The Pacific Ocean glittering in the morning sun with lush green mountains in the background and a majestic coastline. Then at the same time there were 12 high-engine powered boats out there before my eyes – chasing dolphins. I feared the worst and hoped for the best – for the pod to escape the dolphin hunters.The pod did escape that morning Sasha said. "My relief felt as bright as the sun," he added. But just observing the drives wasn't enough for Abdolmajid, he wanted to tackle long standing barricades. "Every story has two sides," he said. "I talked to a local fish and dolphin meat seller in Kii Katsuura, a town adjacent to Taiji," Sasha explained and "I asked him, via Google Translator, hand signals and very little English, if he eats dolphin meat? He looked around to make sure that no one observed him and said, laughing, "NO, I don't! Young people do not ask for dolphin and whale meat. Only old people ask for it, but the demand is decreasing." A journey of self-discovery The activist said he realized that "things would definitely not be solved by vandalism, destruction of property, by harassment and insults. Cooperation, rather than confrontation is needed" he added, along with an ability "to learn, to understand, to see all sides." "What would the dolphin hunters do if they stopped hunting?" Sasha asks, "what alternatives is there for them professionally, to earn a living and feed their families? Not many activists think about that or the general complexity of the situation down there." Taiji citizens appear unaware Abdolmajid walked down to visit the Taiji Whale Museum which he said is "just 200 meters down the road" from the Cove. "Once again the bizarre contrasts of this place were striking" he explained, "they could literally kill dozens of dolphins around the corner while a clapping audience watched a dolphin show right here." Speaking with the lady at the whale museum bookstore, Sasha said:
When I explained to her that until a few years ago there were up to 2000 dolphins killed in the cove next door every season and even last season still close to 800, she didn't believe me, even though I know the official numbers. This is how little information goes round in Japan sometimes, especially if not pertinent.Two dolphins have become symbols of Taiji Taiji Whale Museum displays the dolphins captured in the Cove, and two spotted dolphins held a special place in Abdolmajid's heart. Originally named 'Sad and Lonely' by dolphin activists, the dolphins were held in the smallest tank in the world inside the whale museum. Seeing the lethargic nature of the two cetaceans, a large campaign was launched to ask the museum to move the dolphins to a larger tank. "Those two beautiful spotted dolphins were vivid and eager to interact with us, in spite of still being confined in a small pool," said Sasha. The dolphins had been moved to an outdoor pool with a little more room and renamed 'Hope and Faith'. Abdolmajid said that thanks had to go to "Enson Innoue, a famous Japanese martial artist, who convinced Mayor Sangen of Taiji to free these two poor animals." And also to Mayor Sangen for his compassion, and because he ordered that the tiny tank be closed. [See video of Hope and Faith].
Toshiaki, an animal and dolphin lover expected us at the hotel and invited us to an animal welfare demonstration the next day. Hundreds of very well organized enthusiastic "No Fur" demonstrators walked down the main roads and the most crowded pedestrian intersection in Shibuya, drawing the attention of ten thousands of people."There is change in this country" Sasha said, and "growing awareness." Excitedly, Abdolmajid informs me that there will actually be "an anti-dolphin-hunting demonstration towards the end of November, organized by the Japanese." Further opportunities presented themselves at the "No Fur" rally, the activist said, offering "us the unique opportunity to further network with dolphin lovers, to work together, and support them in the best possible way. We cannot stop the dolphin slaughter in Japan," said Sasha, "only the Japanese can."
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