By Michael Dalton, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Taiji Campaign Leader, 9/4/10
Dolphin lovers from around the world are now starting to converge on Taiji. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society crew members will not be the only dolphin defenders here for long. This afternoon, some twenty newly arrived people will be meeting in the town with inflatable dolphins in tow. More westerners, as the Japanese Coast Guard today referred to them, will be arriving over the coming days, weeks, and months, including high profile celebrities.
As an unassuming silver Toyota sedan sits outside with two Japanese Coast Guards inside, it is obvious they take the Sea Shepherd presence here very seriously. After being followed and stopped this morning by the Coast Guard and the Japanese Police we have concluded that they have one concern on their minds: are the Sea Shepherd crew going to cut the nets again as they did in 2003? I was warned subtly that arrest would follow if I did. They know who I am.
Last night, we staked out the harbor where the dolphin pens are located. Guards were positioned in four vehicles on two points overlooking the pens with headlights and spotlights on the pens constantly, guards changing every hour. The fishermen are on red alert here, and they are convinced that Sea Shepherd will once again launch a successful strike against the nets.
Today we did a drive by to check the nets, the cove, and the pens in the harbor—there were no nets up and all boats were accounted for in the harbor, including a small blue vessel with a harpoon which we have not seen before. There was no movement around the pens.
Their paranoia now is immense.
The fishermen did not go out and hunt yesterday and have not gone out today.
What Ric O’Barry is doing in Tokyo with the media is good. We need a diversity of approaches here. The good cop, bad cop strategy so to speak. Speaking to the media in Tokyo and presenting the petitions are all good moves, and Sea Shepherd supports Ric O’Barry as we always have.
Our call to put boots on the sand here at Ground Zero in this campaign is meant for one purpose only—to get as many people who say they care about the dolphins and are able to get here to come here.
If a hundred people could be here throughout the ordeal faced by these dolphins, the killing could be significantly reduced, if not stopped altogether. These dolphins should not have to die out of sight and out of mind. It does not have to be the same hundred people. People can come for two weeks or even a few days and then be replaced by others. Surely compassion for the dolphins can bring bodies to Ground Zero here in Taiji.