Izumi Ishii’s Beautiful Boat The Beautiful Kohkaimaru
“For all of us who ever wished that dolphin slaughter could be replaced by dolphin watching, here’s a chance to put our money where our mouth is.
You have probably heard of Izumi Ishii, the ONLY dolphin-hunter-turned-dolp…
This is Izumi Ishii San - a former dolphin hunter who, in 1996 did a complete 180 and went from dolphin hunting to anti-hunting and began to use his boat for dolphin watching tours. He cares very much for dolphins and is a beautiful and hopeful example of what’s possible.
Unfortunately, this transformation has been very difficult - the Futo fishery union is very unsupportive, in fact, cold to him. They do not cooperate with Mr. Ishii since he changed his position from hunter to anti-hunting. Since then, he has been standing alone, but his dolphin watching business has struggled greatly, and so he is in financial trouble.
He has a loan that has to be paid by February 9th. He has collected some of the money owed, but he is still short 150,000 Japanese Yen, which is about $1800 US dollars. He has been struggling for quite some time, with a commitment to never going back to hunting. It has certainly been the harder route. If he cannot pay off his loan by the due date, he has to give up on the boat and also give up on the dolphin watching business.
I am heading back to Japan in August and I plan to visit Mr. Ishii. I truly hope he is able to keep his business through the help of all of the dolphin warriors out there all over the world. If Mr. Ishii’s business fails, it will give the other hunters more reasons to keep hunting. And if he is successful, then the opposite can be true! Let’s support him!!!
Please visit the Facebook event page and donate - even $10 will help him! Donation information is included on the event page.
Today I was standing at a gas station pumping my gas, not really paying much attention to anyone around me. A beat up old car pulled up at the pump next to mine, and a young woman got out of the car. In the back seat was a little girl, probably around two years old, and she saw me and smiled a huge smile. I smiled back. Then she waved. And I waved. Then she started blowing me kisses. And I returned them. It was one of the most beautiful, pure exchanges I’ve had with another human being. And in that moment, I thought, “There it is. That’s our true nature.” We were born with that type of pure love for others, and although time and experience can seem to overshadow that purity, it is still in us because we ARE that. It’s what makes us give money to a homeless person or donate to causes, it’s what makes us volunteer, it’s what makes us drive our friend to the airport at 5am, it’s what makes moms spoil their 37-year old daughters, it’s what makes our friends sit on the phone with us and just listen when we’re having a spiritual meltdown, it’s what makes us gather together to help strangers after a disaster, it’s what makes us fight for dolphins, it’s what makes us do all things kind and good.
Our nature is pure - love, compassion, kindness. That little girl taught me this in a sweet and unexpected new way, and after a tough morning battling fear and doubt, she reminded me that the other way feels better. And it’s the truth.
And this evening, I ran across this article on Facebook - the title - 26 Moments That Restored Our Faith in Humanity This Year. No accident. I read it and smiled and thought of that little girl this morning, who had no idea the impact she had on me. I hope she has a beautiful life.
There have been several photos and videos circulating the Internet recently that show the horrible process of how tanks are cleaned in dolphinariums. The water is drained from the tank and the dolphins are actually left lying there while the workers clean around them. It is absolutely inhumane and another very clear example of why captivity is such a crime against these beautiful beings.
Here’s the link to Ric’s blog where he talks about the recent photos and videos.
I’m absolutely heartbroken hearing the news of today’s slaughter of a pod of Risso’s dolphins at the cove in Taiji. Three dolphins were sold into a horrible life of captivity, and the rest were slaughtered. Up until today, it had been a miraculous 20 days of peace at the cove, and as grateful as I was to have almost 3 kill-free weeks, my heart remained sad knowing the fisherman would inevitably be successful at some point.
My thoughts are with the Save Japan Dolphins Cove Monitors and the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians who had to witness today’s slaughter.
Please visit SaveJapanDolphins.org to help end these yearly hunts.
I want to personally thank all of you for your amazing support of me and this journey I’ve been on. We are very excited for this Saturday’s screening - thank you to all of you for your incredibly generous donations and thank you to everyone at Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project for donating copies of “The Cove” and other goodies. I am so grateful and so floored by everyone’s kindness and generosity.
We’ve decided not to show the entire CNN segment at the screening on Saturday, so I’m posting it here for you to watch if you’re interested…
This story aired on Jane Velez Mitchell (CNN Headline News) on Friday, September 21st, 2012. The segment includes clips from my personal video footage shot while I was in Taiji with Save Japan Dolphins and Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, training to be a Cove Monitor. My footage is shown at the start of the segment, as well as immediately after the commercial break. You’ll hear me narrating in the background over my video of the first drive of pilot whales in the 2012/2013 season. I was absolutely devastated. I’m grateful that I was able to capture something that would help get this story louder and louder because the more people know about what’s going on in Taiji, the closer we’ll get to ending this.
For information about how you can get involved, please contact Save Japan Dolphins at SaveJapanDolphins.org.
Please watch CNN Headline News Jane Velez Mitchell on HLN today at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific time - they’re airing a story on the Taiji dolphins! I’m so happy this issue is getting some attention. CNN requested some of my footage from Taiji for the segment. I don’t know if they’ll use any of it, but this is one of the videos I submitted to them. It is our wonderful Kiki Tanaka explaining why we were denied entrance to the Taiji Whale Museum.
I left class tonight and immediately checked my Facebook for any updates on Taiji…my heart sank as I read an update from Becca, our Save Japan Dolphins Cove Monitor - a very large pod of pilot whales has once again been driven into the cove and are being kept overnight. This photo was taken by Martyn Stewart - I don’t know who he is, and I think he is working independently, but he is posting lots of updates and powerful photos and videos, and I’m grateful for it. I am not sure of the numbers…some are saying 60ish and some are saying up to 100 pilot whales are in this pod, including mamas and their babies. Either way, it’s a big one, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking.
An update on the mama pilot whale who was taken on September 7th while I was still in Taiji - all I know is she is still very sick and fighting for her life. Sun-scorched from being put in a tiny sea pen in shallow waters and not able to get any relief. My guess is she’s also in shock and incredibly traumatized from being herded into the cove by the horribly loud banging of hammers on metal poles, and then shoved further in by the fishermen’s propellers, and then separated from her family and locked in a tiny pen with several other very unhappy dolphins.
She’s in my heart tonight, as are all of the pilot whales trapped in the cove to await their fate in the morning. There’s a sixteen hour time difference between California and Taiji, so when I wake up, there will be news. None of it will be good.
I woke up this morning to a very sad update on the captive pilot whales that were a part of the pod whose capture I witnessed in Taiji.
Two juveniles and their mom had been sold for captivity and have been held in the tiny sea pens at Dolphin Base. This video from Martyn Stewart shows the mother now very sick, paralyzed, and floating at the surface of the water, with one of her young circling her and nudging her. And there is no one there to care for her or comfort her.
It’s absolutely heartbreaking and infuriating.
The captivity industry directly supports and fuels these dolphin hunts and this type of cruelty. The best thing we can do here is not to support this this industry, whether it’s dolphin and whale shows at Sea World or swimming with the dolphins while on vacation. This type of illness and cruelty is more common than you would think, and the captivity industry would have us think they are all about education and preservation. They’re all about money, and that’s IT. These beautiful animals do not belong in captivity!
I’ve been home from Taiji since Saturday night, but my heart is still there with the dolphins.
I walked off the plane in San Francisco, and I immediately checked my Facebook to see what had happened to my pilot whales that had spent the night in the cove. 3 had been sold into captivity, and the rest were slaughtered. I burst into tears in the airport bathroom. I was and still am devastated.
And it hasn’t stopped. This is only the beginning of a long, horrible, bloody season.
The fishermen are changing their tactics this year. For several days, they have been capturing dolphins and trapping them overnight in the cove. This hasn’t been done for years.
I’ve been on Facebook more than ever before, checking for updates on Taiji. Since I’ve been home, I have felt such sadness, such helplessness knowing that this isn’t going to stop and there’s absolutely nothing I can do from here. I considered taking a break from checking for updates just for my own emotional health, but I just can’t do it. I need to know. And I’ve decided that what I can do from here is stay as informed as possible and share all the information and photos and videos with as many people as possible.
There’s a sound recordist over in Taiji right now. I don’t know him, but his name is Martyn Stewart. He has been shooting footage and posting updates on Facebook. I’m including a recent video that he posted. It’s heartbreaking. It shows the recent capture of a pod of bottlenose dolphins. During this long, exhausting hunt, some of the pod escaped and swam for their lives, but the hunters found them and returned them to the cove. In this pod, there were mama’s with their babies, who have now been separated because several have been sold to dolphin trainers.
Today I’m so sad. It’s the anniversary of one of the most horrific examples of the absolute worst of who we are as human beings. My heart is so heavy with these reminders of this experiment called “humanity.” My friend Bubba, who is very wise, once said that we are just one big epic fail. An experiment that has gone very, very wrong. Some days I agree with him. Most days, I believe that although we have many, many faults, the light will eventually outshine the darkness. And all of us human beings who really are trying to make a difference will finally make a big enough difference to turn things around.