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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Re: Orca Capture In Japan....A Letter of Concern by Nicolas Entrup

On January 14/11, while in Taiji, Japan, I asked a film maker if he knew how Nami, the Orca was doing. Had seen her last year at the Whale Museum in Taiji; but she had since been sold to the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium. Was told that she had died that very day, January 14th. Thought it strange that I should enquire about her on the very day that she died; so I did a little research on Orcas in Captivity and came across this very well written "letter of concern by Nicolas Entrup"

Mr. Entrup says"that even though the letter is many years old, many of the aspects are still valid and it includes very useful information. we definitely need to watch out whether the institutions in Japan do also look for new orca being captured and brought into captivity".

*While I was in Taiji, was told that a permit had been issued for ten Orca capture this year....but, have not been able to verify this information.

*Found this info on FB "Stop the Wild Orca Capture":
Mr. Kazutaka Sangen, Taiji town mayor, announced his plan to capture more orcas and send them to Dalian and Beijing for more "scientific research" to improve relations between Japan and China.
He expects that the governments of the two countries will permit and support this orca-trade.

*Another report by Mark Bramberry of Taiji Action Group on FB is that no permits have been issued in Taiji for Orca Capture

Orca capture in Japan - violation against Convention on Biological Diversity (CoBD)? (by Nicolas Entrup)

While international conventions as e.g. the Convention on Biological Diversity are signed by several countries, it is very questionable if the actual capture of the ten orcas in Taiji, Japan, is in agreement with that Convention.
It is my understanding that the capture of 5 orcas was permitted by the Japanese Fisheries Agency for scientific research". Olivier Fabre of REUTER`S writes within his MARMAM message that an official of the Izumito Sea Paradise, which has rights to one of the two whales still awaiting transfer, said they purchased their female for breeding purposes". Fabre quotes: At Izumito we are currently raising a male killer whale, and we are interested in breeding,'' said Masatoshi Mano, head of public relations".
Therefore there are two arguments given to justify the capture.
To capture an orca for a captive breeding program is within the CoBD a purpose for an Ex-Situ measure. Criteria for Ex-Situ Conservation are listed under Article 9. Therefore basic criteria for any Ex-Situ program is that it is predominantly for the purpose of complementing In-Situ (protection within their natural habitat) measures. Are there any In-Situ measure steps undertaken by Japan to protect Orca within their natural habitat ? Are there any In-Situ measure steps undertaken by Japan to protect that specific Orca Pod ? If not, taking these orcas are not fullfilling the basic criteria of the CoBD.
Further it is important to look at Article 9 (d) which states regulate and manage collection of biological resources from natural habitats for ex-situ conservation purposes so as not to threaten ecosystems and in-situ populations of species, except where special temporary ex-situ measures are required under subparagraph (c) which states adopt measures for the recovery and rehabilitation of threatened species and for their reintroduction into their natural habitats under appropriate conditions".
Orca Pods are sighted infrequently in Japanese waters. The size of the population is unknown but probably very small. Destroying even one orca family could cause great harm to the Japanese orca population. It is my understanding that NO scientific evaluation of this specific pod and the Japanese Orca population has been done before granting the permit for the capture and before the capture itself. The capture of almost a whole pod will cause extinction or even do enormous harm to this pod. Such an operation is a threat to the In-Situ population and therefore violates against the CoBD.
It is my understanding that till today NO research application has been made by any of the involved dolphinariums. So we have to look at the argument that the orcas got captured for breeding purpose".
As an Ex-Situ measure has to complement In-Situ measures I assume that the captive breeding population and so the programs must be self-sustaining. Several amusement parks and zoological gardens argue that their breeding programs are self-sustaining. Therefore I would like to know why they have to capture orcas from the wild if these programs are successful? Having a look at the reproduction of captive orcas in Japan we have to face the fact that two birth have been recorded. One calf survived about 10 days (conceived in the wild) and one live birth which died the same day. To start (!) talking about a successful captive breeding program assume that the captive population breed regularly in the second and third generation and then it is still critical if the population is self-sustaining. As reproduction of captive orcas is NOT self-sustaining, captive facilities are no valid Ex-Situ measures!
Looking at the statistics of already captured Orcas within japanese waters and taken for amusement parks or zoos, an extremely high mortality rate is fact. From about 14 captured Orcas 11 are already dead.
Regarding Artcile 9.c, we have to be aware that till today NO amusement park or zoological garden has ever released an orca back to its natural habitat.
Summarizing the listed facts I personally come to the conclusion that the actual capture of Orcas in Japan violates against CoBD and has to be stopped. To minimize the damage which is already been done to the wild population these animals has to get immediately released back to the wild and measure steps implemented to protect Orcinus Orca in Japanese waters.
I ask the zoological gardens and amusement parks to dissociate officially from such operations! Also I ask the Japanese authorities to revoke the permit which was given to capture five Orcas and release the captured animals.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Torturous death

One can vaguely make out the fishermen holding the spikes that they are about to drive into the dolphins.

Sound of Flapping Tails Scream of Agony

The dolphins are being brutaly murdered under the tarps by fishermen driving spikes into their blowholes, resulting in a slow agonizing death.  Even the birds are feeling the dolphins' suffering.

Frenzy of Terror

Even the birds can be heard screaming...sensing all the terror around them.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Fish don't talk"

Dolphins love to play...and so do the wild, dolphins bond through play. I spent half my day playing with the dolphins at the Taiji Whale Musuem...running back and forth with them like a twelve year old.  It was great fun! Each time i stopped to take a of the bottlenose dolphins would come up to me and chat. The dolphin knew that I had no fish to the chat was more about friendship. At one point i reached my arm over and my dolphin friend turned on it's back as if to say "do not be afraid, you can rub my belly"... and it was a sweet gesture of trust; a remarkable act of forgiveness towards humans. Please see video below...where my dolphin friend does one of his/her chats to me in between our play though saying "Do not stop! Let's keep playing!".
While having breakfast at my hotel in Osaka, Japan, on my way to the airport, I chatted with the hotel's chef. We talked about the depletion of the oceans...he mentioned that when he calls in orders of sea food that sometimes they are unable to deliver the quantity of sea food that the restaurant needs. The chef asked me a question as i was leaving...."sorry to ask; but, what makes dolphins different from just another fish?".

Update On The Little Striped Dolphin

I have reluctantly left Taiji, Japan, stayed as long as I could in California on my way home. I have footage and photos that i will be adding soon from my stay in Taiji, Japan. While i can no longer check in on the little striped dolphin myself......some friends still in Taiji will be doing so for me. So i will report back here on the latest.  So far....the little striped dolphin is still hanging in there, a testament to it's "will to live"......and now in a tank with the bottlenose dolphins. Credit must go to the Whale Museum, if this little one survives, as it is extremely difficult to keep striped dolphins alive in captivity due to their refusal to eat. 

Please see video below...of when the two striped dolphins were taken into captivity. I had mentioned to a friend that day..."one looked stronger than the other". Sadly three days later one of the striped dolphins died...depressed, traumatized.....and of starvation as it refused to eat.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Taiji Dolphins' Tails Tied Under Tarp

I apologize for the poor quality of this video; but my camera which I am not too familiar with was trying to focus on the leaves of the bushes which surrounded me.

Horrific deaths

As i write, my hands still shake from the horror. Saw things that will haunt me for  life. The dolphins are not killed swiftly without excruciating pain...they are taken from life....fighting...breathing hard....bleeding....screaming...and flapping their tails in extreme agony.  Like any family....and friends, they also tried to help each other and sticking together. I wish they were mean to humans....but they are such innocent gentle souls which are taken advantage of. When the fishermen came for them...part of the family tried to hide and to escape around the rocks before they were dragged away.  I have never seen this kind of brutality or terror in a being. The brave harpooners from the past would be horrified at what this practise has evolved into...the mass suffering.... the mass killings.

My camera lens was blury because i was around bushes and had trouble focussing in with my lens....but i filmed what i could.

Update on the missing Juvenile dolphin

Sad news: It is unlikely that the young striped dolphin is living...and now the  other little one swims alone awaiting comfort...with it's family brutaly killed. Earlier today, they introduced a pacific white sided dolphin for campanionship....with the white sided dolphin making noises swimming around the little one. Then the white sided dolphin was removed...perhaps they need more visits with each other until they become friends. The little striped dolphin remains in the pen swimming alone and scared.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Missing Dolphin

One of the two striped dolphins from the Whale Museum is missing.  There is speculation that it may be in quarantine being force fed.  In an earlier blog I mentioned how they were not eating, in spite of the efforts of the dolphin trainers...sadly, striped dolphins have a history of not surviving long in captivity.  Will keep you posted on this little one's condition.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Simulating Ocean Waves in a Tiny Space

 Spent some time alone with the bottle nosed dolphins at the Taiji Whale Museum.... made friends....ran with them...and they let me in to their secret world when no one was around. Dolphins have amazing imaginations...and they are magicians! They shared with me how they can turn a tiny little pen into their own little wavy ocean. Some people say that they would rather be killed with their family than taken into captivity to die a slow death. I can understand this...but i see that every dolphin there makes an effort to comfort each other...and to struggle to live and to find happiness in the smallest of ways.

This last week has been tough....there is no sleeping in fact, will probably never sleep an entire night for awhile after witnessing the horror and loss of many of my sea friends. The pain of this loss has ripple effects throughout Taiji....the mental health of men who kill the dolphins and the people who bear witness. Tuesday, two baby dolphins were taken to the Taiji whale museum...after their mothers were brutaly killed. The babies are terrified...not swimming correctly...and weak as they are not eating and lost without their mothers. It appears that they are striped dolphins.  Striped dolphins are known for not doing well in captivity...they usually refuse to eat and die within a couple weeks:(

 On this day i had passed a note to free the babies and mothers....but it was ignored. Instead, the trainers at the Whale museum are having to try to get these babies stable before they die. At one point it looked like one of the babies ate a fish...and the trainers all clapped their hands in relief. In fact, one of the trainers even shed a tear of happiness.....i could see that some of the trainers gathered around the babies with empathy of their trauma as right now they need special attention. Howerver, without their mothers' love at this fragile age, they may not survive...or may not want to survive.

Update:  Apparently they are not babies; but very young  dolphins.... the striped dolphin is a smaller species than the bottle nose.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

This morning when i heard that the boats went out again....really did not have the emotional strength, but returned to Taiji again in an exhausted daze. Not sure how the fishermen are able to put themselves through in, day out, driving and killing dolphin families.....this has to affect one's mental health when causing such suffering to intelligent beings, the dolphin people. 

Arrived too late at the Cove, the fishermen had already driven in another pod of dolphins...and the boats were already going into the Cove to begin the slaughter. Friends of mine were returning to the hotel...and since i felt sick to my stomache knowing what was about to occur...and had to leave. Believe in witnessing their valient struggles to live; but not sure of the ethics in witnessing the actual killing(not that we can really see the slaughter)....remember last year, how one of the dolphin killers enjoyed my distress.  Later heard that four dolphins tried to escape (they have to know what is about to happen)....jumping up onto the rocks...injuring themselves and suffering a slow painful death.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Running through the clock of death

Yesterday morning, awoke to news that striped dolphins were being driven in to the cove. Was given a ride to Taiji by a friend. Ran up the steps of the cliff which overlooked the pod that were trapped. I could see small fins swimming tightly with their mothers....and could hear them taking panicky breaths. I knew from the last family of dolphns killed...that i would have to act quickly to TRY to save them. 

The other night, had a note translated for me from English to Japanese...which read "Please spare the lives of the mothers and babies". Wanted to give this to the fishermen's union in hopes that they would consider my plea. So started to run along the sidewalk...towards the union. A car passed by....passed again...then again. This time i waved.  They pulled over....and I approached the car  recognizing one of the men as a coast guard who had asked for my passport earlier. He got out of the car...opened the back door...insisting for me to get in. Knew i had done nothing to be arrested for...and do not believe that coast guards arrest anyways. So was not sure why he wanted me in the car. More than likely, he was trying to insist upon me not walking, alone. The second time i said "no"...he said "Please!"..waving me to get in while i was nodding NO...and said "sorry, i do not get in cars with strangers".  A Japanese family stopped, looking my way with concern and then they left.

Continued jogging over to the fishermen's union. Running along the sidewalk with my note, passing many local people...almost everyone smiled saying"hello". Almost like running a marathon with people encouraging me to continue. By the time i drew nearer, i was tiring and having trouble getting enough air (it has been awhile since i ran like that). Just before the harbor near the fishermen's union, i had to stop and catch some air, could not breathe...with that,  had visions of myself as a dolphin being speared and then dying of suffocation...( later found out that's about when the dolphins were being killed...the fishermen paralyze and then suffocate them by blocking their blow hole).

I found myself running up to someone around the corner of the fishermen's union....and showed him my note. He told me he was only a fishermen...and pointed me in the right direction on where i could drop it off. I went to the other end of a building which ended up being the dolphin slaughter house. Two men came out...and i respectfully approached them with my note. I was standing at the edge of the slaughter house...trying to show my note to two men smoking as they waited the arrival of the dolphin carcasses. Their eyes were glazed over not wanting to look at my note. I found no hope...or consideration in my plea to spare the lives of the mother's and the babies so i left.

On my way back, decided to that i would drop off the note to the Taiji Mayor office. Entered and took a seat beside a lady to await my turn...wanted to be ultra the office has been hassled in the past with no result. I was not there to create drama...or confrontation. When someone was available i passed along my note. She and a gentleman took my note...and we all bowed to each other as i left quietly.

When i returned to the cove discoved the entire family of dolphins were killed:( And that two babies were ripped from the family and taken into captivity(but they were at least alive). I also heard that one dolphin jumped the net...and got away...but swam away's fin staggering. Another upsetting report was dolphin was so jumped onto rocks breaching and injuring itself....shaking, then dying on the rocks. Was told that when a fisherman pulled it into the water by the tail, the dolphin sank to the bottom....

Today was a difficult day. 

The majority of the people who live here are loving and thoughtful. Taiji would be one of my most favourite places in the world if not for all this bloodshed:(

A Mermaid and Wild Dolphins

Not sure where to start... have not posted for a couple days and have many things to write about.

Spend time riding around on a bike...going to the onsens...and meeting local people. Every day i spend here, falling more in love with the they begin to accept me more and more.

There are many people with organizations who have come and gone in just the short time i have been here. Have made some good friends among those like-minded about wanting to understand the people and their way of help the dolphins and the community.

A local invited me to drop by his coffee shop. So stopped by with another girl staying here...who is very sweet and introduced her to him. He made us fresh coffee and we enjoyed chatting with him...learning about what it is like to grow up here...and he shared with us that he does not eat dolphin. And his dream is to one day see "wild dolphin watching" tour boats gliding amongst wild dolphins just outside the harbour. He even drew us a picture of his vision.  He said he would also love to have a statue of a mermaid overlooking the dolphins...and laughed saying..."you, mermaid, you, mermaid!". And he went on to say that i could feed fish to the wild dolphins. My friend who lives in Autralia then spoke of an Island off Australia which is a tourist attraction, because of the wild dolphins and people feed them fish. And I mentioned how funny that he should talk about a mermaid statue...because while staying in San Clemente, California, i stumbled upon a "mermaid/with dolphins" statue outside a coffee shop i went to each morning...and each time i walked by, it felt like the mermaid was bekoning me to return to Taiji.  I like to believe that many other locals share his dream.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Sad Day In Taiji

This morning rushed to a lookout point...the banger boats were out...and driving in two dolphin families.  One family of bottle nosed dolphins were being pushed into the slaughtering cove...while another family of Risso dolphins were being chased out at sea.

So emotionally exhausting...watching one family fight to escape and another being manipulated easily to what ultimately would be into a death trap. I jumped in a car from the lookout go to the cove.  Felt panicky, as though, I too, were being driven into the cove.

On reaching the cove... hiked up to a cliff....trying to see what was what. At the top, I looked down on a family of terrified bottle nosed dolphins swimming tightly together. They would surface for air gasping with exhaustion. I felt ill...and could barely breathe myself, knowing this family would never be together again. Just as i began to film with my iphone,  saw legs under the trees walking towards me....fishermen i thought, and it was a little scary. But when two Sea Shepherd people appeared...breathed a sigh of relief. A girl from Sea Shepherd said they would probably be killed soon. Last year, I saw that they would keep them over they kill them shortly after they are driven in.  Some of the organizations travel in pairs and have walkie talkies....a good idea i my life was in danger last year, after finding decapitating booby traps...intended for me (given i was the only one here...and on the path i took). However, this time, the police, coast guards, dolphin groups were around...and that was nice to know.  My deep fear and sickness, however,  was for the lives of the dolphins.  While hiking back down the cliff,  passed  fishermen on their way up to where I had left the Sea Shepherd crew.

A police officer approached me...asking for my passport...which was back at the hotel.  He said that I was breaking Japanese law by not having it on my person. Told him that i had no idea it was against the law...and that i would be worried about carrying it in case I lost it.  And showed him how I carry everything in tiny pockets and i think he understood. We came to an agreement that i would carry my driver's license with me instead. Then asked the police officer if the mothers and babies could be spared...he told me that is not part of his was out of his hands.

Went to the other cliff in Tsunami Park and encountered a fisherman guarding the area. I knew that the dolphins' time was coming to an end...and that was why he was guarding the area. I tried to talk to him about the mothers and babies; but do not think he understood English....and with the way he looked at me i knew I was barking at the wind. So i went back down the cliff...back towards the cove. Passing a man watching me from a truck.

I put my head down on the fence...feeling hopeless and helpless. Soon people were pulling out and i knew it was too late....

Was soon approached by a man wearing a coast guard t-shirt. He asked if my name was "Leslie-Ann Gervais...the fencer". I asked him how he knew this...he said "internet". He asked me some long are you here for? Are the fishermen giving you trouble?  I said "No"...told him how much i loved dolphins...that as a surfer, I was often out on the water with them.   And he seemed to care about dolphins too!  We shared a chat about how they love to play and swim alongside and under boats.  While still chatting...the boats started to emerge from the cove...gathering up some netting...tried to carry on my conversation with him... holding back tears. He saw me struggling and then I believe that  i saw that....he was holding back tears as well.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Little Taiji History

The Whalers of Taiji began to use harpoons in the 12th Century; before that people had to depend on whales washing ashore.   During the mid 1800's, Western Nations moved in, decimating the coastal whale populations and wasting so much of the whales; like the sealers of Canada who take just the fur pelts from the seal pups they slaughter while the Inuit people of the North waste nothing .  The people of Taiji looked on with the same horror that we now do when we witness the dolphin slaughter.  They turned to the pilot whales and other cetaceans for their survival. 

From the Internet:  "By 1822, thirty ships were whaling off Japan. By 1846, together with Russian, British, Dutch and French ships, as well as the big American whaling fleet, there were seven hundred or more vessels hunting off Japan, killing right whales, humpback whales, grey whales and sperm whales in great numbers. However, unlike the shore-based Japanese, the foreign ships had no use for meat or bones, and certainly not for entrails. They killed for oil, baleen, and what little ivory came from the sperm whales. To the Japanese, the wastage of those years is a horror story."

But I feel certain that the dolphin drive must be replaced with something...such as Eco Tourism built around such local attractions as the Dolphin families swimming by, Onsens, Surfing, Kayaking, Hiking, the rugged beauty of the area, and much more.  There are now roads and rail lines into Taiji;  the people  no longer need to depend strictly upon the sea for survival, if they have alternative employment.   In my opinion traditions should revolve and evolve around keeping nature in balance...Ninja philosophy is "harmony with nature".  And if Organizations from the West can offer a helping hand; all the sooner the dolphin killings will end.  While surfing Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa....would awake at dawn and marvel at all the different species of dolphins and whales breaking the surface....making life more beautiful.