I laid in bed last night listening to the rain hitting my window. I've always loved this sound, it has a way of washing a feeling of calm over me. Here in Taiji, it relaxes me even more. The weather reports called for gale force winds today, and when we stepped outside this morning into the pouring down rain, we knew it there would be no dolphin killing in the cove.
The downside of the heavy wind was seen at Dolphin Base. The seapens were being tossed about by the waves, and you could see the dolphins working to avoid being slammed into the sides. It must have been exhausting for them. We moved on to monitor the dolphins at the Taiji Whale Museum and were unlucky enough to catch another show. This time only one of the bottlenose dolphins beached itself and vocalized. In a neighboring tank, another dolphin threw its body up onto the platform as well, though very awkwardly and on its side. It was echolocating like crazy. Normally this is a trick that would be rewarded with fish, however this dolphin was not a part of the show, and so it went unnoticed.
After the show ended it was time for the lovely guests to have their photo taken with a dolphin. The dolphin who had just completed the show beached itself again, and laid there with its mouth wide open. People walked by and barely glanced its way, as if that was some sort of normal resting behavior. This dolphin did not get a fish either, though the trainer did sit on it for a moment... What a loving sign of affection.
Before heading home Leah and I decided to stop off at the cove. Because of the high wind and surf, the beach was covered in debris. I noticed a big green piece of plastic that had washed up on the rocks and when I picked it up to discard it, I discovered it was a bag. Now I had a bag, and saw a ton of plastic crap dangerously near a beautiful ocean, and so I got to work. Leah and I were able to fill the whole bag with bottle caps, lighters, light bulbs, miscellaneous colorful plastic chips, larger plastic pieces, styrofoam bits, wrappers, rope, etc., etc. We even encountered some questionable objects like a tiny glass bottle with a rubber top that I'm pretty sure was meant for a syringe... I guess there's a wide array of bad behavior that goes on in that place.
The beach was by no means 100% plastic free after our visit, that would have take many more bags, and much more time, but it was substantially better. As we were leaving, Leah made a very poignant observation; she said that people will continue to debate whether or not we should be in Taiji, whether they think our strategy is effective, and whether or not dolphin slaughter will ever end, but at the end of the day, we left this tiny beach a little better than we found it.
There is a great sense of helplessness that I've felt while being here. We bear witness to suffering day in and day out, and the only thing we can do is take pictures. If I could have lifted Jiyu out of his pen and taken him out to the open ocean, I would have. If I could put myself between the dolphins and dolphin killers, I would. But I can't do what I know is right; this approach would only get me thrown in jail. In order to be respectful of the police and Japanese law, which is immensely important to me, all I can do is document their pain from the sidelines, and know that I'm doing everything I can.
There's no law against spending an afternoon cleaning a beach, however. And it is of great comfort to know that I left at least one thing a little better than I found it, here in Taiji, Japan.
To the people of the Japanese blog:
Thanks for the photo change :)
In response to point 1), I can only speak for myself, however in my 2 1/2 weeks here, I have not met a police officer who I did not like. On the contrary, I've enjoyed meeting them all, and I have the utmost respect for them and for what they do. Obviously actions speak louder than words, and hopefully through your observations from afar (or maybe close?) you will learn that I mean no disrespect to Japanese people, and I hope to help facilitate an open dialog about why we are against dolphin slaughter by anyone, in any country. My time in your beautiful country will be coming to an end soon, for now, but maybe someday in the future our paths will cross again.