The last time Marley Daviduk and Carisa Webster travelled to Japan to document the slaughter of dolphins, they barely escaped with their own lives after a massive earthquake and resulting tsunami destroyed much of the coastline along northern Japan.
The team sought refuge on a hill and watched as the sea flooded in, tearing apart the town of Otsuchi. What wasn’t destroyed by water was on fire, and the pair watched as human bodies swirled in the devastation.
Forced to abandon their mission last March, Daviduk and Webster are returning to Japan in September, this time to Taiji, their original destination, to document and observe dolphins being butchered for meat. Those that aren’t slaughtered are abused into submission and sold in the live dolphin trade.
“Taiji, made famous through the movie The Cove, ended the slaughter a month early last season so we changed our plans and went 1,000 kilometres up the coast to Otsuchi,” said Daviduk. “We’re going back to do what we had intended to do in the first place and that is expose the slaughter.”
With a country on edge as a result of the earthquake damage and nuclear radiation concerns, Daviduk and Webster are prepared for a much different Japan.
But the country’s challenges doesn’t give it licence to continue butchering dolphins, said Webster.
“We don’t intend to cause too much trouble, we just want people to be aware of the dolphin slaughter,” she said. “We’re very considerate of the problems that they’ve had in the last while.”
According to friends who have been at the site Daviduk and Webster plan to document from, Japanese police are ramping up drills to deal with activists who disturb the fishermen.
“All we’re planning on doing is filming and asking questions,” said Daviduk. “We saw they were preparing to deal with activists who jump on the nets and cut them, but we’re not planing anything like that.”
Webster said she believes the police are there practising as much for activists’ safety as for the fishermen.
They plan to stay in Taiji filming for three weeks.
In March, Daviduk and Webster were working with activist group Sea Shepherd. With that organization unable to provide members to film this fall, Webster said it’s as important as ever to have “compassionate eyes” documenting the slaughter and sending the story out to the world.
The pair established their own blog (at www.cetaceandefenseleague.blogspot.com) to share their stories and experiences, including photos of the devastation from their first trip. They both took on multiple jobs to help pay for their travel and accommodations, but have established donation options on the blog site to provide them with financial assistance.
Webster said despite the risks, their efforts are worth it.
“We’re very determined and compassionate people, so I think we’ll get done what we need to get done,” said Webster. “We feel we need to go to Japan in particular because our oceans are in dire condition and nobody is really talking about that. Large animals like dolphins are an important part of our ecosystem which we all depend on. We’re devastating the dolphin population and it needs to be known.”