Taiji 12： The Taiji Twelve
イルカ猟に関するJapan Times 記事 翻訳 2.14.07
By BOYD HARNELL
イルカ猟に関するJapan Times 記事 2.14.07
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A number of calves were in those pods. The females stuck close to them and swam around them in circles trying to protect them. But, after the nets were secured across the mouth of the cove, the drive boats left.
I left the cove and headed to nearby Shingu. There, I saw fresh dolphin meat being sold in a huge supermarket. It was in 350-gram chunks. This raw, mercury-ridden meat likely came from the dolphins I had seen earlier, alive in the cove. I had come full circle in witnessing the atrocity.
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Dolphin trainers in wetsuits soon arrived, signaling an intended live capture. A veterinarian official apparently from the Taiji Whale Museum also arrived, and appeared to be involved in selecting a few high-value "show" dolphins. Japanese trainers also participated in this. I now know that trainers often help conduct these selections in the capture cove or the killing cove. They see the slaughter. They witness the dying animals' convulsions. But when they leave, they reveal no emotion.
That morning, a half-dozen dolphins were chosen to be spared. They would most likely be trained for display. The others were moved to the killing cove and slaughtered. The lucky few were taken to holding pens in Taiji harbor. Their new homes will be in Japanese or overseas aquaria. Some would be forced to perform in spatial confinement. They would eat dead fish for life. But they'd escaped death in Taiji.
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The magnitude of that drive, and its aftermath, resembled the "ethnic cleansing" of a species. I drove past the slaughterhouse. Piles of guts and entrails were strewn across the floor. The mess was partially hidden by a tarpaulin curtain.
The next day, I saw only a few dolphin calves languishing in the bloodied cove. This was their sixth day of survival without their mother's milk. They must have been starving. The skiffs were pulling in the nets, ignoring the calves. Some larger boats carried the final, freshly killed dolphins to the slaughterhouse.
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I went to the Taiji Whale Museum to see if any calves were there. Beyond the main aquarium I spotted a small tank roped off in a restricted area. Three very young bottlenose calves were swimming in circles in the tank's filthy water. The smallest of the three lagged behind and was expelling water rapidly and very frequently from its blowhole and appeared to be struggling to stay afloat. Within a few minutes it disappeared. Ten minutes later, an angry museum official ejected me.
The tiny calf never resurfaced while I was there. I had filmed the sad event, and sent the images to two marine-mammal research scientists in the United States.
After examining the images, Diana Reiss, director of research at the Osborn Laboratories of Marine Mammal Science in New York, said by phone: "That baby's dead! . . . There's no way a (dolphin) baby could stay submerged for 10 minutes -- they usually come up two or three times a minute."
Neuroscientist Lori Marino at Atlanta's Emory University echoed Reiss's views. She said, "A dolphin baby can stay submerged no more than a minute without drowning."
Though museum officials afterward insisted the calf was safe, an informed source confirmed the death. Conditions there leave a lot to be desired. I saw two dolphins swimming erratically in the concrete show tank, and two more in an even smaller adjacent tank, while an orca (killer whale) was banging its head repeatedly against the barrier of its pen.
Most captive dolphins at the museum and in Taiji harbor were earmarked for export. A coalition headed by Ric O'Barry, a marine-mammal specialist with Earth Island Institute, said that 12 Taiji dolphins were being sent to the Dominican Republic, but the coalition was attempting to block their export.
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The capture and separation of dolphin calves from their mothers is denied by the Isana Fishery Union. When three U.S. conservationists met with the fishery cooperative last November, Akira Takeuchi, head of the Isana Union, was asked if they captured mother-and-calf pairs during drive hunts.
Takeuchi denied this, telling them, "If it happens, female dolphins with nursing calves are always returned to the sea."
This contradicts what I witnessed at the museum and in the drives. Captured mothers and calves were apparently always separated -- and the mothers usually slaughtered.
Hardy Jones, executive director of the campaign group BlueVoice.org, also met with Takeuchi. Jones told me, "Taiji is an extermination camp for the dolphins . . . I can see the day when Japan will wipe out all the dolphins in its waters."
Meanwhile, back in Taiji, tension was building among the Isana group. They monitored media reports of dolphin hunts. More foreigners had come to document the drives. More of the "security" types appeared at the coves.
Prior to my trip this time, O'Barry warned me he had received death threats. "One of the fisherman told me they would kill me if they could," he said, "and he made a throat-cutting gesture with his knife." Two Japanese activists reported similar threats.
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Within minutes, though, their fate was sealed. The pod was quickly herded into the killing cove. The doomed dolphins were an unusually large species. Some made steep dives, slapping their tail flukes violently on the water in desperation. Others leapt halfway out of the water looking for escape.
They were held in the cove for two days. Then, daybreak on Nov. 23 signaled their last hour. Britt and I waited at the cove in our rental car. The killers on the skiffs would be arriving soon.
Police suddenly pulled up in an unmarked car. They wore plain clothes, but told us politely not to trespass beyond the rail overlooking the cove. Later, another foreigner said police had told him he could enter the cove as far as the security gate. The rules were fuzzy. Paranoia pervaded the whole area.
Soon the Isana security squad showed up. The same "Skyline Bob" stalker was hot on our heels everywhere we went. Skiffs were edging the dolphins closer to the killing area. I was filming the dolphins' panic, and then I pointed my camera at our "minders." They resented being filmed. Some cursed at me.
Then all hell broke loose. A fight almost started between a foreigner and some minders. He'd tried to film the killing from the security gate. Two irate men charged him shouting "No photos! No photos!" The foreigner stood his ground. The pair finally backed off. No law bans photography in a national park.
The dolphins were killed within minutes. We saw the carcasses offloaded at the slaughterhouse. Workers were lax in hiding the bodies. A distinctive white dolphin we'd seen in the cove was among them. We saw its severed head. Its throat was cut.
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O'Barry said, "These fishermen are poisoning their own people . . . and the Japanese government does nothing about it." He added, "This is the second Minamata" [referring to the mercury poisoning through toxic waste of thousands in Minamata, Kumumoto Prefecture, in 1956].
Photo-journalist Boyd Harnell, along with The Japan Times, won the U.S. Humane Society's "Genesis Award 2005: The Brigitte Bardot International Award," for a Nov. 30, 2005 report headlined " 'Secret' dolphin slaughter defies protests."