Friday, May 6, 2011

Taiji and Puffs of Black Smoke

Of all the images of Taiji that are etched in my mind, the puffs of black smoke are among the most haunting.
Black smoke blinds its victims and causes cancer. Black smoke could be the result of a fire or volcano, or it could be an iconic image of evil in classic literature. In Taiji, when there was black smoke, there was fear, panic, and desperation. It was normally dolphins, but yesterday it was pilot whales, who were fighting for their lives.
The geography of Taiji is unique and the killers use it to their advantage. Initially I wondered why the dolphins were first driven into the harbour and then along the coast. Once they are in the harbour, they are corralled into a channel that hugs the coast and leads to the cove. As the water depth decreases, the dolphins have a choice of trying to escape the horrible wall of sound by swimming through the shallow water; a frightening option because they fear shallow water, or they can go into the killing cove.   
Sometimes we could see the banger boats on the horizon. When they spotted dolphins, they would throttle their engines, belch smoke, and take up their deadly formation. The puffs of black smoke told us the killers had found their prey.
For a while the smoke would be erratic and the bows of the boats would point in different directions while the dolphins attempted to elude their stalkers. Sometimes the dolphins would escape, but often the boats and the smoke would move to the harbour and eventually return along the coastline. We could hear the banging and the roar of the engines. The black smoke at the mouth of the cove was horrific. For me, it symbolized death.  
In a horror movie, a big puff of smoke could mean the monster has been destroyed, but in Taiji, it is the monsters that are destroying the dolphins with callous efficiency.

Although I am at home, thousands of miles from Taiji on a beautiful Island, watching the blue herons take advantage of the low tide to find their dinner, I can still see the banger boats and the puffs of smoke that predicted the death of the innocents.
For the Oceans,

Janice Oceans (on Facebook)
@janice_oceans (on Twitter)
Please call the Japanese Embassy to voice your objections. The monsters plan to murder 200 pilot whales in Taiji within the next few weeks. 
Japanese Embassy, Washington D.C.: (202) 238-6700
Japanese Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7465 6500.
Japanese Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 241 8541.
Japanese Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6273 3244.
Japanese Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 452 1500.
Japanese Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 202 8300.
Japanese Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 473 1540