Saturday, November 12, 2011

Feelings

It always sneaks up on me when I leave Taiji. It always happens like this. Alone with my own thoughts. I let my guard down for a split second and the emotions rush in. I've often wondered if there is something wrong with me, some defect in my emotions. I go through the motions in taiji always thinking, never feeling. I become numb. A slaughter, a dolphin free day, captivity. Taking photos, video, surrounded by passionate activists comforting one another and trying to find some comic relief in it all.

I've let my wall slip a few times. Telling the molesters and dolphin trainers exactly what I think of their
heartless actions. In these moments I sometimes feel as if I will explode with anger. Writing it all down helps.

It's not until i'm safely away from that hell hole that I start to remember. Beautiful creatures murdered for greed. Lives taken away in an instant by soulless killers. Lives taken away in a different manner by misguided trainers who think they love dolphins. Make no mistake, they now know that the blood is equally on their hands. There's no hiding from the truth. I start to imaghine what happens under those tarps. The fear, the pain, felt by families that are ripped apart. The blood. Their lives are no less important than our own. 20-25 intelligent and caring creatures were murdered in Taiji during my stay, an exact number we'll never know because it happens so quickly.

It's all I can to do hold myself together as I sit in the airport consumed with sadness and needing a release.

When will this all end?

For the Oceans,
Tarah

Monday, November 7, 2011

Assault by Dolphin Molesters

On November 6th we witnessed another slaughter. Although there were marine warnings for fog and gale force winds the molesters disregarded them and set out to sea. It did not take long for the killers to spot dolphins and start driving. The dolphins fought for an hour or more, almost escaping more than once. We documented as they drove at least 8 Risso dolphins into the cove and slaughtered them. We watched as two dolphins were caught in the nets and were dragged by their tails towards their dying family members under the tarps.

We then headed to the butcher house where the molesters have covered every spare inch with tarps and screens, shamefully covering what they like to refer to as their proud culture. They severed the dolphin's heads, sliced up their bodies and transferred their remains to buyers who keep their faces hidden. Some culture.

As Rosie and I were on the pier taking photographs of the butcher house a banger boat came towards us. The fisherman, affectionately known as "Turtle Man" due to an incident last year where he shoved a Cove Guardian but fell over himself, laying on the ground flailing his limbs; started screaming at us in Japanese. After tying his boat he immediately came our way, still screaming and shoved us. He hit us each a number of times and used his body to attempt to remove us from their pier. He also broke my camera in the process. 11 police officers including safety police, Wakayama Prefecture police, and riot police joined in the fray. It was interesting to note that Rosie and I were taken away by the police, but Masayuki (the fisherman) received no attention. We spent the next 6 hours in the police station giving our testimonies, while Masayuki provided his in a contained room. The incident was caught on film.

                                         After shoving us - Masayuki attempts to intimidate Rosie


Rosie and I have spent much time at the police station in the past two days. We have had to provide testimonies, an incident report, and interestingly enough had to reenact the entire event. It was rather humorous to realize that they had literally set out the entire scene. All that was missing was the banger boat. A blue tarp marked "Sea" cleared up any doubts we may have had about the location of the ocean.

Since November 6th the dolphin molesters have gone out to sea twice to hunt for dolphins. Each day they returned empty handed as the will of nature intervened. They spent hours chasing white caps, wasting their time, energy and money.


For the Oceans,
Tarah

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Where are you?

Thankfully the past two days have been free of the slaughter of dolphins. Both this morning and yesterday the weather was in favour of dolphin hunting. Clear skies and very little wind. Both days the dolphin molesters left the harbour in search of dolphins and after a few hours returned empty handed. It is a joyous experience to watch these murderers waste their money while the dolphins swim free.

The main difference that I have noticed between last year`s Cove Guardian campaign and our current year is the number of activists. It`s disheartening to see so few activists here in Taiji when the dolphins need our help now more than ever. We started the campaign in 2010 strong and consistently had a decent number of activists who had traveled from around the world to document the dolphin slaughter.

Thousands of individuals from around the globe apply to become part of Sea Shepherd's annual anti-whaling campaign in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. They're willing to spend their money and risk their lives for the whales. I can't help but wonder where you all are. Oh yes. There is no glory in Taiji. You won't find your 5 minutes of fame on Whale Wars here. It is indeed a tough campaign here in Taiji aptly named "Infinite Patience". The mornings are early, the days are long, and the results are not immediate. We have witnessed, though, the impact that a few activists have had on this small town. An enormous amount of money has been allocated for security, police, and intricate barricades to block our cameras. Simply by being here we are costing their murderous industry over 30million yen, a number that will not be justifiable in the long term. I can only imagine the profound impact 50 activists, or even 100 would have here. There is power in numbers and we need your help!

So where are you? I've heard many excuses to stay home, safely disconnected when the computer is shut down. Finances. Family. Fear. Any of these can be overcome. I can't claim that this work is easy but it is immensely rewarding. It is enough to know that we are doing the best we can.

For the Oceans,
Tarah

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Greetings from Taiji,

It`s so easy to remain disconnected from the dolphin slaughter while at home, safe from confrontation, able to choose whether or not to view animal suffering. It`s not so easy here in Taiji, Japan.

It all came rushing back this morning. The pain, the horror, the sadness, the feeling of helplessness that comes with knowing that these dolphins will take their last breath while fighting for their lives, an unfair fight doomed from the very beginning. They die for culture and pride, barbarity and sick pleasure. It is justified by culture. A culture shamefully draped in tarps to hide the disgusting deeds beneath.

This morning was no exception. Another day. Another dollar. Another pod of slaughtered dolphins. The molesters set out early and did not take long to locate two pods of Risso dolphins numbering 13-15 in total. The banger boats drove in formation forcing the dolphins towards the cove. What came next was the fastest slaughter that I`ve witnessed to date. The dolphin molesters work with the speed and efficiency of trained killers. They`ve configured entirely new tarp contraptions so that no footage can be taken of the dolphin struggle while being stabbed.  They go to great efforts in an attempt to block our cameras. It`s no matter. One minute the dolphins are alive swimming freely in the ocean, the next minute they`re hacked to pieces, their heads thrown together in a metal bin, guts spilled on the butcher house floor. Feel free to fill in the blanks.

I`ll share with you some photos from today. Don`t expect to see any blood or gore. Our opportunities for gruesome footage have come and gone. They expect that everyone will forget the cruelty involved without the powerful bloody images. We ask that you never forget the dolphins. We are their only hope.

Procession of Banger Boats

13-15 Risso Dolphins Captured in the Cove

Transporting dead dolphins- standing on their backs to prevent their dead bodies from floating

Ridiculous new tarp set-up at butcher house



For The Oceans,
Tarah

Arrival

Hey Everyone,

After spending the last couple of days traveling, I have finally arrived in Kii-Katsuura. After the long flight I stayed the night in Wakayama City and took the train to Kii- Katsuura this morning, arriving to find that it is a dolphin free day! Although the day was beautiful with the sun shining, the wind proved too strong for dolphin molesting.

Contemplating on the train through the rolling hillside dotted with mandarins, it almost feels as if I've come home. In all honesty Japan is starting to grow on me. As the third time in the country I can't help but notice the beautiful landscape, the very generous and helpful people, and their unique culture. It's for this very culture though, that cetaceans are captured for a lifetime of slavery or brutally slaughtered. Japan is a land of stark contrast riddled with contradiction.

I met up with Rosie and other volunteers from various organizations here to document or protest the dolphin slaughter. We took a drive into Taiji so that I could view the changes that have taken place since my last visit. The dolphin killers have gone to even greater lengths to hide their dirty deeds.

Today was a day free of slaughter but tomorrow morning the agonizing wait begins again if the dolphin molesters head out to sea in search of dolphins. We can only hope that mother nature intervenes.

For The Ocean,
Tarah

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Upcoming Journey

Hey Everyone,

It's been a little while since I last posted here. I've been very busy fundraising since starting almost three months ago. It's been a phenomenal journey thus far, putting an end to the idea that one can't give their full attention to activism. It merely takes dedication to one's cause, treating it as a full time occupation and making no qualms about affording basic expenses such as food and shelter during the fundraising period.

It has been essential to adapt to the many situations that have come up. Complications with weather and location have arisen but instead of hindering my fundraising efforts I've taken these situations as new opportunities. I've spent each day over the last few months doing bottle drives, selling watermelon, energy balls, and baked goods, tabling at sustainable events throughout my community, and selling paintings that I've completed. It's been a very valuable learning experience. I was always told by fellow activists that one could never dedicate all of their time to their cause. There were always obstacles in their way. It's been freeing to overcome these obstacles. I've been able to raise enough funds to travel to Taiji, some days more successful than others. Bottle driving, an idea passed to me by fellow Cove Guardians Marley and Carisa, also proved to be an excellent opportunity to educate others about the dolphin slaughter in Taiji. Derek Howlett, a friend of mine very generously built a prototype bamboo trailer for bottle driving purposes. Not only did this provide a more sustainable option, but brought quite a bit of attention to my fundraising efforts. You can view Derek's innovative ideas at www.derekhowlett.com.

               


In just under 3 months I collected over 21,000 bottles and cans. I afforded my food and shelter expenses, helped out other Cove Guardians, and have raised funds towards upcoming campaigns occurring after Taiji.
I am currently visiting with family before extended volunteer travels. I will be leaving for Taiji as a Cove Guardian at the end of October and heading to Australia afterwards to help the Sea Shepherd ships prepare for their departure to Antarctica.

Here are a couple photos of paintings that I have sold over these past months. I am hoping to complete other paintings while in Australia to fund further causes.



I want to thank the many individuals and businesses who have assisted me through donating their bottles, purchasing paintings, energy balls, and watermelon for my efforts for the dolphins. Zen Zero, Courtenay Pet Center, Crown Isle, Cona Hostel, Two Eagles Lodge, Freakin' Coffee Shop, Roots Salon, Cascadian Crusaders, The Peaceful Direct Action Coalition and the many organizations involved - Thank you!

I will keep you all updated as soon as I leave for Taiji. I will be joining Rosie and blogging regularly about the dolphin slaughter. It's important that we forget not the horrors that occur in Taiji, Japan. It is easy to allow each day to blend into the next, forgetting about the individual lives lost, the families torn apart. We must renew the passion and fire each time dolphins are driven into the cove, chosen for captivity, and slaughtered.

For the Oceans,
Tarah

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fundraising Update

Hey all,

Rosie has just arrived in Taiji, Japan to kick off Operation Infinite Patience. When I had originally heard that Rosie was going to become the campaign leader, I thought it was a very good choice. We met last November in Taiji and after proving herself dedicated and capable, she received a surprise call from Paul Watson, inviting her to join in the Antarctic campaign. I have no doubt that Rosie will prove to be very successful this year in Taiji.

I am planning my trip to Taiji for early November. Recently Typhoon Tales swept through the area and caused some damage. Many people were killed with more missing and part of the train route to Taiji was destroyed by the storm. It is my hope that the missing citizens of Wakayama are found and well.

On to fundraising. In my previous post I told you how I was planning to fundraise full time for my upcoming endeavours. It has now been a little over a month and I have been doing bottle drives consistently, selling watermelon in the downtown core of my city "by donation" and this past weekend I held a Bake Sale for the Dolphins very similar to last year's. All of this has yielded much success! I was a little unsure at the beginning of all of this, hoping that my determination would steer me in the right direction, and has it ever! I have more work than I could have imagined. I spend my days educating the public about environmental and animal issues while dictating my own time, and raising money to follow my passions. My community has been extremely receptive and I owe my success in a large part to their contributions. I really cannot see myself ever working what one would call a "normal" job, as now I've had a taste of what passion and determination can bring forth.

Here are a few pictures of my recent fundraising initiatives.



I want to thank everyone who took part in the bake sale this past weekend. Your baked goods were enjoyed by all and raised money to help me continue spreading the word and prepare for Taiji and Antarctica.

Many of my friends and family originally scoffed at the idea of fundraising full time, believing that it could not bring in sufficient funds to afford food and shelter, along with all of the other expenses that come with volunteering for campaigns. Now, in a little over a month's time I have come to realize that anyone can succeed if they clearly determine their goals and persist until their dreams are reality.

For the Oceans,
Tarah

Friday, August 19, 2011

Article in Comox Valley Record

Hello everyone,

I am often astounded by the generosity that comes out of the community in which Ryan and I live. We moved across Canada to reside in the Comox Valley because we desired a change of scene. The two of us wanted to live in an area where people valued the environment over corporate interest. Upon arrival in the Valley we knew we had in a sense; come home. Not only is this pristine valley surrounded by majestic mountains and the beautiful ocean, there also exists here a level of consciousness that I have not witnessed elsewhere.

Not only this, but many have supported our fundraising efforts here in the Comox Valley. Many people, businesses and organizations have assisted Ryan and I in times of need, and for that we are very grateful. We would like to thank Zen Zero, Pat Newson, Lindsay Chung, all of our wonderful friends, and the many anonymous and public supporters of our endeavours. Each and every one of you are essential in making the work we do possible.

Today Lindsay Chung released a story about our current fundraising. I have been collecting empty bottles, cans and cartons for one week at this time and I have encountered many generous individuals willing to donate their recyclables to our cause. I have also been selling watermelon slices by donation in down town Courtenay to raise funds. Both of these methods have been very successful. The start of my career as a full time activist seems not only possible, but now probable. A ray of hope has been shining down. I can't possibly explain the relief I feel knowing now that I can dedicate my life to my passions.

Here is the wonderful story written by Lindsay:

Activist funding her participation in causes — one can or bottle at a time

A7bottledrive3x3.jpg
By Lindsay Chung - Comox Valley Record
Published: August 18, 2011 5:00 PM




Are you hosting an event or a family gathering?
If so, Courtenay activist Tarah Millen would be more than happy to come pick up your returnable cans and bottles.
Millen, who has been to Taiji, Japan, twice to document the dolphin drive hunt with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, is hosting a Bottlenose Dolphin Drive to raise money to take part in two Sea Shepherd campaigns.
Last fall, Millen and her partner, Ryan Hughes, travelled to Taiji as Cove Guardians to document and raise awareness of the slaughter of thousands of dolphins. They spent a combined three weeks in Taiji documenting the slaughter and placing pressure on the Japanese government to stop issuing hunting permits. They were also able to raise awareness of the destruction caused by the captive dolphin trade.
In March, Millen returned to Japan to document the slaughter of Dalls porpoises.
Millen started her bottle drive about a week ago, and she's been going door to door to people's homes on the weekends and going to different businesses and establishments in the city.
"It's going good so far," she said. "Everyone's been very receptive and very kind."
Millen got the idea for the Bottlenose Dolphin Drive from a friend who is also a Cove Guardian and was with Millen in Taiji in March when they survived a tsunami.
Not too long ago, Millen decided she was going to be a full-time activist, and she's been out there fundraising every day.
Millen is dedicating all of her time to issues surrounding conservation, animal rights, environmental degradation and other issues that she feels passionately about.
Millen and Hughes are going to go to Taiji again, probably in November, as Cove Guardians. They plan to stay there for a month and then go straight to Australia and board a ship with Sea Shepherd to participate in the society's Antarctic anti-whaling campaign to shut down the illegal whalers in Antarctica.
"We have some big plans ahead of us and a lot of work to do before going," said Millen. "We want to go so bad, and we want to dedicate our time to it because people need to be doing it. We just found we can't sit at home anymore. We need to be involved."
Millen is doing her bottle drive in the most sustainable way she can, and she is cycling everywhere with a trailer and a milk crate attached to her bike.
Millen is collecting returnable cans and bottles from anyone who is willing to give them to her, and she is happy to pick them up, clean them and sort them for individuals, businesses, organizations.
"I want to make it as easy as possible for people and have them feel good about providing their bottles," she said.
Millen has also set up an account at the Courtenay Return-It bottle depot on Puntledge Road. Anyone who would like to donate their recycling money to Millen's campaign can say they want the money to go to Account 119, Cove Guardian.
Millen is interested in getting local schools involved in the Bottlenose Dolphin Drive, and she is eager to make presentations to students about her conservation efforts and about following your dreams and doing what you believe in, even if it might be a bit outside the norm.
"I know it's that kind of presentation that brought me to this, and I'm so grateful," she said. "I don't know if I'd be where I am today if it wasn't for that presentation."
Anyone who would like to help Millen can contact her at tarah.millen@hotmail.com, through her blog at www.dolphinguardian.blogspot.com or through the website www.what2cando.com, which she and Hughes have created to highlight their dreams and their work and to show what two people can do.
"Everyone thinks 'I'm just one person,' " said Millen. "All it takes is one person to start gaining momentum and putting their passion toward a cause. We're just trying to show people one person can make a difference, and if it's two people, it's doubly inspiring. There are a lot of people who look at situations in the world and feel completely helpless."
People can also donate directly through Millen's blog or through www.what2cando.com.
Millen is selling watermelon in downtown Courtenay around lunch time most days and can be recognized with her bright blue bike trailer and green milk crate, and she is planning a bake sale in the future.
Millen is also wondering if someone who has experience co-ordinating fundraisers might have any suggestions.
Millen is extremely grateful to Zen Zero for supporting her and Hughes in everything they have done so far.
"They have helped us out exponentially," she said. "Without them, we wouldn't have done half the things we've done. They're wonderful people, and we're very thankful to them."

http://www.bclocalnews.com/vancouver_island_north/comoxvalleyrecord/news/128043353.html

Thank you again to all of our supporters!

For the Oceans,
Tarah

Monday, August 8, 2011

One Bottle at a Time

Hey Everyone,

It's been a little while since I've posted here, as there have not been any updates. In light of the dolphin killing season resuming in Japan and some much needed action on my part, I have new and exciting news to post here.

I have decided to work as a full time activist, dedicating all of my time to issues surrounding conservation, animal rights, environmental degradation, and other issues that I feel passionately about. You may be wondering "how can one work as an activist full time?" There isn't any particular occupation for activists. Many environmental and animal rights crusaders struggle to get by with odd jobs.

I've created a video that outlines what I am currently doing in terms of raising funds and my hope for my continued work in the future.

I've realized that I need to put my passion and desires into action. Through collecting bottles with my bicycle trailer and recycling them for money I will be able to fund the majority of my endeavors, and all it takes is some inspired action. I spent this past weekend visiting my community door to door and received an enormous amount of support, collecting over 2000 cans and bottles in only 4 hours. I will continue to do the same so that I am able to return to Taiji and head to Antarctica this upcoming winter. 

There are many actions that anyone can partake in with a little brainstorming. The idea for bottle drives came from fellow Cove Guardians who had experienced success with this type of fundraising. I've come to the conclusion through much trial and error that this is the work I'm meant to do, living each day with inspired action while spreading the message. I will be contacting events, schools, restaurants, and many other establishments to collect their bottles, and have also opened up an account at the Courtenay bottle return centre so that anyone who would like to can donate their bottles to account 119, Cove Guardian. 

Here are some photos of some small loads from my first bottle drives. 


Anyone can choose to pursue activism as a full time passion. There is no need for wasting your passion and energy working a job that you do not enjoy. Start to think of ways in which you can use your skills to fuel your dreams. The possibilities are endless.

For the Oceans,
Tarah

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Drive Through Otsuchi - After Earthquake Video

Hey all,

Here is the next video of our experience in Otsuchi, Japan after the earthquake on March 11, 2011 driving to higher ground from the center harbour. The first vehicle held myself, Scott, and Brian from Save Japan Dolphins. The second vehicle held Marley, Mike, and Carisa; friends of mine from Vancouver Island. We were conversing over walkie-talkies.

You may notice some joking on my part in this video. Not only did I not fully comprehend the severity of the situation, I really had no prior knowledge of what a Tsunami entailed. I remember viewing a video quite some time ago during the time of the Tsunami in Indonesia, but the only part I had retained was the water first receding and then quickly rising. Having experienced another earthquake only two days prior I did not believe that the Tsunami would be as devastating as it was.

Anyways, here is the video.
You can also view it by visiting my Youtube channel.

Also, many of you may have noticed the change in the name and URL of my blog. The Cove Guardians have had to change our blog and URL names due to complications with Sea Shepherd tax rights. My blog now goes by the name of  "Memoirs of an Ocean Guardian" and has the URL www.dolphinguardian.blogspot.com.

For the Oceans,
Tarah

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Earthquake Video

I'd like to share with everyone the first video that I shot in Japan during the earthquake on March 11, 2011. I have a number of videos that I took during the Tsunami and I will be showing the ones that I deem appropriate.

Here is the first.
video


For the Oceans,
Tarah

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tsunami Photos

Hey all,

I've been absent for some time as my partner and I have been traveling to visit family and the like. We had taken a bit of time off to spend time with friends and family back in Ontario and Tofino, Vancouver Island's West Coast.

The last post I wrote here mentioned the Sea Shepherd event in Seattle. Many of you know by now that the event was a huge success. A group of us traveling from Canada experienced quite a bit of trouble at the border due to the fact that I had "Earthforce" in my possession. After a grueling 12 hour day at the border, running back and forth to retrieve documents showing our loyalty to Canada, we were allowed in the United States. We met up with other Cove Guardians including Bob Timmons, Rob Lorkiewicz, Libby Miller, Elora & Scott, Tim Quick, Dave Blanchard and his family and many others. It was great to spend time with other guardians, those who we had already been through so much with. We spent the weekend in Seattle before heading to Ontario.

Now, onto more recent events. I have decided to show my photos from our Tsunami experience in Otsuchi, Japan. It's quite surreal looking back on such a life changing event. It's easy to temporarily forget the experience with Scott, Marley, Mike, Carisa, and Brian, but viewing the photos brings it all home. Life returns to normal even after the most tragic events but I doubt this event will ever fade into the background for any of us. I had taken many photos and videos during the Tsunami, as we were there for the purpose of documentation. The majority of the photos that I have here today are taken on a second-rate digital camera. I have many others that I took with my 1989 SLR Minolta, but I cannot locate the disk to upload them. The photos are in order from the beginning of the water receding until we walked out of Otsuchi the next day. Also, please remember that these photos belong to me and are not for publication.



It's important not to forget that this disaster has not ended for Japan. The North American News stations seemed to have rendered the story unimportant for the time being, but Japan is still dealing with a nuclear crisis. Not only this, but the entire coast is faced with attempting to rebuild a fraction of the life they once lived. Having seen first hand the devastation that the Tsunami caused in Otsuchi, I believe the damage is almost irreparable. I cannot imagine the hardship that the Japanese people are forced to face in the wake of the Tsunami. Please, if you have the resources donate to Japan relief efforts. The aftermath of the Tsunami is not over simply because the News does not see fit to air it.

I will have video excerpts uploaded from our experience in Otsuchi in the coming days.
Until then

For the Oceans,
Tarah

Saturday, April 16, 2011

New Opportunities

First off, I'd like to start this blog post with news of a Sea Shepherd event coming to Seattle on April 30th from 7-11pm. The event is a fundraiser for the purpose of introducing the new Sea Shepherd Seattle chapter. Ryan and I will be traveling to Seattle on Friday, April 29th to gear up for the event.

Many Cove Guardians will be present including myself, Ryan, Scott West, Elora Malama, Libby Miller, Rob Lorkiewicz, David Blanchard & family, Bob Timmons and more. This will be the first reunion for many of us, to visit with those who became Cove Guardians on the past campaign in Taiji. We're very much looking forward to meeting everyone and bonding again with fellow activists who also witnessed the atrocities in Taiji, Japan.

There will be many items to auction, both silent and live. The event will also feature a slide show, dessert bar, raffle, and a photo booth. If you live in the Seattle area please come out to support SSCS at this fantastic evening event! You can purchase tickets here.

On another note, Ryan and I were recently asked if we would like to participate in the upcoming campaign in Palau. We, of course are very interested in the campaign and will have details available soon. Palau boasts a shark sanctuary, the only one we currently have on this planet. Sea Shepherd recently signed an agreement that allows the conservation society to enforce shark protection laws in the sanctuary. For more information visit http://www.seashepherd.org/news-and-media/news-110331-1.html

Japan has recently issued a statement that you can find here claiming that Palau should reconsider this decision. Japan has also stated that they will send a vessel (at their own cost) to Palau to assist with the shark sanctuary. But wait a minute....Isn't Japan facing a nuclear crisis? Should the country not be more concerned with the danger faced by its citizens in wake of the devastating tsunami and Nuclear disaster? One would think that Japan has larger issues to tackle, instead of competing with Sea Shepherd over protecting sharks. Considering Japan once contributed to the decimation of over 10 million sharks per year for the shark finning industry in Kesen'numa, a city that was destroyed by the tsunami, it would not seem that protecting these creatures is high on their list of priorities. It seems to me that Japan may be attempting to turn this into a pissing contest, one to declare who is better suited to save sharks. This shouldn't be a difficult decision. Sea Shepherd has more than proven its ability to protect ocean wildlife wordwide. It is time for the Japanese Government to understand where their responsibility lies. Where, you ask? Their responsibility lies in protecting their people who are facing homelessness, lack of food, fresh water, and the possibility of widespread nuclear disaster.

Stay tuned for more news soon!

For the Oceans,
Tarah








Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Life Lessons

I have learned quite a few life lessons due to our experience surviving the Tsunami in Japan.

I've come to realize how precious life is. We often take each day for granted, spending our time working monotonous jobs for the purpose of making money to spend on items we neither need nor want. Some of this is done to gain status in society. Sometimes we fill our lives with experiences that do not further our happiness simply to fill a void, one we often do not realize is present.

Prior to this past trip to Japan I had decided that my life was going to be filled with fulfilling experiences. I would wake each morning happy to be alive, grateful for what the new day would bring. I decided not to waste my time trying to fit into society's norms or work a job that does nothing to help this world. Of course we're taught to believe that traditional work is necessary. We must compromise our ethics and happiness to purchase a house, vehicles, food, material items, and to have pleasant experiences. I don't believe that this is either true or necessary. I've declared that I will spend my life volunteering for what is right, and the rest will work itself out. There is no reason that we should not follow our dreams.

There's a quote i'm fond of and have found in my experience to be true.
"Follow your bliss and the Universe will open doors where there were only walls."

This past weekend my partner, parents, and I traveled to Seattle to visit Scott and his family. It was a fantastic weekend. Prior to leaving Seattle we participated in a rally for Lolita to raise awareness for her 40 years of captivity. For the most part we received positive feedback.

 Also prior to leaving Scott happened to mention the new SSCS campaign in Palau. He asked Ryan and I if we were interested. I had been feeling a bit unrested, eager to get on the move again. This is just what I was on the lookout for. We told Scott that we were certainly interested. It is my hope that we can become a part of the crew to participate in the Shark finning campaign in Palau. If you have not read about the campaign you can do so here. As I was mulling over the idea of heading to Palau for the next few months I thought about something that Scott had said to me on our way back to North America from Japan. I had been watching "The Secret" on the plane ride home. Underneath each speaker was a word that described the individual such as "philosopher", "metaphysician" or "Author". Scott had asked if I had one word to describe myself. One word to sum up my existence here, to outline my hopes, dreams, and ambitions. I have not yet come up with that one word. I have a feeling that I will find it sometime soon.

I've had an internal battle as to whether to post another blog here or not. On the www.30bananasaday.com forum I have been posting about "The Secret" and the Law Of Attraction for the last while. I understand that not everyone agrees with or is interested in this concept. I prefer to keep this blog about my Ocean activism experiences, but for those of you who are interested in thespecifics of making your dreams come true please feel free to visit my blog roll on 30BaD.

Now is the time to live life the way you have been dreaming of. The largest mistake people make is to focus on how they are supposed to act. Dwelling on the logistics have never gotten me anywhere. You must simply focus on what you wish to experience and achieve. You may just find that the "how" works itself out while you're busy dreaming about your desires.


For The Oceans,
Tarah

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Media

I'll share with everyone the few stories that I have done since I arrived back to Canada. I have not spoken to news stations outside of the reporters who greeted us at the Seattle airport. Contrary to what some may believe, I do indeed care about the Japanese people and do not wish to exploit them in any way by making ourselves look like heroes. 

I have been criticized as of late (no surprise there) for my remark about the dolphin molesters. Yes, my heart does go out to the many families, children, and innocent lost in this tragedy. However, I do not take back my statement about feeling no remorse for the killers. Many lives have been lost, both human and non human. I do not differentiate between the life of a dolphin and the life of a human. Does this make me insensitive? I don't believe so. I simply care about all life equally. A human is no more important than any other animal that inhabits this planet. Billions of animals are slaughtered each year, suffering from a fate that few of us will ever experience or acknowledge. Those who feel the need to criticize have likely never allowed themselves to view the pain and suffering that this planet endures under our hands. It may be time to think about these things. We cannot allow ourselves to stay blind to the plight of both humans and non-humans on planet earth.

Now...to the stories. I have had an interview with a magazine in the UK who were looking for a perspective of a woman, which I have not had the chance to view yet. I was also interviewed by a paper in my hometown of Stoney Creek, Ontario. I did this to spread the news to friends and family who might not have been aware that I had traveled to Japan. Lastly, Lindsay Chung from "The Comox Valley Record", who had helped us numerous times with stories of our fundraising and such, wrote a story based on my blog. 

You can view the story in the Stoney Creek News and the Comox Valley Record here:


For The Oceans,
Tarah 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Travel Back to North America

Upon arriving safely in Tono we breathed a sigh of relief. Our cellular devices received reception and we were now able to make communication with our family members.We took turns using the cell phones, limiting our time. Electrical power was not available at the hotel yet and we had to conserve power in the cell phones. Our families now knew we had survived the Tsunami.

I first contacted Ryan, my partner, to let him know that I was safe in Tono. That night four of us slept in the same room, close to one another to conserve heat. The night rocked with aftershocks as high as 6.0. There was a constant rumble beneath us. The hotel walls were moving, squeaking in the corner of the room above my bed. We only hoped that the building would not collapse. By that point we had experienced over one hundred aftershocks. And although they are deemed "aftershocks", these are real earthquakes.

I realized early on in the morning, around 4am, that we had regained power. There was a halo of light around the hotel room door. Everyone awoke, eager to get online and speak to their loved ones. We we able to get cleaned up then, albeit with very cold water. We were all grateful for the return of power. It is something that is easily taken for granted in our developed world. We headed out in search of food, finding a grocery store that was preparing rations on the side walk. No one was allowed to enter. It finally hit me at that point, how dire this situation was for the Japanese people.

We spent the day after the tsunami skyping with family and friends, trying to work out a solution that would allow us to leave Japan. We were in contact with the Canadian and American Embassies, who, unfortunately were of no help to us. In the time it took them to reply (3 days after returning home), we may have been in danger of radiation poisoning in Japan. After gaining knowledge that trains were not running and there were no rental vehicles, we had to pursue other options. Mike searched the internet, finding an international airport 4 hours northwest of our location. We did not know if planes were in operation, but had to take the risk. Tono was located 60kms north of the radiation evacuation zone. At the train station in Tono we spotted a few taxis. We worked out a deal, costing us $200US each for the four hour trip. The airport was closed when we arrived, so we stayed at a nearby hotel.

In the morning, while Scott was using his phone to negotiate flights, we headed back to the airport. We had secured flights back to Seattle via South Korea for the crew. The flights seemed short, the entire experience surreal. My mind had difficulty comprehending what we had experienced over the past days.

We were greeted in Seattle by our friends and family. News reporters were also awaiting our stories. It was wonderful to be back on North American soil. I am very grateful to have such a wonderful support base for our return.

                                                            Cove Guardians Return
                                                              (Photo from Libby)

I have made the decision to participate in few interviews. I have had two to date with newspapers, one in the UK, and another from my home town in Stoney Creek, Ontario. I do not wish to speak to the media. I have witnessed exploitation from the media towards the Japanese people, and It doesn't leave me with a pleasant feeling. Of course, if any large media outlets such as Ellen were to contact us, I would likely oblige, as I agree with her ethical perspectives.

                                                Speaking to Reporters at Seattle Airport
                                                                      (Photo from Elora)

Thank you to all who supported us in our effort to leave Japan. We are very grateful for the amazing support that we received.

If you have it in your resources, please support the people in Japan who have been devastated by the tsunami. They are in dire need of your help.

For The Oceans,
Tarah

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Our Journey Through Tsunami

First off I'd like to apologize for the lack of pictures recently on my blog. The internet security here in Northern Japan will not allow me to upload any images. I will have them available as soon as I arrive back in North America or get a different internet connection.

I run the risk of being repetative with this blog post, as "The Cove Guardians" (Mike, Marley, and Carisa) and Scott West have both written about this same experience. I do have some followers, however, who do not follow either of those blogs so I shall post about our experience over the past few days.

Early afternoon on Friday we headed into Otsuchi with three new Cove Guardians, Carisa, Marley, and Mike from my home on Vancouver Island. They had arrived the night before and we were giving them a tour of the city whilst waiting for harpoon boats to return with Dalls Porpoises. Two boats had left the harbour that morning in search of porpoises to molest. One boat had returned, sans Dalls, and instead carried a load of small fish, and we continued on with our tour. During the tour of Otsuchi we stopped to wait at the inner harbour when we felt an earthquake. Based on the qauke we had experienced the day prior, we realized that this one had a much higher intensity.

Realizing the need to head to higher ground, we immediately jumped in the vehicles and raced through Otsuchi to a nearby mountain road. Workers ran from their workplace in processing plants and factories. Children were riding their bicycles quickly down the streets. Everyone in Otsuchi sensed the need for urgency, as we did. A few minutes later we arrived on higher ground and scouted the area. We were joined on the hill by a firetruck and a few other vehicles. Only minutes later we witnessed the entire city of Otsuchi covered by water. The water receeded and surged again and again into the night.

Boats immediately drove from the harbour, knowing that the only safe refuge was at sea. Many still did not make it. As the water receeded into the Ocean leaving the rock below exposed we anxiously waited, knowing that it had to come back into shore. It was not long before the water came rushing in, an enormous black crashing wave dragging along with it houses, vehicles, bodies, and debris of all kinds. We watched in horror as the entire town of Otsuchi was destroyed by the water. What was not taken by water was taken by flame. We watched and filmed as the Tsunami ripped apart Otsuchi. Oil drums had been overturned and sucked out to sea. The pollution left in the ocean was of a mass scale.

It came time for us to explore our escape options. The firemen and other local residents had headed into the hills to check on family members. We hiked down, traveling the road that had brought us up to the hill. Before long it became evident that we were not going to drive out of Otsuchi. The vehicles would remain there for the long haul. The road was destroyed and a river had taken its place. We could not believe the carnage. Nothing remained of this coastal town. We explored the other end of the mountainside and were met with the same destruction. Boats were scattered over the roadway, debris in all areas, a dead body strewn within.
                                                                The road to our hill 

The cries of a young woman floating on a rooflike structure could soon be heard. We enlisted the help of a young Japanese woman to act as a translator and try to quell her fears. We decided to utilize the Fire truck. Mike and Marley drove it over close to the area of the floating woman. It took some time, but we were able to work the radio, loudspeaker, and search lights. We radioed for help. None came. Both Iuka, our Japanese friend, and myself utilized the loudspeaker, calling to two boats in the harbour. It took two hours before they responded to our calls. By that time we had attempted to throw the young woman a rope, taking a risk by walking on the Tsunami walls. The surge of the water kept her out of reach. The boats headed into the wreckage but ceased searching after only 30 minutes or so. We were very frustrated and felt helpless. We could not hear her cries any more.

Snow had set in and it was becoming very cold. We could only hope that the boats had found the young woman as she was swept out by the powerful current. Diving into the freezing, powerful water would have only created more death. We had to settle in for the night. The 7 of us packed into our two small vehicles, keeping warm by periodically starting the engine. We awoke in the morning to thick smoke rising out of what was once the town of Otsuchi.

The firemen and local residents appeared from the hills, creating a plan of escape. We loaded into the Fire tuck and drove to the base of the hill. From there we hiked through the debris and upwards on a very steep mountain. Our resolve was strong and assisted us in climbing the mountainside. We came down the other side into an area filled with locals. Their lives had been destroyed, left with nothing, dead family members piled in beds, yet still food and fire was generously offered to the Westerners in their midst. Great kindness was shown to us. An offer was placed for us to stay, but we knew that we would simply be a burden to them. We went on our way.

We spent the next hours of the day hiking through unimaginable wreckage. Hiking over burned houses, crushed vehicles, family photographs, black, oily sludge, and personal belongings. We repeatedly saw footprints from small companion animals. Propane tanks exploded around us as helicopters rescued locals off of burning buildings. The town of Otsuchi was a desolate wasteland, an image taken from a horror movie of war. Smells of death and burning asaulted us as we tore through the town, experiencing aftershocks all the while.

After our ascent from the wreckage we arrived on a bridge. Speaking to the Police we realized that we would receive no assistance. We started walking. We were a long ways from our hotel in Tono, farther inland. We walked for miles before happening upon a very generous man. He walked us into a village and got us a lift to a bus station in the mountains. We were left there wondering what was to come next. Not long after, he arrived back with a woman and her van. She had lost everything, but offered what little she had to us. She got us safely back to Tono.

We have come farther since this, and have been told of the plight of dolphins in Taiji. Around 20 dolphins were left in the pens in the Taiji harbour during the Tsunami. The fishermen did not set them free. Instead they were left to the force of nature, thrown violently against the rocks by the surging water, screaming in pain as they lay dying.

My heart goes out to the innocent families and individuals in Japan affected by this Tsunami. But I can feel no remorse for those who kill so needlessly. The time has come for change. The damage done to this earth by humans can no longer be denied. I hope that through this time of sorrow we can rise above and right the wrongs of the past. It is time for us to respect our mother earth, hopefully allowing us to avoid destruction of this magnitude in the future.

For The Oceans,
Tarah

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tsunami

Hello everyone,

As many of you know, a devastating tsunami hit japan the day before last. We were in Otsuchi, waiting for boats to come into port with porpoises. We felt the earthquake and headed for higher ground immediately.
It is a very long story and one that should not be told until we have rested and are back safely in North America.
I'd like everyone to know that we are safe after trekking through through unimaginable devastation.

We are currently in Tono, Iwate Prefecture awaiting help from outside sources.

All of the Cove Guardians are in need of monetary support to leave Japan. A large portion of funds went towards renting vehicles that we had to abandon on a mountainside. Please, if you can offer any support, we are in need of it now!

I will have updates as soon as possible.

For The Oceans,
Tarah

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Iwate Prefecture, Japan

I'd like to introduce everyone to the Dalls Porpoise slaughter that occurs year round in Iwate Prefecture, Japan. If you thought the molestation of cetaceans in Japan ended in Taiji, you were mistaken. The slaughter of Dalls Porpoises is the largest slaughter of cetaceans around in the world today. The Japanese Government cannot be satiated by simply molesting the dolphins that pass by Taiji, they feel the need to mercilessly rape our oceans until the bitter end in every coastal area in the nation. Japanese fishermen slaughter around 15,000 Dalls Porpoises each year and it doesn't end there. An additional 8,000-10,000 Dalls become entangled in the nets from the Japanese Salmon fishery, and die. The majority of those who suffer from the entanglement and death are pregnant females. Fortunately, Dalls Porpoises live a very short time if kept in captivity, allowing them to escape one horror that other dolphins are often subjected to. For further detailed information please visit http://www.dallsporpoise.org/ and http://www.eiainternational.org/campaigns/species/cetaceans/

I traveled up from Taiji with Scott West and Brian from SJD, spending two days on the road in our efforts to travel to Ostuchi to document the slaughter of Dalls Porpoises. We spent our time driving through the beautiful mountainous regions of Northern Japan, wishing that our purpose were mere tourism. Japan is a beautiful nation surrounded by glorious coasts perfect for whale and dolphin watching. It really is too bad that the Government brings such shame upon its country. This is a nation that could and should be a leader in conservation.
                                                     A stop in the snowy mountains
During our first day in Otsuchi we were immediately greeted by "terrorist security". We also experienced a 7.2 earthquake that had an epicentre a few hours away, where we had been driving only the day before We had not yet announced that Sea Shepherd was in the area, but we were being closely watched. We were followed on our way back to the hotel but turned the tables and lost our tail. We arrived early this morning and realized that the Dalls from the previous day had already been butchered. We announced our arrival and were again greeted by the police and fishermen. We are currently figuring out the hunt schedule and will be spending every moment documenting this horrific slaughter.

                                                                              Harpoon

                                                                  Butcher House



Otsuchi, Japan has a sister city none other than Fort Bragg California. I can`t help but wonder what Califorians will think of this sister city relationship in regards to the largest slaughter of porpoises in the world. I can`t imagine they will be too happy with the information. Maybe this connection is one that is better broken.

We will soon be joined by three fellow Vancouver Islanders and close friends of mine.

For The Oceans,
Tarah

Thursday, March 3, 2011

More to Come

After a long flight to Osaka, Japan via Seattle, Scott and I arrived in Nachi-Katsuura late last night.

It's surreal being back in Taiji. The constant stress of wondering how many dolphins will be slaughtered next has disappeared. Walking through the small coastal town, one experiences an aura of expectency. What creature is next? In only one month the Taiji molesters will set out to resume Coastal whaling targeting false killer whales, pilot whales, and risso dolphins. No cetacean can escape their molestation.

                                                             Coastal Whaling Ships


The dolphin slaughter may have ceased for this season, but the end is nowhere in sight. There are 20-30 dolphins remaining in the pens inside the Taiji harbour. The slaughter of 2010-2011 will never be forgotten. The images will play over again in their minds, families slaughtered, cries of their friends and children ruthlessly murdered before their eyes. They will be forced to endure these painful memories while they perform for passer-bys after being transported around the world. They will live out the rest of their lives in pain, dying when they can endure it no more. We focused on the cetacean slaughter here in Taiji due to horrors of this live slave trade.

We will continue to place pressure on Taiji, ensuring that the molesters are not bluffing. Change must come from within the Japanese Government. We are here to take our stand against all atrocities committed towards cetaceans in Japan.

We have a few tricks up our sleeve yet.
There is some exciting news that will be unfolding in the next two weeks.

Stay tuned.

For The Oceans,
Tarah

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hey everyone,

I will be leaving for Japan tomorrow morning via Seattle. I will be arriving in Osaka at 4:30pm on March 3rd and will be traveling to Taiji from there.

I will not be traveling alone, and although I cannot provide more information at this time, I will post updates as soon as I am in Japan. We will be spending a few days in Taiji to assess the situation and will be traveling from there.

I apologize for the vagueness of this blog post, and I will be providing you with more information as to what I will be working on while I am in Japan. I will be staying a duration of two weeks unless I am needed for a longer period of time.

I want to thank every individual who has provided support for me to travel to Japan a second time to work on progressive tactics. I have been able to raise enough money for the flight costs and some hotel. I am still in need of support, and am remaining hopeful that I will have no problem affording food, hotel and travel costs. If you would like to contribute you can do so through paypal with the "donate" button on the right hand side. Any support is welcome, though, especially the form of positive thoughts and kind remarks! I am very grateful to all of you!

For The Oceans,
Tarah

Friday, February 25, 2011

Reality

Some may believe that dreams and reality must be separate from one another. I do not believe this to be the case. I mentioned in my last blog post that I was thinking of leaving my employment and dedicating my life to activism, trying to change our world for the better.

Well this past week, my dreams became my reality. I started a challenge 12 days ago, a challenge to watch the movie "The Secret" every day for 30 days. I had previously heard testimonies from those who had taken this challenge. I was ready to write my own testimonial. I'm aware that many either do not agree with or doubt the Law Of Attraction, but what I have witnessed over these past days has been phenomenal.

I started to feel better right from the start, focusing my thoughts and feelings upon my dream to live my life the way I wanted, not a life dictated by society. Within the first week, I received numerous donations, had my bicycle stolen (taking away my transportation to my job), and received signs daily that the time to start living my dreams was now, not in the future. On the 8th day of my challenge I quit my job. Immediately I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. It was a joyous day. Now, some of you might be thinking "Are you crazy!? You quit your job? How are you going to earn a living?" I don't have an answer to these questions. I simply know that I don't want to look back in later years, wondering why I did not follow my dreams. Wondering why I wasted my life away working like everyone else, slowly letting my passion whither away. Taking the leap into the unknown can be frightening, but looking the other way as our oceans are dying is a more frightening concept in my eyes.

So, here I am. I'm traveling to Taiji this coming Wednesday. I plan on staying two weeks. I am very close to my monetary goals. I need around $500 more for everything to fall into place seamlessly. Either way I will make it work.

We must ask ourselves what is truly important in our lives. I have started to live from my heart. What else can one do? We often underestimate our potential. There are quite a few unanswered questions. How will I make money? How will I travel to where I am needed most to create change? How will I achieve balance?
I am not worried about these questions at the moment. My mind is focused on the task at hand, putting an end to the slaughter of dolphins in Japan. Nothing in my life is as important as this right now. Lives are at stake. Families are torn apart. Our oceans are dying. We must find a way to stop this.


"You can start with nothing. And out of nothing, and no way, a way will be made."
-Michael Beckwith

For Our Oceans,
Tarah

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dreams

I wrote a blog post in the beginning of my journey here titled "I Have a Dream".

This time I want to talk about all of my dreams. I feel that this is a monumental period in my life, making changes that will directly impact my future. I feel a deep passion for our oceans, you know that by now. But my passion and love for our oceans travels far beyond the desire to partake in a few campaigns. This is a cause I want to dedicate my life to. I want nothing more than to wake each morning, spending every day being a voice for those who have none. This extends from our oceans, to our forests, to animals in factory farms, fur farms...etc. I find that my tolerance for a "normal" life dictated by society is fading fast.

Since traveling to Taiji I have seriously evaluated my life. I'm 21 years old. I left my college education twice due to a lack of fulfillment. It is not an issue of irresponsibility. This is a burning desire in my heart, one that I cannot quell by trying to fit into Society's norms'. I have volunteered many times, each experience providing more fulfillment for my soul than the last. I cannot lead a normal life. It is not my purpose here. I have known for three years that this is what I am meant to do. I have the strength and desire to change this world for the better, and anything less would cause me to deteriorate, becoming a shell of my former self. I want to dedicate my time to helping heal our earth. I am not worried about feeling discomfort, fear, pain, or anxiety. It is but a small portion of what our oceans, forests, and animals are currently faced with.

I am considering leaving my employment and diving into a world of excitement, beauty, and adventure. I can only deny my heart for so long. Monotonous living does not suit me. As you also know, I am a firm believer in the law of attraction and the power of love. I have witnessed the transformation of my life within these past few months due to the power of positive thought and affirmations. I'm ready to take my life to the next level. I am ready to live in abundance, allowing me to dedicate all of my time to what really matters.

I am returning to Taiji. I do not know yet how it is going to unfold. I have received many generous donations and feel deep gratitude daily for those who care about this world as much as I. I would not be able to do this without you. The list of followers, activists, donations, commenters, and passionate, selfless individuals is too long to list here.

I'm working on manifesting ideas, situations, money, people, and everything else I require to spend my life doing what few have the desire to do, spend each and every day not living for themselves, but for those who's lives are cut short by greed.

It is my hope that you will join me in this exciting journey of growth, love, pain, passion that we call life.

For the Oceans,
Tarah

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Journey Back to Taiji

For the last few months I have remained here on Vancouver Island, but my heart has been elsewhere. Once one has traveled to Taiji it is impossible to forget the beautiful coastline, the hospitable Japanese people, the love and passion of fellow Cove Guardians, and of course the horror that occurs there, the slaughter of thousands of dolphins each year. 


Although I felt that my presence made a significant difference, showing the dolphin molesters that we will continue to expose these atrocities to the world, I feel as if I have left something unfinished. 


I stumbled across a quote the other day that caught my eye:
“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”


-Martin Luther King Jr.  


I have been feeling edgy lately, knowing that there is something missing in my life. I realize now that I must return to Taiji. I want this dolphin hunting season to end with a strong force of Cove Guardians, showing that we will remain in Japan until the killing stops. I have spoken to other Cove Guardians who have similar feelings. Many are returning. It is impossible not to feel the pull. This is a fight that once involved, you cannot walk away from. 


A few of us have been discussing new information, approaches and tactics regarding the Taiji slaughter. I hope that I can bring to the table new diversity based on my previous experiences in Taiji. If nothing else, I want to continue to show my support for our oceans cetaceans. My heart is constantly yearning to be near the dolphins. I believe that they can sense when we are nearby. 


I will likely be traveling back in the beginning of March along with Mike, Marley, and Carissa from http://www.thecoveguardians.blogspot.com/. The three are strong, dedicated activists who feel the pull along with myself to help end this slaughter in any way that we can.

So far, I have received a few very generous donations from wonderful individuals. I am so very grateful to everyone who loves the dolphins as much as I, hoping that my presence will contribute to the end of the dolphin slaughter.

Please feel free to provide whatever you can. I want to stress the importance of positive feedback, feelings of love, and any support you can provide whether it be monetary or simply kind words. Of course, financial support is needed, but I really appreciate every method.

I will keep everyone updated with my progress.

For the Oceans,
Tarah

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Article Published in Watershed Sentinel

Recently, upon request, I submitted an article to a Canadian environmental magazine by the name of Watershed Sentinel. The magazine headquarters is here in the Comox Valley. You can check out their website here: http://www.watershedsentinel.ca/content/stopping-dolphin-hunt-firsthand-cove


Stopping the Dolphin Hunt - Firsthand from the Cove


by Tarah Millen
The town of Taiji, Japan is responsible for the slaughter and trade of over 2,000 dolphins each year. A jewel along the South East coastline of Japan, Taiji could transform into a beautiful oasis were it not for the horrors that occur there. Taiji is home to 26 men who are known to some as molesters, men who act with force, harming the beautiful creatures of our oceans. Each year from September through March, the cries of pain and desperation from thousands of dolphins ring out in the quiet town. The slaughter of dolphins in Japan is no less than a tragedy, a dark spot upon the country's reputation.
Dolphin Hunt
Migrating through the waters surrounding the coastal nation, dolphins are forcefully driven with "banger boats" from their home in the open ocean to a natural formation, a cove, where they will spend the last moments of their lives. It is here in this cove that dolphins are chosen for the slave trade in aquariums or slaughtered for their meat. The process in which they are driven into the cove, slaughtered, dragged to the gutting barge; while drowning in their own blood, gutted, and butchered is completed with callous efficiency.
The death of dolphins in Taiji passes by 7 months out of every year largely unbeknownst to the Japanese public. When interviewed by the creators of the Oscar Winning documentary, The Cove, Japanese citizens were, not only unaware of the slaughter, but shocked by such a concept. The citizens of Japan do not support the dolphin hunt, yet it continues due to the profits generated from the live dolphin trade. In a contract between a Turkish aquarium and Taiji officials, 10 dolphins sold for a price of $280,000 US. A young female dolphin that has been trained can fetch up to $300,000 US when purchased by dolphinariums.
The "cultural" label placed on this practice is merely a convenient cover, hiding the fact that the slaughter did not occur before aquariums existed. Indeed, the slaughter and capture of dolphins in Japan did not occur before 1970. Before this time, the hunting of dolphins was only done on occasion, when convenience allowed.
The live trade of dolphins in Taiji is directly linked to the dolphin slaughter. The driving force behind the dolphin hunt is the profit to be made from young females. Following the driving of dolphins into the Cove area, trainers come from the "Dolphin Base" in Taiji to select young females, similar to "Flipper." The selection process can take up to four hours depending on the number of appropriate dolphins. It can be quite a cruel process, and while in Taiji we witnessed the drowning of two young dolphins as the trainers were forcing them to become submissive for training. We also caught footage of the trainers forcefully hitting and shoving dolphins. Without profit generated from the live trade, these fishermen would not continue to slaughter dolphins for their meat.

I spent three weeks in Taiji, this past November. My partner and I traveled there to act as Cove Guardians, a campaign run by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Sea Shepherd was founded by Paul Watson in 1978 soon after his departure from Greenpeace. It is a radical environmental organization dedicated to saving our oceans and the life found within them. Many Sea Shepherd campaigns require direct action intervention against illegal activity such as shark finning and the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. The Cove Guardian campaign could not include direct action intervention due to Japanese law stating that any individual directly intervening with business interests will be charged with "obstruction of business" resulting in two to three years in a Japanese prison. The purpose of the Cove Guardian campaign was to stand guard, document, film and raise awareness of the slaughter of dolphins to Japanese citizens and the world.
The time that I spent in Japan as a Cove Guardian was emotionally and physically exhausting, albeit very rewarding. Each day began with rising between 3 and 5 a.m. for travel to the Cove area in Taiji. Our group would gather at the hotel and spread out among the various vantage points near and around the cove. Each day differed depending on whether the hunter boats were out in search of dolphins. The day often ended with filming the horrors of capture, slaughter, bloodied dolphins, gutting (sometimes done while the dolphins were still alive), transfer and butchering. Although it was a very frustrating time, I left Taiji knowing that each and every presence in the small town made a larger impact than we can fathom. Detailed accounts of my days in Taiji can be found at http://www.watershedsentinel.ca/www.coveguardian.blogspot.com.
In this day and age our oceans are dying. Dolphins are but one species that represent the plight of our oceans. Human exploitation is largely evident for those willing to take a closer look. We are destroying the world's largest ecosystem, depleting the ocean at a faster rate than it can replenish. As humans we harbour intelligence and capacity for choice. For mere entertainment we sentence creatures who may just surpass our level of intelligence, to a life without joy. They experience a lifetime enclosed in a concrete tank forever disconnected from their natural habitat and family in the ocean. Their acoustic abilities crippled, they are forced to perform tricks for passers-by. We must learn to appreciate the beauty of our oceans and strive to save them.
Although the situation may seem unredeemable, there are many actions that Canadian citizens can take to help end this tragedy. The simple act of phoning, e-mailing, faxing, and writing letters to your local Japanese Embassy or Consulate creates a major impact for dolphins in Taiji. Change must come from the inside. The law allowing exploitation of cetaceans in Japan can only be altered by the Japanese Government. Donations are also imperative. By supporting Sea Shepherd in their direct action initiatives, you are ensuring that a Sea Shepherd representative can stay on the ground in Taiji to monitor the situation. Other simple acts to help save the dolphins in Japan include viewing "The Cove" and sharing it with friends and family to raise awareness. You may also support others' initiatives to become Cove Guardians, or become one yourself. Please visit http://www.seashepherd.org/ for more information.
You can visit my youtube channel to watch the last video log that I created in Taiji, Japan. I will be returning next year, and every year that follows, until we see an end to the slaughter of dolphins in Japan.
*There will be a screening of The Cove movie in Nanaimo on January 17th, 2011 at Vancouver Island University, Building 356, Room 109. The doors open at 6:30 and the movie will be shown at 7pm. Tickets are available in Nanaimo at Boston Pizza, Tourism Nanaimo, and the Thirsty Camel.  For those living outside of the city you can e-mail the organizers through thecoveguardians@gmail.com
Tarah Millen is an animal rights & environmental activist living on Vancouver Island. Her interests include travel, nature, raw foods, and ocean activism.

For The Oceans,
Tarah