By Ric O’Barry
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project
Our good friend and writer, Leah Lemieux, is returning to Taiji in Japan to be our volunteer Cove Monitor for the next month. But first she traveled to Mikura Island, off Tokyo, to swim with the dolphins. Here’s her report:
Reporting from the Izu Shoto islands: I’m on Mikura island, about 120 miles south of Tokyo, a very special place in Japan where this coastal community loves, protects and benefits from the local dolphin population.
Around 120 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins call Mikura’s waters home and tourists visit from all over Japan to meet them here.
Here, Japanese citizens grow up boating and visiting with the islands resident dolphins as part of their culture. They know many dolphins on sight and understand that in this tiny and remote area, they are a very valuable resource for revenue and must be protected, not hunted.
Mikura residents have been heard to remark that, if a hunt similar to that conducted in Taiji were to begin here, there would be immediate protests and resistance by the locals in defense of the dolphins.
It is hoped that perhaps the example of human-dolphin relations exemplified in Mikura can be demonstrated as a positive working model for other parts of Japan, including Taiji.
Gotta go….last swim before we head back to Tokyo.
My thanks to Leah and all our volunteers who are spending their time in Taiji, Japan, to let the rest of the world know what is happening there.