Sunday, January 8, 2012

Day One of Kerry O'Brien's 2012 Visit to Taiji

Len Varley, Ric O'Barry and Kerry O'Brien

Bearing witness for Dolphins.

Day one in Taiji. We met a beautiful cold dawn this morning with the familiar knot in it was hot tea only for a quick breakfast. 6am we drove to Taiji, 10 mins away from where we are staying. We were met by a slow driving all lights flashing police car, who didn't stop us, but were observed. The familiar drive for both Len and I took us past the fisherman’s union where they all were standing around their morning fire smoking and talking. We drove on to the Taiji lookout point, keen not to hang around. I climbed the familiar steps to a higher lookout to pray and send healing energy to the oceans and the beloved Dolphins.. As dawn broke, out through the harbor filed 11 banger boats. It was a good clear day for hunters and fishermen. At the same time 3 well-polished and extremely polite policemen arrived to check our passports and ask questions. This year we have to fill in a form as well. Why are you here in Taiji? A direct question. that I answered truthfully. To observe, document and pray for the Dolphins who swim past Taiji. The head of the police was at great pains to make clear they were here to keep the law of Japan and to at all times remain impartial.  Three very well mannered , respectful young men. They left after checking us out and in a flourish Pica Dilly, Masako and Ric O'Barry arrived. Joyful greetings took place then we turned to our business of the morning, the hunt.

All too soon the boats lined in formation and it was clear they had a pod. It took about an hour for them to drive them in. We all watched anxiously, I was begging the universe, sea Gods, higher beings to let the dolphins escape. This was not to be. Ric was ustreaming live from where we were explaining what was happening. Maybe it was jetlag and the shock of being thrown into the raw cold, cruel Taiji morning that had me confused, but I didn't realise at the time the ustream was live. I heard Ric talking away to the screen in the distance, as I watched the boats drive the dolphins closer and closer. I stared to grow very cold and to shake. This is what happens to me when I witness this horror. I can sense and see the dolphin’s confusion and terror and my own body reacts to it. Last season, I would stay cold for so long that only a long hot bath and copious amounts of hot tea would warm me again. And here I was day one, reliving the experience. Ric came to talk with me and ask me questions about my whale stranding experience and how it felt to be here in Taiji now. It was so lovely to meet Ric this morning. He is even more kind and gentle a man that I had imagined. His presence and wisdom I found reassuring.
Dolphin bodies leaving The Cove

The pod of around 12-14 Striped Dolphins was now being driven into the cove. I watched in horror as the dreaded nets drew them in and the first of the dolphins were dragged by divers under the tarps. The remainder of the pod waiting their turn, panicking and getting tangled in the nets. The fishermen casually tried to untangle them but not fast enough for my liking. Meanwhile a Dolphin was up against the rocks injured and bleeding. A skiff attempted to drive over the dolphin and hold it up between the rocks and the boat so that we couldn’t see. However, we could see the drowning, suffering dolphin flaying around. The attempts to hide this cruel and wicked deed failed miserably. Soon the blood from the Dolphin colouring the water gave his horrible deed away.
We had been looking out for calves and hadn't seen any, until as the nets were being drawn in towards the killing place, a baby flipped over the net in a desperate attempt to escape. Sadly, the young one had flipped over to the tarps side of the net and quickly disappeared, dragged under the tarps. Other Dolphins were grabbed by their beautiful tails, tied up with rope and degradingly and heartbreakingly dragged under as well.
We waiting in respectful silence and heard the terrible thud, thud of bodies being carelessly tossed into the skiffs, which then appeared from under the tarps and drove out of the cove to the butcher’s house. Pic a Dilly said to me we need a wailing song at this point. I may just sing one myself the next time. Sadly there will be a next time. And for the next two weeks, I will be here, with my friends, standing, documenting praying, bearing witness and telling the world about the fate of Dolphins of Taiji.

Kerry O'Brien.


  1. Tears streamed down my face reading your article, Kerry~I watched the first ustream and also when Ric met up with you~Then, no more video as the killing began (conspiracy?,hmmmm)...not that I wanted to see it 'live' anyway. The recorded videos of the event is devastating enough. I admire your strength and courage. I propose a date and time when ALL of us can collectively direct our thoughts and ask the universe, Sea Gods and the higher beings to protect our sea family...
    Denise Foster

  2. from Rob Miley~ can you pass this on, " Rob Miley
    how do i get my hands on an ice strengthend 200foot diesel powered vessel and convince 8 to 10 people to join me in forming a group to take these japanese whalers on . i worked at sea for many years , i can handle any vessel sial or powered up to 150 200 feet, i been sailing since i was a kid all sorts of dinghies and cruisers, and powered vessels , I WANT TO TAKE THESE FUCKERS ON. GONNA NEED TWO NAVIGATORS, AN ENGINEER , A MARINE ELECTRONICS EXPERT, AND A FEW DECK HANDS, FOOD FOR 10 PEOPLE FOR A COUPLE MONTHS AND A FUEL BUDGET, A GOOD SKIPPER AND A A GOOD RIB DRIVER (ME). AND OF COURSE MONEY FROM SOMEWHERE TO KEEP THIS OPERATION GOING. ANYONE INTERESTED GET IN TOUCH. BELIEVE IT OR NOT THE VESSEL ITSELF WILL NOT B THAT EXPENSIVE THERE ARE PLENTY OF THEM OUT THERE, BUT RUNNING COSTS WILLB THE HURDLE. BUT IM TELLIN YOU NOW, IF I GET DOWN THERE , THE WHALING BUSINESS WILL B RUNNING FOR HOME. PLEASE PLEASE ANYONE WHO KNOWA ANYONE WHO CAN HELP GET IN TOUCH. tiaji cove and japanese whaling are what i have decided to dedicate whats left of my life too.