By Ric O’Barry
Are you interested in joining the Dolphin Project team members and me during our events around Sept. 1st, 2011, in Taiji, Japan?
The people of Japan have suffered from a terrible ordeal of combined earthquake, tsunami, and a nuclear accident. Our hearts go out to them, and we intend to do what we can to help. But the dolphin hunts are scheduled to begin again in Taiji on Sept. 1st, and we will be there, as we have been for many years now. The dolphins need our help too. We believe we can help both the dolphins and the vast majority of the people of Japan who agree with us that the hunts must be stopped.
It’s not a trip for everybody, especially given the expense, but many have already expressed interest, and, as you know, I will certainly be there.
I’m sure you will have a lot of questions. Frankly, we don’t have many answers yet, but here are some general ideas we are working on:
We expect our Taiji events to be about 5 to 7 days in Japan. This would probably include arrival in Osaka (one day), bus down to Taiji (one day), a ceremony at the Cove on Sept. 1st(one day), a day of sightseeing in the local area plus discussions of the issues (one day), return by bus to Osaka (one day), fly home. We will have more details on this over the course of the next few weeks.
No one under 18 years of age is allowed unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
You would be responsible for your air ticket to and from Osaka Airport, for your hotel costs in Osaka and near Taiji (we will be staying in Kii-Katsuura, which is about a 10-15 minute drive from Taiji), and all meals. We will provide bus transportation from Osaka Airport to Taiji and return, plus bus transport within Taiji during the events. Hotel costs are about $75 to $150 (or more) depending on where you stay. Figure another $30+ per day for meals.
As you know, our work in Taiji is strictly non-confrontational and legal. We will not tolerate any interference or trespass in the Cove by any of our supporters. We have developed very good relations with the local police due to our respectful behavior, and do not wish to harm that relationship, nor jeopardize our Campaign in Japan.
Police in Taiji have been fair and honest, and we work well with them. Taiji fishermen are not friendly, but usually ignore us. We may have some extreme Japanese nationalist groups there, who demonstrate using loudspeaker trucks. Generally, the police have been good about protecting us from other demonstrators while at the Cove.
As you know, there has been serious damage to the Japanese nuclear power plants near Fukushima. This accident has included discharges of radiation to the air and water. While Taiji is a considerable distance from Fukushima and thus appears safe from such effects so far, there are unanswered questions about to what extent radiation contamination is a problem. For example, you will not be able to tell where your food comes from or whether it is absolutely safe to eat (unless you bring your own). This is a reality throughout Japan now. We believe the danger is small, but you need to consider your own health and safety if you plan to travel with us. If there are changes in the situation before our trip, we will notify you immediately.
There is always a chance we may have to cancel our plans due to circumstances beyond our control, so we encourage you to be flexible in your travel plans. We highly recommend that you secure trip cancellation insurance when making your airline reservation.
IF YOU CANNOT JOIN US IN TAIJI, consider joining an event in your city. On Sept. 1st, environmental and animal welfare organizations around the globe will be holding events in major cities to celebrate Japan Dolphins Day.
If you do not see any events being held in your city, consider setting up one yourself.
I hope to see you all in Taiji with me this coming September. We do make a difference when we show up and bring a world spotlight on the town of Taiji.
Thanks for your support for the dolphins!