By Tim Burns
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project
We had two days of no killing in the Cove: on Friday, when the dolphin hunters were unable to find any at sea, and again on Saturday, when the hunters took their usual day off.
We rose this morning at 5:00am. Checking the weather report, it was going to be calm waters with no wind. We didn’t need to drive to the Taiji harbor to know the boats are going to be heading out. We of course got in the car and headed south to witness first hand as they were slipping out the harbor entrance. Much like every morning they fanned out 180º.
This morning we had several emotional ups and down, as the boats would appear on the horizon in formation, then slip out of sight again. About 10:00 am, it was confirmed they had a pod. A couple of the boats came in, only to get the cove prepared for a slaughter. By 11:00 am the pod was being sealed into the cove.
As is often the case with Striped Dolphins, they begin to panic in the shallow waters of the cove. As they panic they jump onto the rocks. The fishermen quickly have a diver in the water to pull them off so we cannot film any bloodshed.
We listened for 30 minutes as the slaughter happens under the tarps just 200 feet below us. Then we hear nothing. No more tails slapping; no more fishermen yelling.
All is silent for several minutes before the first of several skiffs come out from under the tarps. We filmed the skiff as it rounded the point and noticed that there was movement under the tarp. Then we see the tails of several juvenile dolphins flapping in the air. The skiff rushed around the point and headed out to sea.
Later we confirmed that the dolphins were released. Many cheered, but we felt sorrow. It’s supposed to be seen as a gesture or an act of good fisheries policy. The sad truth is, without the rest of their pod, these juvenile dolphins will just die of starvation or fall victims to predation. Now the Taiji dolphin hunters have driven these young dolphins from the open sea to land, killed their entire family in front of them, and condemned them to die at sea.