The Butcher House

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The Butcher House

By Elora Malama on Truthout.org
September 2010

Truthout.org Editor's Note (9/28/10): A Teenage Activist... This Girl's Soapbox is a blog created by 16-year-old Elora Malama to document her high-school senior project about the annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. As seen in the Academy Award winning documentary, The Cove, each year the sleepy little town of Taiji becomes home to a horrific secret.

Moved by the film and her love of the oceans and dolphins, Elora decided to accompany her father (Scott West of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society) to Japan to bear witness to this practice, document it and experience the culture of the country, the town, and the people.

She has discovered that many people both in Japan and the rest of the world are unaware that each year dolphins are rounded up and those not chosen for a life of captivity are brutally slaughtered and their mercury laden meat is sold to the public.

Today looked like it was going to be a wonderful day! The fishermen didn’t even go out hunting, because of a thunder-storm that was at around 3am this morning (about the time they decide whether or not to go out). We did have to say goodbye to Christy today, but we really appreciated her time here!

We checked the Cove several times throughout the day just to ensure that the fishermen didn’t go out in the late morning. But it was silent. Day 5 with no dolphins in the Cove! So Sonja, Matthew, Robin, my dad and I went to get another battery for my camera. Good thing we did! It saved my butt today! The new one came with about 20mins of charge on it.

So, now the ugly part:

Driving back from the electronics store, we decided to make one more stop at the dolphin pens so Matthew could do a blog video. It’s a good thing we did. We happened to stumble upon them transporting the last dolphin from the captive pen, to the crate that would ship it to wherever in the world it was going. We flew out of our car so fast that we didn’t even notice that two police cars had pulled in behind us. I was completely oblivious, all I had seen was the same police officer we always talk to and I knew he was talking to my dad. It didn’t really hit me something might be up, cause they are always around. Once my battery died, I ran for my new one to see if it had any juice… when I turned around I got a bit of a shock. A squad car and two in uniform police officers. What was going on? They wanted Sonja’s passport… we don’t really know what they wanted-they were just there. It was strange. But still, they didn’t stop us from filming. Once the dolphins were in the crates and we couldn’t see from the hill anymore, we rushed down in the car to the dock. The fishermen were pissed! We were allowed to walk freely on their “territory” when the government had made us out to be criminals. I walked right over all their stuff to get a better view of the truck leaving. They were all putting away the nets… The cops were there so I felt much safer. It wasn’t the most comfortable situation. Ha! I thought that was uncomfortable…

We got in the car to follow the truck. It pulled into the next port over, where the butcher house is. We pulled into the parking lot, filming from our car because we had lots of angry fishermen around us. Eventually they all circled our car yelling at us to go away and taking our pictures. The police jumped out of their car SO FAST and ran over trying to calm the conflict down. We were told to leave, so we did. We pulled around the corner into a small parking lot, so we could see which direction the truck was going to go. Or “trucks” I should say, at this point we had found the other one. It wasn’t till someone came out of a building in the parking lot and yelled at us to leave. So we did. We drove past the fishermen once again… and then headed to the Dolphin resort. Matthew wanted to do another block video there. Two police-men followed us. They walked behind us to the back of the Dolphin resort building. One of the cops was curious were the dolphins were kept. So we showed him the pens, and told him that about twenty-two were leaving it those tiny spaces. He didn’t say much, but he was very interested. Which was great!

This afternoon reminded how crazy and scary this really is. This group of 30 men are not happy we are here… and the police are in a awkward situation because they have to guard us from them, while they are asking “why are they allowed to walk free? You said they were criminals”. I feel bad for the police they are only trying to do their job.

I’m sorry to be reporting bad news. You have no idea how excited I was to say, “I’m happy to report there is nothing to report”…. But life can really slap you in the face sometimes.