Blog | A Rainbow over Taiji

A Rainbow over Taiji

September 1, 2012 by Mark Palmer, Save Japan Dolphins

By Mark J. Palmer
Associate Director
International Marine Mammal Project
Earth Island Institute

At 7 AM this morning, on Saturday September 1st, the clouds and rain were closed in over the town of Taiji.  I thought we might have to cancel our extensive plans for the beach at the Cove, or at least do so out in the rain.

But the clouds parted a half-hour later, revealing a beautiful rainbow over Taiji and clearing skies.  In fact, I wound up getting a sunburn at the Cove.

Our bus arrived with a large contingent – we were now 34 people including 8 Japanese nationals.  The police were there in force, including two rubber zodiacs sitting in the water just offshore. 

A rainbow appears above Taiji on Sept. 1st, 2012.

This year also, we had a large contingent of shouting nationalists, throwing insults at us and telling us to go home.   Around and about were the Taiji dolphin hunters, but they mostly just hung out and watched.  Several individuals of the nationalists tried three or four times to come barreling down to the beach where we were, shouting, but the police ranged themselves between us and them.

We, of course, were not there to confront or yell back at the nationalist people – that is not our style and not the way Ric O’Barry and the Dolphin Project choose to work. 

Our signs say, in Japanese: Dolphin Meat is Poisoned by Mercury.

We silently held signs stating: “Dolphin Meat is Poisoned with Mercury.”  And we conducted a series of events on the beach for the media, as well as conducting several interviews with reporters and cameramen. 

I mentioned above that we had eight Japanese nationals with us this year, opposing the dolphin hunting in Taiji.  Several of them spoke to the media on our behalf.  It was great to have their perspective out to the Japanese people.

Our Japanese Dolphin Project Team at the Cove, Taiji.

When we got our Ustream session going, we formed a circle of our group of 34 dolphin activists on the beach, holding a long moment of silence (punctuated by shouts and jeers from the nationalists, of course) for the souls of the dolphins that have died in the Cove and that will die in the Cove this coming year.  We also wanted to remember the souls of the Japanese people who have perished in two natural disasters recently – the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit northern Japan and the typhoon last year at this time that hit Taiji and Wakayama Prefecture.  Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project had people on the ground during both disasters – fortunately, none of us were injured.  But we feel for the Japanese people.

Artist Russ Ligtas of the Philippines performs his Butoh dance at the Cove, Taiji.

After our moment of silence. Russ Litgas did a Butoh dance of grief for the souls of the dolphins.  It was a very moving dance of all the anguish we all feel during the dolphin hunts.  Arielle accompanied Russ on her guitar.  It moved many of us to tears (I confess I got a bit teary-eyed myself).

Arielle on guitar, for Russ's Butoh dance.

Arielle then sang a song she wrote about the Cove.  Once again (as during Russ’s dance), the nationalists did not let up in hurling insults and trying to out-shout her.   It did not matter.  She had gone swimming in the Cove the night before, and she said a butterfly came by over her head with a full moon overhead (a blue moon, actually, on August 31st), signifying to her that the Cove was indeed changing.  Arielle won’t let anything stop her singing, nor will any of us who came to the Cove today let anything get in the way of stopping the dolphin hunts.

Arielle singing at the Cove, Taiji.  Daniella holds Ric's Save Japan Dolphins nobori banner.

It was both a happy time with new and old friends, and a sad time, as we know the hunts are going to begin.  Many of us will leave Japan next week, but a few us will be staying on to monitor the Cove and bring word of what is happening there to this blog and to other outlets.

And tomorrow, at the Cove, Ric O’Barry will arrive.

In addition to these blogs, follow us on twitter:


For Japanese:

See our Ustream Channel for today’s broadcast and for the next two days (times and dates shown are for Tokyo time):

Noon Sunday, Sept. 2nd:  Broadcast from Taiji.
Noon Monday, Sept. 3rd:  Broadcast from Taiji.

Ric O’Barry’s Ustream Channel: 


Photographs by Mark J. Palmer.

Share |