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By Hans Peter Roth - WDCS rep on the ground
It's a very special feeling if you're suddenly able to leave the harbour of Katsura - nearby village of Taiji - in your 'own' boat. "Welcome!" Michael Dalton smiles friendly and mischievous and signals us to climb aboard. Together with Yoshiko Wada, a young japanese woman, who has been helping us with our efforts to stop the dolphin hunt in Japan since December 2010, we are driving with the boat towards the open sea.
A splendid vessel from the coast guard is already waiting for us. People from the 'West' driving around off Taiji in their own boat is a cause of sensation! The whole story is indeed quite juicy. The boat belongs to Ady Gil, an animal-loving millionaire from Los Angeles. He is the one who in 2009 gave $1million to Sea Shepherd so that they could buy the black powerboat which helped to give the Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean a hard time.
But the futuristic speedboat named "Ady Gil" was rammed by a Japanese whaling vessel and sank one year ago. A rather strange incident. For me - and lots of others - it seems like it was a mistake made by the pilot of the speedboat... Anyway, in the end it all went too far for Ady Gil and he now invests his money in a little project off the coast of Taiji. That's what he told me in person when I met him here in January. The little yacht, in which Michael, Yoshiko Kyoko, my good friend Florian from Switzerland and I are going to drive around off Taiji for a few hours, is part of this project.
The mood is as marvellous as the bright sun of the quiet morning. I wouldn't have believed that such a journey was possible. But here we are and we are suddenly able to observe everything from the ocean perspective. The harbour, the dolphinarium, the cove... And again, we become aware of the beauty of the landscape surrounding us. It couldn't be more perfect for tourists. But then we discover the hunting boats while we are still 'accompanied' by the coast guard. The happy mood gives way to tension. For the first time, we are watching the dolphin hunters from this perspective.
(Nautical map showing the area off Taiji. The harbour, the lagoon of the dolphinarium and in between the cove can be found as the grey coloured peninsula at the right of centre (c) Hans Peter Roth)
The hunting boats are approaching a lighthouse on a rock about 1.5 miles out of Taiji. Is this a drive hunt? Everything seems chaotic. The boats are obviously on their way to the harbour - but this clearly can't be a drive hunt. The hunters are returning without prey. The death cove remained empty for the sixth day in a row. We as well are returning to the harbour - relieved! In front us, a quiet day without new anguish.
Hans Peter Roth
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