Dolphin advocate Ric O'Barry launches a new tool in his fight to stop the dolphin hunts in Taiji, Japan. With the help of modern technology, events in the cove are being beamed live around the world.
O'Barry for the past several days has been taking dolphin activists on a daily tour of Taiji, Japan. Armed with nothing more than an iPad, the head of both Save Japan Dolphins and the Dolphin Project, has been bringing events live from Taiji right into activists' homes.
The small Japanese town, featured in the Academy-award winning documentary The Cove (2009), has been facing worldwide scrutiny for some time over its dolphin hunts. For six months of the year, drive boats leave Taiji harbor on a daily basis to hunt for dolphins. A few are sold into captivity, the remainder are slaughtered for meat.
The entire affair is documented by cove monitors and guardians from both Save Japan Dolphins and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Posting via social media for activists who cannot be in Taiji, they learn when the boats depart, and when a pod has been located or "driven" in. Estimates of pod sizes and species remain general observations until video footage has been evaluated, and numbers confirmed.
The experience of Taiji is unique say many activists who have been there, unappreciated until heard or seen in person. From the constant banging of metal poles which confuse and drive the dolphins towards the cove, to the sight of panicked cetaceans swimming for their lives – the sights and sounds of Taiji remain permanently etched in the mind forever.
For the first time, dolphin activists on a global scale are closer to events in the cove than they have ever been before. Since January 07, O'Barry has been reporting live from Taiji with his iPad camera. The footage at times is shaky and intermittent yet hauntingly compelling as faceless places, once just names, now reveal their wares. Taiji is breathtaking in its beauty, starkly defining the contrast between human and nature.
The Taiji Whale Museum with its mixture of life and death offers a macabre view of pickled marine embryos and fetuses in one spot, followed by two live dolphins kept in a tiny tank that barely move except to take a breath. Murals on walls celebrate the tradition of whaling, each part of the whale processed to fill human need. Outdoors, uncovered pools provide no shelter from the sun, as mixed species of dolphin share the same space, eyes closed in protection against the highly-chlorinated water.
We asked Sandy McElhaney, an administrator for the social media campaign, Save Misty the Dolphin, what she thought about the live reporting from the cove via Ustream.
"We can see the boats leaving the harbor. We hear the ghastly ping of the banger poles. We see the miserable conditions of the captives at the Taiji Whaling Museum," says McElhaney, who admits that while "it is beyond heartbreaking, we need to see it and we need to share it with people around the world – most especially the good people of Japan, many of whom do not even know about the horrors of the cove."
As O'Barry reports live, he also takes the time to answer questions in real time about the hunts, and how they echo around the world. For those tuning in it offers yet another level of interaction rarely experienced.
McElhaney, like many others, is excited about the potential of the live screenings, describing them as, "a whole new level of strategic advocacy and information sharing unlike anything we have seen since The Cove movie." By "adding this new tool to the existing cadre of resources used by the organizations on the ground, " she says, "it literally brings people around the world to Taiji."
McElhaney does admit that there is a tough side watching the events live. "It is hard to watch the pain in Ric O'Barry's eyes as he stands there in the cove watching the slaughter of the dolphins that he loves and that he works so hard to save. But as long as Ric is there, you can better believe that we will be supporting his efforts – until the waters of the Cove are blue forever."
O'Barry said he preferred not to comment on how long he would be broadcasting live from Taiji, but his live reports and those recorded to date are available on the Dolphin Project Channel at Ustream.tv.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com