Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Taiji Take Two: Dolphin Base

Following the response of the livedoor blog's statement:

(livedoor blog)

To Heather,
Good to hear you admitting that you don't really know what's happening in Taiji, without making wild assumptions. You should ask yourself why pets stay around their owner. If you wish to have a conversation with Dolphin Base staffs, bring a good translater at your expense. (Don't assume they would speak/write to you in English - that's arrogant.)

Dear Japanese blog/Dolphin Base:

First off, apologies for the delayed response. I did not notice this comment until recently, and then it was a very stressful and hectic week of slaughters so I did not have the time to respond, but here you go!

I wouldn't go as far as to say I don't know what is happening in Taiji, because I see it everyday, but I will say that I don't fully understand the perspective and thought process of Taiji residents. I know what is happening, I just don't know why it is happening. And when I said in my previous post that I didn't understand, I was referring specifically to the 3 bottlenose dolphins enjoying a bit of freedom, and not understanding why or how. We can definitely make this a generalized statement, though, as well.

I would like to understand, though. I feel as if so many people look at this whole situation through their own eyes, their own way of thinking, and assume they have it all figured out. Clearly we do not think the same way though; we've grown up in completely different worlds and I think it takes more than limited observation of each other to understand one other. For instance, it's hard for outsiders to comprehend that there are in fact Japanese people who are against the slaughter but do not speak out, because it's not a big deal to stand up in other countries whatsoever. This is a completely foreign concept to us. But, with discussion, I think we can understand each other, and I think that would be very helpful to all parties involved - human and non human.

Now, on the reverse side of this, let's look at these 3 bottlenose dolphins. Unfortunately for them, we cannot have a discussion with them and 100% understand what they are thinking and why they do the things they do. The best we can do is to put ourselves in their shoes (flukes?) and discuss how we would feel, act, and what we would want, if we were in their positions. Now, it is in my personal opinion that they know what's best for them more than we could ever understand, so why wouldn't we just leave them be?

And no, I absolutely do not assume that the trainers at Dolphin Base speak English, and actually, I do have a translator and would love to have a 'get to know the other side' conversation with you (them?), if you would be open to it and could find the time. I have no intention or desire to sit down with you and simply pass judgement without really listening, so if you feel the same, I think we should make this happen! I will not be here much longer though, but again, you know where to reach me.

Now, one more comment for Dolphin Base:

I read this earlier today, and have taken it with a grain of salt because I did not hear the words directly, but I imagine the general idea is correct. Apparently the leaders of Dolphin Base have been in contact with the Fishermen's Union, asking that the pod of bottlenose dolphins currently being held in the cove right now not be slaughtered tomorrow.

Well, if this really is true, it is appreciated. HOWEVER, money will be given to the fishermen tomorrow, by possibly Dolphin Base, and certainly by other aquariums. I imagine the only reason these dolphins are still alive right now, as opposed to being slaughtered this morning, is because they are so popular in dolphinariums and not terribly common for the fishermen to encounter. Rather than just selling a couple to Dolphin Base, Dolphin Resort, and the Taiji Whale Museum, they can probably get many more aquarium representatives here and can sell quite a few and make serious money tomorrow. Then, when the profits have been made, why wouldn't they just kill the rest for meat that can be given away to local townspeople for free?

I can understand that you may be against the killing, but still want to purchase live dolphins, but do you not understand that if no one buys a live dolphin, and no one gives the fishermen money, they will not go out everyday looking for dolphins to bring into the cove? If there are no dolphins in the cove, none can be killed. Financially, they cannot afford this without the money from live dolphin sales. So please do not think that you should buy dolphins in order to save their lives (because those not purchased will probably be killed for meat), but instead voice your opposition to the slaughter by not financially contributing to it. Once you do that, I believe the drive hunts will end.

You've apparently asked the Fishermens Union not to kill dolphins tomorrow, and I'm asking you not to buy dolphins tomorrow. I think this subject is another 'unknown' between us that we can and should discuss.

Thank you for listening.


  1. Very well said Heather. We really hope and pray someone at the fisherman's union, dolphin base ... or both, will take you up on your offer to meet. Your devotion, knowledge and caring nature make you the perfect person to open some lines of communication.

    We're incredibly proud of you and so appreciate your dedication to this cause. Your passion is making a difference.

    Much Love,
    Mom and Dad

  2. I agree, a well thought out and written response. I am wondering if the dolphins did not swim away when let out, because they were "institutionalised" it happens very quickly, as I know form personal experience and I dont see why dolphins would be that different to any other species in that respect. Please look after yourself, it must be really stressful and you need to take care. big hug and a lot of respect to you. deb

  3. Hoping that some constructive dialogue comes out of this that helps both sides.

  4. What a debacle! Nicely worded letter, keep us posted on any response(s) you receive. One would think/hope that this will open up the door for an on-going dialogue so that both sides and perspectives can be heard. Know that we all support you and are behind you 100%! You are a strong girl, keep doing what you're doing and it can't help but make a positive impact! :)