By Ruth Williams
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project
Today was a wonderful day in Taiji. The boats went out bright and early as usual. It was pretty chilly and slight wind. But still good hunting weather. We waited for a few hours at one of our look out points. Our friend Sasha Alazy is an amazing communicator with everyone he comes in contact with. He gives factual information and has a way of explaining things that make everyone stop and listen. It was his first time watching the boats go out hunting.
After a few hours the boats were spotted out on the horizon and once again the sick feeling in my stomach came back. We watched as the hunters struggled back and forth with these dolphins. The pod was assumed to be Risso’s dolphins, although we could not be sure at this distance.
The pod was chased all the way by the lighthouse. At this point, we almost lost all hope for them, because normally this is the point of no return. But as soon as our hope started fading, an amazing thing happened. We saw the hunters loose the pod!
But then the hunters quickly found them. It was a cat and mouse chase. The hunters were just watching and waiting for the dolphins to emerge. But to our complete surprise, the dolphins disappeared one final time, and we saw the boats finally turn around and head back to harbor! I could not believe my eyes. Such an amazing feeling!
This was a wonderful victory for all of us, especially for the dolphins. They may never know how close they were to certain death.
After the hunt was over I rushed Sasha to the train station to met with Hans Peter Roth, as they had a train to catch. They have left Taiji victoriously! I will miss them both.
As I returned to Taiji, I went and watched the Risso’s dolphins that were captured the other day while the rest of their family was murdered. They are not doing well at all. They huddle together in the middle of their sea pen just bobbing up and down in the water (spy hopping). I was told they are not eating and that they are completely miserable. My heart aches for them.
I had to do one last stop before retreating to my hotel and that was to Dolphin Base where captive dolphins are held in sea pens and small tanks (smaller than swimming pools) so people can swim with them. They are also trained to do tricks for dead fish.
The police today were quit nervous about me being there because there was about 30 high school student from Osaka that was there to swim with the dolphins for “educational purposes”. I was told to not take any pictures by the police. So I watched these poor dolphins do ridiculous tricks for these students. They had to take them one by one around the sea pen while the students held on to their backs – I felt so sorry for dolphins. I also felt bad for the students. This is not education!
I headed back to the hotel after watching them for a while. But on my way I felt like I had accomplished nothing, and I realized I had Japanese version of The Cove DVDs. So I turned around, and, right as I walked up, the students were walking out of the Dolphin Base already changed back into their street clothes. Police were not around, and I walked up to the students and started handing out the DVDs. At first they would not take them, but then one person accepted my hand out and the rest followed.
Perfect timing and another victory for the day!