Ric Arrives in Taiji
By Mark J. Palmer
International Marine Mammal Project
Earth Island Institute
Ric O’Barry arrived in the town of Kii-Katsuura this Sunday afternoon about 12:30 PM. If you would like to see our 34 activists greeting Ric on his arrival, you can go to our Ustream Channel:
We will also broadcast with Ric from the Cove (weather permitting; it is raining now very hard in Taiji this evening, and the forecast is for thunder showers tomorrow – good weather for dolphins and bad weather for dolphin killers):
Noon Monday, Sept. 3rd: Broadcast from Taiji (Tokyo Time)
Masako Maxwell, our Dolphin Project Team members who maintains our Japanese website and social media, introduced our Japanese Dolphin Project Team members who have joined us this year to educate the Japanese people about the dolphin hunts and the danger of mercury-contaminated dolphin meat.
Masako Maxwell (in purple shirt) translates for our Japanese Dolphin Project Team members on Ustream.
Ric has flown from Miami after being stuck in court all week, although he told me he is very pleased with the efforts of our great pro-bono law firm. (If Ric and Earth Island had to pay for lawyers, their work would have exceeded $1 million over the course of this dumb lawsuit.) Ric is optimistic that we have made our case that the lawsuit has no merit and that the judge will throw the case out – a decision is expected on Sept. 10th.
As noted before, this is a frivolous lawsuit filed against Ric and Earth Island for $450 million because we opposed the import of twelve Taiji dolphins to a casino/aquarium in the Dominican Republic. Our protection under the First Amendment of the Constitution is at issue. The case has dragged on for years because of the opposition attorneys, seeking to break us. By dumb luck, the case finally came to trial last week, and Ric was unable to get away until this weekend.
Ric arrives and gets a big hug from Sakura Araki.
Earlier in the morning, we brought our Dolphin Project activists back to the Cove to learn more about the hunts, and we then went down to the harbor to see the dolphin drive boats, the Fishermen’s Union (which included a sighting of none other than “Private Space”, well known to those who watched The Cove), and the meat warehouse where the dead dolphins that have been killed in the Cove are cut up for sale.
When we finished with our Ustream broadcast, Ric went off to check into the hotel and rent a car for conducting our monitoring of the hunts (our buses leave tomorrow back to Osaka with many of our friends), while the rest of us headed to the notorious Taiji Whale Museum.
This place is right around the corner from the killing Cove in Taiji. And, as noted in The Cove movie, you really CAN buy whale meat in the Museum store! The Museum houses a display about whaling, the skeleton of a large rorqual, and many live dolphins and small whales (pilot whales, false killer whales) captured during the bloody hunts in the Cove and now living out their lives in small tanks.
We wanted to see how the dolphins Sad and Lonely were faring in the Museum as well as give our activists information about captivity for dolphins. (Sad and Lonely were two Spotted dolphins kept in a very small indoor tank at the Museum, until an international effort led to the Museum moving them to a much bigger tank outdoors.)
But when our group arrived to buy tickets to the Taiji Whale Museum, they refused to let us buy tickets. Our interpreter asked to see the manager, and the Deputy CEO appeared, telling her that they would not let people in to the Museum who opposed the dolphin hunts and that he would call the police. And indeed, he then called the police. (And he told them it was an emergency!) We waited politely as a group, getting video and still photos of this silly confrontation. About twenty or more police arrived. We explained our side, and the Deputy CEO explained his side. The police suggested a compromise – suppose we agreed not to take any video or photographs? We agreed to the restriction (not very happily), and our intrepid interpreter went back to negotiate with the Deputy CEO.
And he still would not let us in!
Our Dolphin Project Team activists stand around with the police as we wait to see if the Taiji Whale Museum will let us enter. They wouldn't.
We moved along after that, again not wanting to cause any scene and keeping away from confrontation. Such is the level of treatment one receives in Taiji from those who promote the killing and imprisonment of dolphins – they are the exact opposite of the many very kind Japanese that we have known on this trip. Even the police would not treat us poorly, and they did a very professional job keeping us safe on the beach in Taiji from the extreme nationalists who came to shout insults at us and threaten us.
We held our final dinner tonight with our whole group. Many will go home tomorrow, while others will stay on to learn how to become a Cove Monitor with our veterans. We toasted Ric with saké, and Ric expressed his thanks to all for coming to Japan to help the dolphins.
Individually, there may not be much we can do; but as a group, we have learned how strong an individual can be as part of a Dolphin Project Team. Our friends from this week are now family. We have shared tears, and we have shared laughs. And we all came to Taiji because of one person – Ric O’Barry.
The coast near the Cove in Taiji town.
Photos by Mark J. Palmer.
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