donderdag 31 januari 2013

What,s behind the dolphins "smile"

In Taiji you can be hit by lightning, even with a clear blue sky.

We had a couple of beautiful days without pain or suffering. For 3 days in a row the Cove stayed blue ! Every morning at 6.30, the boats went out, but returned empty handed to port, always as late as possible, because there was always a chance of finding dolphins or whales... And every morning for us, was one of anxious waiting, scanning the ocean with binoculars to see if their were no bangerboats in sight, coming together in that sinister shape of a drive-formation. And for 3 days there was that sheer joy of seeing the boats come back without a pod, knowing that the Cove would stay blue for yet another day.
Temporary sea-prison...
...just outside Taiji harbour

This morning was no different. The boats went out and we went to our look out point, from were we had a clear view over the ocean. It was not before 9.30 (the time they stop searching) that we got our first glimps of the bangerboats, gathering into a formation, north of us. They had a pod of dolphins !

I changed to another location, the lighthouse at the harbour entrance. That´s when i saw something, for me, completely new. The pod of dolphins was not driven into the infamous Cove, but was netted in, just outside Taiji harbour. Later i understood why.... The pod they had captured were White-sided dolphins, most wanted in dolphin shows and dolphinaria and therefore highly valuable ! So of these animals, non were butchered, but they had to be taken alive, all of them. 
Tossed against the wooden board....
Butcherhouse at Taiji harbour

Soon the skiffs with divers and fishermen moved in, to get controle over the frightened and confused animals, who were just hours before, wild and free in the open ocean.

It didn't take long for the first skiff with one dolphin and several fishermen, to pass right under my nose to the harbour pens, were they hold all the "prisoners". There the men just tossed the sensitive animal over the wooden walkingboards into one of the holding-pens. A total of 11 skiffs went back and forth, some of them even had 3 dolphins aboard. The animals are quitte heavy and during one "toss", they threw the unfortunate dolphin not far enough, so it fell full weight on the wooden board and then it tumbled into the pen....

2 dead, 1 alive to the butcher
Taken prisoner

Several dolphins died during this proces of stress and were taken directly to the butcherhouse, which is located only meters away from the harbour pens.

Taiji, i have to hand it to you, today you caught me totally off guard ! Maybe because i thought that i had seen all your horrors in the 3.5 weeks that i was here, or maybe because this happened right under my nose so i could see the torturing in all it's gruesome details. But something inside me snapped, when your "workmen" came in with the last skiff, carrying the dead body's of two dolphins hidden under tarps and one dolphin alive, but injured. Dead ánd alive, they were hauled by the tail into the butcherhouse and slaughtered.

Before i came to Taiji, i tried to prepare myself for what was to come by reading all about the atrocity's that are happening here almost daily, read all the news, viewed all the clips on youtube and even monitored about every square foot of Taiji with Google Earth. So i thought i knew....
Little did i know. You can never be ready for the harsh reality of Taiji.
Harbour lighthouse

Some time ago, i saw a quote on Facebook:

"You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you did not know"

I guess what i'm trying to say is, if you know where these dolphins came from and you know, how much pain and suffering these intelligent creatures had to go through (and always will in captivity) to entertain us, how could someone ever again buy a ticket to a dolphin show ? I really wouldn't know.

Thank you for all your support and thanks for reading my blog.

With love,


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