Blog | Weather Is Key to Dolphin Survival

Weather Is Key to Dolphin Survival

November 20, 2012 by Ric O'Barry, Earth Island Institute

By Tia Butt
Cove Monitor
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

I am obsessing about the weather here.  Every night and every day I check the weather, for the winds, how many miles per hour they are going etc., but of course this is because I am anxious every day for the welfare of the dolphins that are migrating anywhere near this place called Taiji.

I checked the weather as usual yesterday morning early, as I had done the night before, but there was no change.  The weather report said no wind and clear.  Those two combined is not good news for the dolphins.

So unfortunately, it wasn't good news at all.  The banger boats were in clear formation and driving dolphins in at about 9:30AM, and that familiar ache in my stomach started, as they drove them in closer.  This drive was faster than the one before which went on for hours; this could have been because the previous pod had a juvenile with them, and we know that dolphins travel in families that carefully protect their babies.

This pod the hunters drove close to the Taiji harbor area within one hour.  I was standing at the seawall watching and going live on our Dolphin Project Ustream channel that I have just started doing. 

Soon enough they were into the Cove.  There were no juveniles – they were all large beautiful Risso’s dolphins, around 13 of them.  They were being pushed and shoved by skiff boats under the tarps, and of course were frightened as they could probably sense the death that was before them.

I was Ustreaming live to an audience hoping that they could see what was going on, but was commentating on events also, as I know how difficult it is to see anything from the vantage point directly over the killing Cove, because of the overgrowth of trees and shrubs.

What I then witnessed was something that I have never seen before, and it has greatly shocked others here, too.

A dolphin that had tried to escape had got caught in the net.  I was staring at it commentating to viewers on Ustream, but was also  hoping that what I was looking at wasn't real!

A skiff boat and diver were in the water, up close to the net.  I could see the lifeless body hanging there, this beautiful dolphin's head stuck in the net, where it had tried to get away.  The killers and the diver were roughly trying to manhandle this beautiful animal out of the net.  They got the dolphin free, but it was lifeless; it had drowned.  I was in shock but kept letting the viewers know what was going on.  The dolphin killers then dragged the body with a skiff with the diver holding onto it, almost covering it up with the diver’s body away from cameras and lenses, and they dragged it under the tarps where the rest of the pod were being slaughtered.  It was a real-life horror show before my eyes.

I have seen dolphins stuck in nets, and I have taken footage of it, but to see one dead before my eyes in the nets – one that has tried to escape as it was so scared and frightened – has haunted me since yesterday.  To be honest I cannot get this poor dolphin out of my head.

I know what I am going to see when I come here, so I prepare myself, like everyone does, but some days are worse than others.  And yesterday was most definitely one of them.  But I turn my pain into determination.  It may take a day or so, but scenes like yesterday’s and others that I have witnessed is what brings me back here.

Today the winds were even less, the weather clear, but the dolphin hunters of Taiji got nothing.  They came back with nothing.  I obviously was relieved.  Yes I am still thinking of that dolphin that died in the net all alone trying to escape the evil killing Cove, but this dolphin along with the others is what keeps myself and others determined to see an end of the bloody waters of the Cove.

I am updating Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project page on Facebook everyday  with posts and pictures with events as they happen here, also follow Dolphin Project on Twitter.

Thank you for all the support and messages, I am happy that the dolphins have an army of support behind them

. ...for the dolphins.


Photo of Risso's Dolphin courtesy of US Naitonal Marine Fisheries Service.

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Weather Is Key to Dolphin Survival