Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Path to Video

If you want to follow what's happening in Taiji, I recommend Nicole's blog, A Path to Protect. She's added a video blog where she answers questions. It's a really nice touch.

We are enjoying eight dolphin safe days in a row at the cove. I hope the dolphinermen stay on holiday through new years and resolve to never kill or take dolphins again... a guy can dream.

For the souls of the oceans

Monday, December 20, 2010

Property of

(Photo by Karl Goodsell)

The sign says, “All dolphin and whales inside this net are property of the Isana Fisheries Association.” They put this up the day after I left Taiji and it’s been bothering me. One day, up on the point, Andreas Morlok asked, where do the dolphins go after the hunt? I had no idea. These two things worked on me. Where did the dolphins go and who are they the property of? If the dolphins go somewhere else maybe someone else has a claim on them. I asked Jeff Friedman if he knew where the dolphins that swim past Taiji go when the killing season ends. The answer came back, China, Taiwan, Palau, Korea, French Polynesia, and Philippines. Do these countries care that Taiji is claiming these beautiful, intelligent creatures for their own and kill them?

Maybe we can get these other countries to put some pressure on Japan to leave their ocean bound citizens alone. For the small group of humans know as Isana Fisheries Association to claim them as their property is absurd. They are the freest of all beings on the planet. We need to make sure they stay that way.

For the souls of the ocean

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Life Changing

I was a Cove Guardian for a few days in December. After watching The Cove, I had to go. I really can’t describe the feeling. I’ve never had it before. I’m glad I followed it. I met some amazing people, was introduced to a new culture and saw some horrible things.

(Photo by Rupert Imhoff)
It was an honor to stand shoulder to shoulder with these people. Many countries were represented: USA, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Australia, and France. The dolphins have no nationality but so many think the dolphins belong to them. Even those of us that think they should swim free feel an ownership or duty that we need to protect them from others claiming ownership.

After a beautiful train ride, I joined the four guardians already at the cove. Photos

On my second day at the cove, we visited the fish market and watched a banger boat race to rescue a capsized skiff. It was a good day for the dolphins and a bad day for the fishermen. Photos

Day three brought a large pod of nearly 100 dolphins to the fishermen. The feeling of helplessness was overwhelming as I watched the well orchestrated maneuvers of the banger boats. Occasionally, a puff of black smoke is released and you know that the pod is on the run. But, the boats are too fast and the technique of the fishermen is too well practiced. The day is pretty well explained in these photos. That night, Martyn and I returned to the cove to sit with the surviving dolphins. I was hoping just to meditate while listening to them breath. It was then I realized how important these beings are to these fishermen. Security was tight and noisy. Not a place for a quiet vigil.

The next day, we arrived at the cove before sunrise. Floodlights replaced the feeble flashlights from the night before. I’m sure they thought a black ops team was going to release the captive dolphins. There is so much potential for this to be a beautiful place but then, before sunrise, the killers returned to the cove and the ugliness returned. Once the gutting barge was in place, we moved to the hill above it. Watching the blood poor into the pacific, I wondered how this was different from beef or chicken processing. I wonder if those places will let me take photos of their process. Photos

On my fifth day in Taiji, we passed the gutting barge docked near the road and stopped for some close-up photos. The boats were out and it looked like they might have something on the horizon but after awhile, they all raced in. We learned that some dolphins were transferred to a truck while we were watching the boats on the horizon. I can’t help but think the fishing boats were a decoy. If I go back, on days that the boats are out, I’ll stay in town to keep an eye on the evil that happens there. When we got down the hill, they were working on the gutting barge. We moved in without a plan other than to get some photos.

My last day at the cove, was a quiet one, a dolphin free one. We went to the Dolphin Hotel so Andy could see the pens. I saw these on my first day but the pain I felt seeing them this day was intense. I know how they get here and what happens to the ones that don’t make it this far. Photos

I left Kii-Katsuura for the Buddhist mountain village of Koyasan. I put my iPod on shuffle and the first song that came on, as the train passed Taiji Town Station, was One Wing by Wilco.

We once belonged to a bird
We cast a shadow on this world
You were a blessing, and I was a curse
I did my best not to make things worse
For you

One wing will never ever fly, dear
Neither yours nor mine, I fear
We can only wave goodbye

To me, this song now represents our relation to the planet, to our relationship with dolphins specifically. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to hear it again without tearing up.

It took four trains and a bus to get me to Koyasan. I was a little concerned about the train connections until I realized that I just needed to get off at the time my on itinerary. The Japanese are that precise. At the Koyasan information center, I was able to find a room in a temple. I drug my suitcase down the street and turned into the temple 15 minutes later. I got goose bumps over my whole body. It was nice to feel that kind of energy after the week I’d had. I was given the tour and shown my room in half understood Japanglish. At precisely 5:30 pm two men came to my room and escorted me to dinner. I was taken to a private rice paper walled room. There were four trays of food laid out in front of a cushion on the floor. I asked and was reassured that it was all for me. The care and compassion I felt as I ate, was overwhelming. The next morning I went to the meditation. I wasn’t sure what to expect. The room was ornate and freezing. A monk motioned to the mat. I sat. After about five minutes of chanting one of the five monks moved in front of the room and was talking in Japanese as the rest kept chanting. Next to the monk in front was a box of scrolls and a sign, 3000 yen. The monk approached me and placed a knotted string on my wrist, tapped in three times and said happiness. FINALLY! I found happiness. I was shown 3 little places to pray and how to add incense to the hot sand. Each had a place for money. My 15 minute meditation was over and my two men were waiting outside to escort me to breakfast. Breakfast was in a bigger room with only three trays of food. I was joined by a young German family and a monk. After touring the graves in the snow, I checked out of my room and started my journey home. Photos

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


It's hard being a Cove "Guardian." You watch. That's all. You can't do anything to free the animals or stop the boats. The police are watching your every move. There are as many fisherman recording your actions as there are fishing/dolphining. If you want to go to jail in Japan, by all means come here and do your worst. Otherwise spare me your, "you should do more" crap. Even Paul Watson has said that Sea Shepherd will not break Japanese law. BUT then he writes this in his blog.
"I will not abide by a whale being killed in our presence. Two years ago, the whale that was killed and featured on Whale Wars was slain 12 miles from my ship and filmed from our helicopter. I would without hesitation place my ship in harm’s way to save the life of a whale. We cannot be expected to sit idle while a child is being molested, a woman is being raped or a person is being murdered. What kind of person would simply stand by and hang banners or take pictures while a puppy or a kitten is being stomped or kicked to death? We will not do so in the presence of a clear intent to murder a whale by these despicable poachers from Japan." - Captain Paul Watson, SSCS
Taking pictures is the best the the cove guardians can do when these
atrocities happen. Nicole captured this video of a baby dolphin separated from it's mother and tied to a skiff. To suggest that Nicole or any guardian is sitting idle is doing them a disservice. I still haven't recovered from what I saw and wish there was more that I could do. We came, we saw, we share, we discuss, we look for solutions.

Sitting idle... for the souls of the ocean

Sunday, December 12, 2010

back to normal

I’m going back to work tomorrow. Not sure if it’s the time change, jetlag or lingering effects of what I saw, but I’m sleeping a lot during the day. My head is spinning day and night with what to do next and trying to not lose hope for the dolphins. I’m also looking closely at my impact on the planet and how to reduce it.

No dolphins were killed in Taiji today, an empty victory. The killing continues through March and will start again next September. Taiji is just 10 percent of the total dolphin hunt in Japan. While I was in Taiji, I heard that the drive fishery had started up again in Futo. There’s no end in sight. In the short time I was there, we watched the fisherman change how they hide what they do. They are also using a killing technique that severs the spinal cord, making it safer for the fishermen and reducing the amount of blood. Activists need those blood photos and videos to enrage the masses and get them off their asses. The fishermen know this and are limiting our view and the amount of blood. Today, I saw a video of dolphins in a boat heading straight to the butcher house, still moving. I don’t want to think that they are still alive. It’s killing me. We have to stop this.

So, for me, it's back to work, keep calling embassies, write letters, poke around and see what else I can learn. I just watched the Seahawks lose so things are getting back to normal.

For the souls of the oceans

Thursday, December 9, 2010

“We’re half awake in a fake empire” – The National

I heard this on my train ride to Koyasan. It fits on many levels and in many parts of our life. It seemed particularly fitting on this trip. It is time to wake up and start paying attention to what’s real.

In the battle to save the dolphins, it seems that there is much infighting and disagreement. I see this in many groups working together on a cause. I worry that the dolphins will suffer because of it. Some of the fighting may create stronger, smaller groups. One person I met over there, Karl Goodsell, is a marine biologist. Karl will be there for the next 3 months to talk with the locals and get an understanding of the issue from their point of view. I wish him a good journey and will be following him on Facebook.

We need all types to stop the dolphin slaughter in Taiji. We need the warriors, the artists, the intellectuals, the mystics, the scientists, dolphin lovers, economists, politicians… Everyone needs to work their angle and be a voice for the dolphins. Use Facebook and other tools to meet with like minded people. Share your thoughts and actions. You don’t need a protest day to go hold a sign or hand out fliers. Even independent bastards like me can spread the word. You never know how far that word travels and who might be listening. I believe that everything gets done via relationships. We just haven’t tapped that relationship yet. Keep working, talking, posting, make a connection.

Louie Psihoyos got to me with The Cove. Who will you inspire?

For the souls of the ocean

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Learning Experience

I’ll try to piece together the last three days in a meaningful way. Let me just say that my eyes are opening and I really need to look at my own life. I have come to a foreign country, without knowing the language, to show the world the horrors that are here. It is awful and I hope it stops before there are no dolphins left. But, I’ve learned it’s me that needs to change my little piece of the planet. Sure, I’ll continue to call embassies and draw attention to these issues but I need to focus of the some good things in the world and clean up my life before I get in anyone’s face.

Three days ago, after a short wait at the point, we saw a huge pod being driven in. So many, they made a wave as they tried to flee the sound of the banger boats. For a moment, we saw them make a break but the boats are just too fast. They belch black smoke and circle the dolphins back to the direction of the cove. There is a precision to what the fishermen do with these big boats. They’re like cattle dogs or cutting horses. The keep driving the herd, I mean pod, the direction they need it to go. We moved to watch them funnel the animals into the cove. The boats are close enough to hear the banging. It’s relentless and the dolphins can’t escape it. They are driven into the cove. The dolphins swim in the netted off cove while the fishermen prepare the killing cove. They work fast. Then they start to drive the dolphins in by motoring backwards at them. The fishermen are yelling, the motors are racing, the dolphins are breathing hard and are moving in the only direction they can. Once in the killing cove, the sound of the motors is replaced by the sounds of bodies hitting the sides of boats. Then, after what seemed like hours, the banging stops and the boats move slowly back into the cove for the next group. And the process starts again. The breathing and tail slaps increase as the boats move past.

One baby circled the cove, away from what remained of the pod, looking for its mother.

The day was long, and it left a hollow feeling. That evening, Martyn said he was headed back to be with the dolphins that were in the cove. He let me tag along. I expected to go to a dark cove and sit quietly and listen to whales breathe. What we got was very different. There were people everywhere and really bad flash lights trying the light up the area. Martyn and I moved past the chatter toward the beach. A local police moved toward Martyn and asked, “Did you eat dinner?” Martyn explained the events of the day had made it impossible for him to eat. The cop chuckled. He came toward me. I don’t know if it was what we witnessed today or if it was his chuckle to Martyn, but I snapped a little when he asked me if I had dinner. I asked, “Are you the fucking dinner police? What difference does it make if I had dinner? Did you have dinner? Did you eat dolphin?” he said, no no. I have not had dinner. Oh the poor guy was hungry.

There was no quiet at the cove. You could barely hear the survivors in the water just yards from us. Cars were racing on the street, people were chattering. The shit was stirred up. It became clear to me how important this drive fishery is and how these people will protect it. It’s their livelihood.

Some fishermen above us shined flashlights on us. Martyn asked three times to please stop shining the flashlight in his face. On the third request, I marched up the hill with my surefire pointed right in their eyes and I didn’t stop until I was inches from one guys face. The man couldn’t get his video camera out fast enough. The dinner cop was back and pushed me away saying, no trouble, no trouble. I said, tell him to put the light down. OKOK NOTROUBLE NOTROUBLE. Right! Tell him to put the fucking light down and we will back away. OKOK NOTROUBLE NOTROUBLE. It was clear the first move needed to be ours. We moved back to the beach. The flashlight was still on us. After about 2 minutes the cop was chewing out the guy with the light. I realized that the cop couldn’t say anything while we were there. It would be disrespectful. I have so much to learn.

The next day, we arrived at the cove before dawn. Flood lights had been setup on the beach since Martyn and I left the night before. This made me smile. I could hear the pod. Soon the killers arrived and prepped the killing cove. It was different today the first boats left with bodies in slings to be sold into slavery. Then the gutting barge passed on the horizon.

We moved up the hill to get a view of the gutting barge, it was in clear view. Unfortunately, they saw me and moved the barge closer to shore. We still got to see blood in the water. People want to know how many or what kind are killed each day. What difference does it make? Yesterday, I saw a baby swimming without its mother. For me, that one death, a mother killed infornt of her baby, was too many. The banger boats approached to drive some dolphins out of the cove. This really made no sense to me and then I remembered the film crew. I bet they were on the boats to show how compassionate the fishermen are. Or, maybe mourning dolphins stay close and attract other dolphins? Who knows what goes on in the head of these butchers? I watched the pod break into two and then I saw the baby, swimming alone moving further away from the others. The bangers kept driving them and the baby too. From my vantage point, it looked like someone sweeping off their front porch.

Yesterday, the boats were out. They had a small pod but lost it. As we left our post, we saw a crew working on the gutting barge we swooped down on them with cameras and righteousness. They quickly moved the barge and the cars sped away. Some of us blocked a couple cars. They would not back up. I assume, not backing up is a point of honor. If one fisherman won’t back his car out of honor, how can we expect the drive fishery to end when there is no way for them to save face? This is an industry that supports this village and families and children. We need a plan for them. We need to look a couple of moves ahead. Yes, it needs to end, but let’s do this with compassion for all beings including the ones feeding their families by killing dolphins. Many won’t agree with that statement, many here don’t. I’m fine with that. I need to find my own way.

Today was my last day at the cove. It was a good day in that no dolphins were killed. It was bad day in that at least one dolphin was taking into slavery. I wonder if the boats went out to distract us, keep us watching the horizon while they loaded up a body. These are smart people. I’m using a computer and camera that are made in Japan. I believe we need to find a way through respect. That will be the direction I’ll go. I am glad that Sea Shepherd is here to raise awareness. I’m glad I came to see what’s going on.

Tomorrow, I’m off to Koyasan to hang out with monks for the day and hopefully stay in a ryokan. The next day, I fly home. Hopefully, I’m a little wiser from this trip. It’s been a water boarding of my reality. Thanks to everyone that has shown their support for me on the journey and to everyone that has been making calls and sending emails and letters. Keep up the fight! Make the calls and send the emails. Go into the consulates and see if you can strike up a conversation with someone in person. Find common ground and build from there. Calling them up saying, I wish you would all die, is not going to get you very far and in the end does the dolphins no good at all.

Also, take care of yourself. For your sanity, stop watching the updates. They don’t matter. The hunt is going to happen. If no dolphins are killed today, that’s great but in the big picture, it doesn’t matter. Ten years from now when your child asks, where did all the dolphins go? Are you going to say, they were all killed, but on December 7th, 2010 no dolphins were killed in Taiji, Japan?

For the souls of the oceans

Sunday, December 5, 2010

no time

It’s hard to find the time to do it all here. My internet has been sketchy so uploading photos and keeping up the blog and Facebook and reading other guardian’s blogs has been challenging. If you come here, have a phone with an international data plan, it’s worth it, it’s for the dolphins. I rented a plain phone with an embarrassing ringtone that works sometimes and has been nice for staying in touch with home, during the 3 hours that we are both awake at the same time.

How do I get you caught up? How do I share the bizarre emotions that race through me every second I’m here?

I’ve got some stories to share and will get them written at some point. For now, please have a look at my Facebook photos and share them with folks if they will help tell a story. At the bottom of the page, you can click on high res for better quality. It’s for the dolphins!

Photo’s from December, 4th

Photo’s from December, 5th

For the souls of the ocean

Friday, December 3, 2010

First Day on the Job

After a hot can of coffee, we headed to the cars. The first stop was to check out the Kii-Katsuura fish market. I think I may be a vegetarian now. When I get home, I want to go see where everything that I eat comes from.

The feelings driving up to Taiji were mixed, on one hand I didn’t want the boats to go out so the dolphins would be safe, on the other that’s why I’m here, to record what’s happening so that the world can see it. At first, we didn’t see the banger boats at the dock. But after a closer look, they were there. They were all in the harbor. What a perfect gift for Kim’s birthday.

At the end of the harbor, I got out of the car to take some pictures. While I was photographing the butcher house, men in 2 cars and a scooter came right at me. I was careful not to go past any of the no trespassing signs. They went running past to the banger boat. My heart sank. I was sure that they were going for dolphins and at the rate they were going this pod must be close. Martyn, Kim and I drove up the hill to see where they were headed and to keep an eye out for the other boats. So far none had joined them.

Martyn had his binoculars up and a huge smile came over his face. I can’t write what he said because he’s a Brit and his English is a little sketchy. Roughly translated, a boat has capsized. Martin radioed to the others and let them know what was happening. Soon, all of us were on the hill watching the rescue of the small craft. Again the dolphins were safe and Kim’s birthday could be a happy one.

Later that afternoon, we raced back to Taiji to witness the transport of dolphins. Apparently, one of our crew had seen a crane in position. By the time we returned it was gone. A trained dolphin or two are on their way to a new prison. I’ve heard that one of these trained dolphins sells for $300,000. When you drive around Taiji, you see a huge industry feeding a small town. Ending it will put stress on the economy. It reminds me of the spotted owl in Washington State and how efforts to save it from extension nearly wiped out the small logging community of Forks. Since the book Twilight, Forks is fine. Maybe we can get someone to write a vampire book set in Taiji.

The fact is this economy is based on an evil, immoral act and it needs to be shut down. The lucky captured dolphins are sold into slavery. Most are slaughtered and sold labeled as whale meat. Nowhere on the label is the mercury content listed. The slave market and meat sales are really just a side benefit to ridding the ocean of a fierce competitor for fish.

I have hope. Looking around the dinner table, I saw young, compassionate people from many countries, fighting for what is right and just in the world.

More photos from the day can be seen here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I was dying for a cup of coffee this morning. Unfortunately, the two Starbucks in the airport were closed at 6AM. Back at the hotel, I asked where I could get a cup of coffee and he pointed to a small store around the corner. I looked everywhere for a coffeemaker. Not finding one, I asked and the woman who pointed to a case on the back wall with lots of little cans. I said, No Hot. She said, Yes Hot! Well I’ll be, they are hot, quite hot. I grabbed a Tully’s and another one in case the Tully’s wasn’t so good. This is part of the fun, not being able to read labels and taking chances on new things. The Tully’s was fairly good. The one called Boss, not so much.

So far all the people have been very helpful and they laugh at my in ability to communicate and my lack of bowing etiquette. Other than the moments of panic from not being to read or understand anything, and the periodic thoughts of why I’m here, it’s been pretty enjoyable. I kind of like it.

I grabbed an earlier shuttle out of Kansai Airport than the woman at the JR office suggested. I thought the additional time would be helpful in Hineno. It just made it more confusing. Hineno is very small with 4 tracks and no Starbucks. With a little help and lots more bowing, I was able to find my track and was told several times where to stand. I think they like order here and having an XXL American wandering around instead of standing on his #5 is a little too much for them. All is made better with more bowing and smiling.

The Ocean Arrow

The train from Hineno to Kii- Katsuura cuts through some very beautiful country. I love the terraced farms and ocean views. Unfortunately, the locals have seen it all before and draw the curtains so I have to peak here and there. I’m looking forward to being away from the relentless recorded voices of the airport and hotel giving me instructions I can’t understand everywhere I went. With about an hour left on my train ride, I found an empty ocean side window seat. The views are fabulous. We passed many fisherman fishing for fish. I saw a large dark cloud ahead. As soon as we pulled into the Taiji Station it started to rain. The happy, sunny train ride was over.

The next stop was Kii-Katsura. I was cursing myself for packing too much. But, it got lighter when I saw Thomas’s smiling face at the entrance of the station. Outside, Martyn and Mia were waiting. If you make this trip and wonder how you’ll recognize the cove guardians, don’t worry, they all look alike.

I got “the tour”. The happiness I felt from the train ride and helpful people along the way was gone. This is place a of death, a place without compassion.

For the souls of the ocean

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

San Francisco to Osaka

11 hours and 43 minutes went by surprisingly fast. I was in the middle seats of the triple seven so if I wanted look out the window I had to go to the emergency exit and peek out the little porthole. I watched a funky movie called Smash His Camera about a paparazzi named Ron Galella. I wouldn’t run and put it on Net Flix but there was this quote, “…many more photos are taken of celebrities than of famine, war, or other important things happening around the planet.” He added that this makes it the most important type of photography. I strongly disagree and am proud to be part of a group taking pictures of those other things. It was a fairly uneventful flight. I could see the snack cart in business class. An older man with a big coat kept getting up and filling his pockets with chips and pretzels. The guy across from me opened his window somewhere over Japan. I got a pretty good look at Mount Fuji. We circled in just before sunset and got to see the fog in the hills just like in the paintings. The sunset over the terminal was stunning. I stopped to pull out my camera but thought I should continue the march toward immigration.

When we first got off the plane, it really didn’t feel much different than the international terminal in San Francisco. Even the voice on the train was similar. Only here, the Japanese is first. Once we got off the train and headed down in to immigration, it all changed. The huge room was as stark as most all immigration entry points but English was very rare, like just “Foreign Passports.” Which makes it very easy to navigate; you just follow the words you recognize. Weaving through the line I wondered if I was seeing any other guardians. We need a hand gesture or something. I got to practice bowing with the guy queuing everyone up. Often I left too much space between me and the person in front of me. Bow. He smile and laughed a little.

I picked what would become the longest line at customs. I do that to lines. I should have moved when 3 other men joined my agent to talk with Osama bin Laden’s cousin. Then there was the woman that had to empty her luggage cart to find her passport. The guy in front of me gave me a look. I told him it was my fault, I do that to lines. He said, “I do too.” We were doubly doomed. When it was my turn, I think the guy was f’ing with me. I could not hear his broken English under his muffled voice. He gestured to my bag and asked me to open it. He then flipped through a binder with pictures, found the one with the marijuana photos and asked if I had any of that. So far this has all been very bizarre. I can’t imagine being stoned too. I said, no, we packed up my bag together and I entered Japan.

I need to pack for the train and am bummed because I wanted to tell you about the table of Businessmen, smoking and drinking and the one that looked like Elvis (hair, sideburns and boots) with the wall of blue shimmering Christmas lights behind him. And the plastic food. And how most of the women look like little girls (helo kitty?). And my hot can of coffee this morning… Tully’s from Seattle. But instead, I’ll suggest that you go read Elora West’s speech to the Japanese Media.

For the souls of the Ocean

The First Leg

My flight from Seattle to San Francisco left an hour late. I hate it when the jetway returns to the plane. My thoughts usually go like this; I’m going to be escorted off the plane, they are going to fill the empty seat next to me, or worse, something is broken. Then man in the orange jacket gets on carrying a headset, no clip board or bag of parts. I wonder if this one of those big, deplane issues or maybe it’s just a fuse. He was in and out quickly and the pilot didn’t tell us what the issue was so I’m sure the man in the orange jacket just jiggled something and it was all good. This is going to make my connection in SFO a little tight but better tight than to have something bad happen at 37,000 feet.

The last month or so, I’ve been hearing, you’re brave or I wish I could or… I’m not brave. I’m just following a need, a calling I guess. What I didn’t do was listen to all the logical reasons not to go and there are many. I had air miles saved up, vacation time and a supportive wife so maybe it was easier for me. If in your gut, you know you need to do something about something, follow it. Push past the barriers and logic. Do what’s right!

There really is no bravery here. I feel what is happening to the dolphins in Taiji is wrong and I need to see it for myself. People ask me, “What do you hope to accomplish?” Well, I want to end the slaughter of all marine mammals worldwide. On this trip, I simply want to see what’s happening firsthand and blog about it. The more people there getting the word out, the more attention it brings to the issue. The more attention, the easier it is to change.

Dolphins are smart and have strong family ties. They live their entire lives swimming free in the oceans with their families. This hunt, on a migration route, is like grabbing families out of line at Disney, cutting their spines and drowned them in front of their loved ones. If they didn’t drown, they are gutted alive. It’s curious to me that dolphins don’t fight back. They have the ability to but choose not to. I think we have a tremendous amount to learn from them and since they won’t fight back, I’ll fight for them as best I can. But, I’m not brave. I just can’t sit at home watching TV, thinking, that’s not right.

(We are now making our decent into SFO)

Monday, November 29, 2010


Time is short today but I want to take a minute and share some great blog posts.

Taiji Dolphin Action Group shares a report from Japan that will increase worker safety and decrease pollution associated with the kill. Nothing about ending the kills associated with the kill.

Scott West's take on the Embassy of Japan's First Secretary, Shuya Nakatsuka's letter to ten year old William Dubord who just left the cove.

Carrie Dubord shares her thoughts on her last days at the cove

Martyn Stewart is welcomed to the cove on a barbaric day.

Elora West writes about finding the Nisshin Maru.

The boats are out. Make your calls. Send your emails.

For the souls of the oceans

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Energy You Put Out

Last month, I was really on the fence about going to the cove, but I kept getting little signs. One day, I was flipping through a magazine and stumbled upon an article on the area around Osaka. It struck a chord; I looked into tickets, and booked a flight. I sent emails to Sea Shepherd telling them I was coming and offered to ferry anything they may need. I didn’t know where I was going to stay or how I was going to get to the cove. The email I got back, spelled out everything. With the trip pretty well mapped out, I was able to follow the blogs of other cove guardians and get a sense of what’s coming.

Last night, as I was watching the Oregon Ducks win another game, an old friend called. We hadn’t talked since taking Tai Chi together over 3 years ago. I was telling him about my upcoming trip and he said, “You should see if any of the Buddhist Temples in Seattle are connected to ones in Japan. Maybe you can sit with a monk over there and see if there’s another way to approach this.” Great idea! So last night and this morning I hit Google and sent out a rash of emails to temples here in Seattle. I wish I had started this sooner. I leave Tuesday.

I remembered the article I’d read last month and the beautiful Buddhist Temples in the area. I found the article, the name of a monk and I was back to Google and sent more emails. I finally tracked down someone that could put me in touch with a monk in Japan. More than the contact information, the support that I got from this person was amazing. I still haven’t heard back from the monk, but I’m getting closer and getting fueled for this adventure with every email.

I love how things fall into place with just a little bit of energy.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Hard Act to Follow

Have you been following the story of Carrie and William? This diminutive single mom and her 10 year old son from Dallas changed their vacation plans after seeing The Cove. Their heartfelt blog lays out their journey and is worth a read. The day before they were to leave, as the dolphins were being driven into the cove, Carrie jumped into the water and swam toward the nets. This caused just a bit of a stir, a skiff was driven at her. The man in the boat held up a sign. Police came. She returned to the shore on her own and was given a waning. Scott West’s blog shows a strong police contingent at the cove the next day. As he says, “They were taking no chances today with Carrie on the loose.” This makes me smile. He goes on to say, “One has to wonder if this is a good use of Japanese taxpayer’s money for it seems the money would be better spent providing job re-training for the molesters.”

My wife is convinced that if a man were to jump in the water that the police would cart him off. I really don’t have time for jail right now so, I won’t find out if she’s right or not. I’m looking forward to being there and being a voice for the dolphins. As this video says, you should too.

Save Japan Dolphins from Mark Berry on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It’s Thanksgiving in Taiji

A week from today I arrive at The Cove to bear witness to the slaughter of dolphins by Japanese “fisherman”. I hate that my first trip to Japan bypasses some of the most holy land in the country. There are many ancient Buddhist and Shinto temples in this area. My train will skirt past these temples and take me to where some 2000 dolphins are slaughtered each year.

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the cove guardians bearing witness and sharing the details of this horrible practice with the world. I’m especially thankful to Carrie, who, after witnessing the slaughter of the dolphins, dove into the cove. She was detained by police in front of her ten year old son and later released with a warning. This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that I’m married to a wonderful woman that loves dolphins and whales more than I do and is supporting me on my journey.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Leah's Video: The Taiji 3–A True Story

Leah Lemieux made this video after her recent return from Taiji. It's hard to watch but it reflects why I have to go.

You can read more from Leah on her blog, Rekindling the Waters.

Waiting to Hear

Right around lunchtime the reports from Taiji start to come in on whether or not the boats are going out. These past weeks my walks to lunch have been a little less happy knowing that the boats are out or from reading reports from the slaughter of the day before. The reality of the situation starts to take it's toll on you.

It was 17 degrees this morning. It rarely gets this cold in the Seattle area especially not this early in the season. Our attention went to the birds in the yard this morning. Do they have food and water. It's important during these harsh conditions that we make sure they get what they need.

So, while we are waiting to hear, make sure you get what you need. Take a walk, eat well, be with freinds... You (and I) need to stay healthy and strong to keep up the battle.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Nine Baby Dolphins

One of Steven Severson’s goals on his trip to Taiji was to find out what happened to the nine baby dolphins that were captured and taken to the Whale Museum. I believe the short answer, roughly translated, was, “what dolphins?”

The great news is that for four straight days, no dolphins have been driven into the cove. Yesterday, the boats didn’t even go out. This allowed the guardians free time to see the Whale Museum and try to find out the fate of the little ones. The following blogs paint a pretty grim picture of the place.

Steven Severson writes about Disappearing Dolphins. You can also follow Steven on Facebook

Here 10 year old William shares the tears his mom sheds seeing the dolphins in small tanks.

Elora West drove the the guardians to the museum but stayed in the car. I completely understand and support Elora's reasons. At the same time, I’m thankful to the ones that did go in because now I don’t feel a need to see it. They did a fine job documenting the carnage and pain in that place. Elora is on Facebook too.

Scott West writes on ecology and adds a call to action. Please help if you can.

It’s my turn a week from Thursday.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It's Wonderful

I love the reports from Taiji that announce the boats returning to port without dolphins. It means a day without families being slaughtered. The reality though is that it’s just a day. The Japanese are determined to kill whales and dolphins. They have over fished the Blue Tuna to near extinction. It really boggles my mind that Japan, an island nation, wouldn’t take better care of the waters and life that surround them. Japan should be a leader in ocean health. They could stop their over fishing and whaling practices and then get in the world’s face about cleaning up their act. Instead, it seems we are in a race to use the last of everything.

12 days

Friday, November 19, 2010

if not me...

It was a good day in the Cove yesterday. The boats returned empty handed.

Reading this news on Scott West’s blog, I was thrilled. Then I glanced at the photo at the bottom of the page and see that there are only 6 Guardians now. A young man, William and his mom have just arrived at the cove. William writes a heck of a blog. You can follow him here. If you're passionate about this or another cause, take the leap. Give up some of your vacation time or frequent flier miles and go be part of it. If you can't find the time but still want to help, there are Guardians looking for support. Scott has a list of future Guardians on his blog. Sponsor someone. It will make you feel good. I promise.

I’m looking forward to joining the guardians next month. I wish I was there now and could stay longer. But, life just seems to get in the way. In the meantime, I can write letters and make phone calls. It’s time that we take whales and dolphins off the dinner table around the world and let them live in peace.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Do I Really Want to be a Cove Guardian?

I read the blogs from those at the cove and I wonder, what the hell am I doing? Some of these folks have been witnessing the slaughter for months and it appears to be taking its toll on them. How will I do? I’m not an activist. I’m just a small businessman drawn to this by some unknown force. Here’s what the bloggers are saying today:

A Teenage Activist

“How does one start a blog… when they are so disgusted with humanity that they can’t even think straight? I have a lump in my stomach and I can’t get rid of it… I want to break down and cry, but I can’t…. I am so disgusted with being human… I have lost all faith I ever had in humanity. It’s something I cannot explain, us Cove Guardians can’t even explain it to each other. This feeling. But we all feel it, and we all know how it feels.”

Big Gunns missions

“A message to all you tough guys out there that could care less. It doesn't make you tough to be able to stand there and watch this without feeling something. What it makes you is heartless and I feel sorry for you.”

Photographic Activism

“Just when we think watching a dolphin slaughter can't possibly get any worse, it does. Today was probably my worst day yet in Japan. A horrible day to usher me out of the country.”

Memoirs of a Cove Guardian

“Words cannot describe the thoughts racing through my mind today...The atrocities witnessed on this day are causing my blood to boil. If any trace of respect for these disgusting men remaind in me, it has now been removed. For those of you who believe that I should try to understand and work with these murderers, you really do not have a concept of the deranged actions that these killers are capable of.”

Maybe when you have to do something, wanting to or not has to take a back seat. If I don’t do it, who will?

Please make phone calls, send emails and faxes, and let them know that you want this to end.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Bloody Day in the Cove

With the bits I can piece together from Taiji today, over 50 dolphins were driven into the cove, nine babies were taken to the whale museum, and the rest were slaughtered. The “fishermen” work fast. I try to find the head space these men are in. I have to assume that they don’t know about the complex family structures or high levels of mercury or hear the screams. I’ll be at the cove in two weeks, I’ll get to see the men that do this and look them in the eye.

There’s a big gap between those that think these beings are as intelligent as humans and deserve to swim free in the ocean with their families and those that see them as food, entertainment and competition for fish. We need to narrow the gap.

Here’s a video from Big Gunns today, it's lunchtime on the gutting barge

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Taiji Five

Lisa and I were trying to piece together our first awareness of Taiji. In the file cabinet, Lisa found copies of her work including the incident when 10 orcas were driven into the cove back in February 1997. Five were selected for aquariums, the Taiji Five. She was working with Bob Chorush, Paul Spong and others at CFN (Cetacean Freedom Network) to craft letters and organize efforts to free this family. The story is tragic but it’s interesting to look back and see activists embrace the power of the internet and media. Lisa was interviewed in our home by KOMO TV and afterwards they sent a crew to Taiji for a firsthand account. It lead the local news for days. I wish we had a copy of the interview. Lisa came off great. The poor Japanese embassy spokesman looked confused. It was a small victory and nearly 14 year later, we’re still fighting to end the drive fisheries. It’s important to keep fighting. As Will Anderson said at the Japan Dolphin Day Protest in Seattle recently, This will end.

Here's a video showing the capture and updates from the ten year anniversary.

I am so impressed with these mammals. They are known to kill great white sharks and whales many times their own size yet they allow their captors to contain them and to violently separate them from their families. It makes me think of the nonviolent ways of Gandhi or the Dalia Lama. I wish the orcas and dolphins would fight back, but they are probably more spiritually evolved than I am.

Great news from the cove today, the boats came back empty!

No Blood, No Problem

I've been wondering if the “fishermen” have made an effort to reduce the blood and screen their activities from the public. I remember seeing video of the slaughter in the early 90s and the blood and screaming of the whales was more vivid and intense than in the movie The Cove. It looks to me that efforts are being made to cover it up even more after the movie. The local blue tarp dealer must be doing very well. There is still blood in the water and screaming dolphins and babies watching their mothers being killed. It does seem that they are making an effort to reduce the blood. I saw a video of them dragging two dolphins until they suffocated. No blood.

I saw this in Scott West’s Blog today, “I learned from a reporter today that the molesters are under pressure from the Japan fisheries department to better conceal their activities from our cameras. It seems that the pressure on the embassies, consulates, businesses, and other governments is being felt in Tokyo. Keep it up! Every time dolphins are pushed into the cove, let them have it. Every time there is blood in the water, let them have it. Not only do the molesters want to hide from us, but so too does the government.”

Covering up the carnage might make it harder to gain support from the public but it doesn’t make the slaughter any less horrible. Here’s a list of email addresses and phone numbers. Be heard. Don’t let them hide.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Good Day at the Cove

According to Elora West, the boats returned without dolphins today. It would be wonderful if this is how it went every day that I'm there.

I'm trying to figure out how to rent a car while in Japan.

Maybe I'll take the train.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Japan Dolphin Day International Protest

Seattle October 14, 2010

This was the day it started for me. Lisa has fought for the whales for years while I played a support role. After attending this rally, I watched The Cove and my journey to witness the atrocities firsthand was underway.

It’s ironic; I think I’m a fairly conventional, logical person. When I go on vacation, I like to have it all laid out, hotels, transportation, meal stops. This is completely not like me. My son said, "this is the craziest thing you’ve ever done." I found dates that United would let me use my miles and booked my flights. I don’t know where I’m staying or how I’m getting to Taiji or any Japanese. All I know is that I have to go.

Scott West from Sea Shepherd has been very helpful filling in some details for me. Louie Psihoyos, the director of The Cove, was kind enough to give me some pointers. Everywhere I turn there’s support and little signs that encourage me. I’m most impressed with Scott’s daughter’s blog. She’s seeing a lot of awful stuff and reporting on it clearly every day.

I hope my presence at the cove will make a difference and help put an end to this senseless slaughter.