Just got this in from Ric O’Barry (courtesy of Ken Levasseur–thanks, Ken) from Taiji, site of the annual dolphin slaughter that is depicted so powerfully in the documentary The Cove, which is out in theaters now generating tremendous buzz and a likely Academy Award nominee if not winner. Check out The Cove Website if you are not familiar with this great film. Here’s the poster by the way.
Here’s Ric’s update — very exciting and encouraging:
URGENT UPDATE FROM TAIJI
September 1, 2009: A Good Day for Dolphins
By Richard O’Barry, Director
Save Japan Dolphins Coalition
Today is September 1st, the first day of the dolphin slaughter season in Japan. But when I arrived today by bus from Kansai Airport with media representatives from all over the world, the notorious Cove from the movie was empty. There were no dolphin killers in sight
So today is a very good day for dolphins!
I vowed to be back in Taiji when the dolphin killing began. I’ve often been here alone, or accompanied by a few environmentalists. Sometimes, I was able to talk a major media organization into sending someone.
But the people of Japan never learned about the dolphin slaughter, because none of the media in Japan (with the exception of the excellent Japan Times) have ever sent reporters to the killing Cove. Until today!
When I got off the bus at the Cove this afternoon, I was accompanied by my son Lincoln O’Barry’s film crew, a crew from Associated Press, Der Spiegel (the largest magazine in Germany), and the London Independent.
No dolphins and no dolphin killers. We would not have had a story at all, except for the police who were there, waiting all day for us to appear. Nine policemen came to talk to us.
Now, I have said this repeatedly: Unlike the Cove fishermen, the police from this Prefecture have always acted professionally, courteously, and fairly. I have never been mistreated or threatened by the police here. I think they are a microcosm of the people of Japan – the very people I am trying to reach about the dolphins!
And as I was talking with the police, as the international journalists stood around listening, suddenly a camera crew arrived from Japan! And then another! And then still another!
You have to understand that this is SO IMPORTANT. These TV stations have REFUSED to cover the story in Taiji for years and years. NOW, for the first time, they have shown up, with cameras rolling. The head policeman talking with me even said, for the cameras, that the police are not there to support the dolphin killing fishermen. We shook hands, and they left.
As I said, it is a good day for the dolphins. And for me personally, as the police only wanted to talk with me, not arrest me!
“The Cove” movie led to the strong action by the city of Broome, Australia, in suspending the sister-city relationship with Taiji. So now, the Japanese media are sitting up and listening, for the first time.
And I’m telling them: “This tour is to show journalists the GOOD things about Taiji.” You see, with “The Cove” movie out now, we don’t have to show the BAD things about Taiji. Soon, the whole world will know about the Taiji dolphin slaughter. And all Japanese will soon know about the cover-up that has occurred by the government in refusing to stop mercury-contaminated dolphin meat from being sold to unsuspecting Japanese consumers and children.
But Taiji can change this image of shame, if they want to. I will be telling them that the town of Nantucket used to be the capitol of the whale killing industry in the US. Now, it uses its history of whaling combined with whale-watching to market tourism very successfully. Whales and dolphins are worth more alive than dead. Taiji can do this, too. But the killing has to stop.
Yes, today was a good day for dolphins. Tomorrow, I will take journalists with me around town to show them Taiji. Tomorrow, too, I predict will be a good day for dolphins. Every day that we are here and the fishermen KNOW we are here, will likely mean no boats going out to round up dolphins for the killing Cove.
And because of “The Cove” movie, the dolphin killers must now fear hidden cameras and microphones, even when they THINK we are not here.
And soon the world spotlight from “The Cove” will shine a very bright light on Taiji.