to various facilities to begin their new, sad lives in a bathtub.  I can’t imagine the stress they must be under.

On Tuesday, in spite of the weather, the killers herded in a pod of pilot whales.  They were netted into the cove and left overnight.  Cramped and scared they spent their final hours.  Wednesday morning, the killers returned and slaughtered 12 of these whales, while releasing 4 .  The four that were released were on their own after having no food and witnessing their families death.  It seems unlikely of their survival.

(Photo by Dolphin Project)

This brings the total count so far this month to 1 juvenile bottlenose dolphin and 30 pilot whales slaughtered so far, but this inhumane process is likely to have caused many more deaths unaccounted for.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning the fishing boats thankfully came back empty-handed.

Please continue to contact WAZA to urge them to terminate JAZA and the slaughter immediately.  They could stop the slaughter!

Please join Fins and Fluke’s event to send polite emails to the Mayor of Sendai Japan requesting not to house captive dolphins in new facility.  To join the event, click here.

Taiji Week 2

Following the devastation on September 7 of having the first juvenile dolphin of the season slaughtered, everyone was relieved that the beginning of week two started with a “blue cove day”.  The fisherman came back empty-handed on September 8 and again on the 9th and 10th.

The three days in a row were just the “calm before the storm” in Taiji, however. On September 11, as the US remembers 9/11/01, the Taiji fisherman corral a pod of 15-30 pilot whales into the cove.  Left scared, confused and crowded they remain overnight awaiting their fate.

September 12, the fisherman slowly and brutally slaughtered 18 pilot whales as the others huddled together in a corner.  The scene is heartbreaking!  The juveniles of the pod were then released, but their chances of survival without their mother are slim to none.

September 13 in Taiji, although the fisherman came in empty-handed there were reports of 1 or 2 dolphins being “dumped” out at sea.  It wasn’t clear if the dolphin(S) was alive or dead, but it was clearly not a good situation.  This dolphin was one previously captured for captivity.

Today, September 14 in Taiji, is another BLUE DAY.

Again, I have to quote the WAZA agreement with JAZA.  Per the agreement:

WAZA has worked with JAZA and the Port of Nagoya Aquarium, to establish a 
new, transitional approach to the capture of dolphins as part of a tradition of 
Japanese inshore fishery. At this time it has been officially confirmed that during 
September dolphins will be collected for aquaria, the only species taken will be 
the Bottlenose dolphin, and the method employed will be ‘herding’. No dolphins will be taken for human consumption during September, and all surplus animals will be released.

Please continue to contact WAZA to urge them to terminate JAZA and the slaughter immediately.  They could stop the slaughter!

A map on Google Maps shows the 51 aquariums in Japan that house cetaceans. Of the 51 facilities, 48 of them have animals captured from drive fisheries.  The other 3 house beluga whales.

Currently there is a new facility being constructed in Sendai, Japan.  Fins and Fluke is heading up an event to request that everyone send emails to the Mayor politely requesting that the facility NOT house dolphins.  To join the event, click here.

 

Taiji Dolphin Drive Week 1

Before the dolphin drive began in Taiji this year, Ric O’Barry and the other activists with Save Japan Dolphins were invited by Flippers Japan, a grassroots organization, to participate in a Flash Mob in Tokyo.  Also joining Ric were drummer Matt Sorum and Izumi Ishii, a former dolphin killer with a change of heart.  The event was reportedly a success.  Photo by Tim Burns.

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A week ago today, the dolphin drive in Taiji began in full force.  The fisherman wasted no time this year, driving in a pod of dolphins on the first day.

Meanwhile, people met together in 117 different cities around the world to protest and raise awareness.  Some cities, including Washington DC, met a couple days early in order to protest outside of the Japanese Embassy or Consulate.  In Daytona Beach Shores, a group of us walked up  and down the beach during the holiday weekend, talking to people and passing out literature. Even though we were interrupting their day, most people responded very positively and vowed to make calls to the consulate and follow up.  Overall it was a success.  What made the day even more urgent was the fact that we all knew there was a pod of dolphins already being held in the cove.  Big thank you to Save Japan Dolphins and Save Misty for putting on a record-breaking day of awareness around the world.

There is a positive shift in Taiji this year, as a group of Japanese activists are protesting at the cove.  Satoshi Komiyama, leader of Flippers Japan, was featured in what easily became the picture of the week among activists.  The photo, taken by Daniela Moreno, depicted a visually upset Satoshi after ducking his head underwater and hearing the dolphins cry.  Ric consoled him as he and the Cove Monitors have done all week, supporting the Japanese activists.  They are the ones who have the important voice to change this brutal drive.

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On that first day, a pod of 60-70 dolphins, possibly two species, were driven into the cove.  The following day, 12-18 were chosen for captivity while the others were driven back out to sea.

The next 2 days, September 3 and 4, were blue days at the cove.  However, on the 4th, four bottle-nose dolphins were transferred from the sea pens to Dolphin Resort Hotel.  September 5 was another blue day.  Rain and rough seas kept the fishermen in the harbor.

September 6, another 50-60 dolphins were herded into the cove following a fight that lasted for 6 hours.  I can’t imagine the panic and stress they must’ve endured!

Yesterday, another 13 were chosen for captivity while the first slaughter illegally took place.  A juvenile had been put into a sling for captivity and left.  It was later seen at the slaughterhouse.  This goes directly against JAZA’s agreement with WAZA that there would be no killing in the month of September.

Per the agreement:

WAZA has worked with JAZA and the Port of Nagoya Aquarium, to establish a
new, transitional approach to the capture of dolphins as part of a tradition of
Japanese inshore fishery. At this time it has been officially confirmed that during
September dolphins will be collected for aquaria, the only species taken will be
the Bottlenose dolphin, and the method employed will be ‘herding’. No dolphins will be taken for human consumption during September, and all surplus animals will be released.

Please contact WAZA to urge them to terminate JAZA and the slaughter immediately.

Today, we also learned that Tokyo has won the bid to host the 2020 Olympics. Although this is disappointing news, it could be a blessing in disguise.  Maybe this is a chance for Flippers Japan to expose the brutality to the world.