Taiji, Japan Blogs

Where to begin..

Hi everyone. First off I would want to say that I hope this blog posting today answers all of the questions that have come in through my email, face-book, here, and my FB message box. Because I just cannot answer them ALL. I’d say that 90% of them are about this group called “Blackfish”, so I hope all questions are answered! 🙂

Let me start at the beginning. Yesterday, in the late morning, two fishermen where hanging around us at the Cove. My dad went and stood by one of them and said “hello”. One guy left, and the other one stayed. To make a long story short, the fishermen threatened my dad saying:

The fishermen said “What did you do last night?”

My dad: “I ate and then I slept, What did you do”

The fishermen: “I slept…You should be in Jail”…

My dad replied: “I do not break Japanese Law”

The fishermen: “I don’t think so, you better watch out”.

We were so disturbed by the fishermen’s new attitude that we called the coast guard officer, who said he to call him when things got weird. Well this was weird. The coast guard told us that something had happened the night before. We figured something happened in the storm earlier that morning. We lightly brushed it off our shoulders, but it was still in the back of our mind.

The coast guard and the police would not tell us what had happened. This was yesterday. When I told you all about the police and squad car pulling up behind us. It was all starting to fall into place… the puzzle that is. The fishermen obviously thought that whatever it was that had happened the night before-it was us. The police were protecting us. We still had no idea from what! I mean, we obviously knew they were protecting us from the fishermen… but why!? No one would tell us.

After all of the events yesterday, when I returned to my computer later last night… this is when I saw the article about this group called “Blackfish”. The puzzle was solved! The fishermen thought that this group and SSCS were some how associated. Let me set things straight right here and now. Myself, my dad and even Paul Watson had never heard of this group until the article was all over the internet. Period. We had absolutely no idea. But the fishermen do not believe that. They think we were giving them hints about areas and “points of interest”, if you will. I know we are going to have a really hard time trying to clear our name. But I have never lied to you all before, and I’m not going to start now. We were not associated with this group whatsoever.

The police knew this. But! Today on our way back from the Aquarium, we drove past the Cove. Eight police officers were waiting for us to drive by. They had been looking for us. We pulled over and got out of the car. I sat on the ground in front of some bushes… while my dad and the eight police officers in formal wear walked to the other side of the parking lot.

What I was thinking: “OKay. He is probably going to be arrested and questioned. It’s okay. You’ll go back and make some calls, get the embassy involved. And go from there.” I was trying to stay as calm as possible. This was a scary situation. We were being framed for something we did not do… and the fishermen wanted/want to hurt us. One officer even said, “I fear for your daughter, I have a sixteen year-old daughter too.”

After much discussion, my dad was sent on his way. This whole thing is getting crazy. We are in the hot seat for something we did not do. It’s very frustrating… and it’s made this whole thing more dangerous.

So! To answer the most commonly asked question: “Is this true”… I’ll have to say “yes it is”. Based on what has been said and everything that has happened to us.


On a more upbeat note.

Today we went to the Kushimoto Marine Park. I will have a big video up on youtube soon after this is posted. It was really fun! Now I realize that this is going to stir up some controversy, but let me be clear… While I am not a fan of captivity for any animal, we went there today to film and show people that it is possible to have a nice aquarium without a live Dolphin or Whale (or any cetacean). Also, it was nice to enjoy a few hours away from the Cove… and to see all of the amazing creatures that should be able to live worry free in the ocean. So please no negative comments, this was part of my school project.

All the photos are up on my Facebook page! I hope you like them 🙂

For the Animals,

Elora Malama

44 thoughts on “Where to begin..”

  1. Amazing journalism you’re doing here thanks, and again, sorry things are so angry in your direction now. I knew of Blackfish through fb recently but had no idea they were there! I was not referring to them when I told you I’d been informed that there were low profile people there from a group other than SSCS. The pressure on those fisherman is bound to cause them to blow up so please don’t let yourself go running in any direction to video something! They’ll have to guard those holding pens all night now too though… kinda nice to see disruption, but worried now someone will get hurt. Stay close to Dad!

  2. Gosh, Elora, I had absolutely NO idea about the Black Fish thing until I got back online about an hour ago. As I went over the comments from your previous blog entries, I learned that some divers from that organization dove into the pitch black waters to cut the nets of about six pens and were able to free some dolphins. I became so confused since I knew from your and your father’s reports that the lights are always on where the pens are and that the captured dolphins are being watched over by security every night. I would have a hard time believing that some divers would sneak in and not be arrested!

    I logged out of my computer right after I posted my last comment. The person that posted his comment right after mine did inform you about the Black Fish activity and posted a link to some news article. I read that after getting back online tonight. I was quite shocked that the divers did not get arrested. I mean, how in the world could they sneak in while the pens were being watched over by security?! It would have taken considerable effort for these divers to cut the nets, and their activity would have been quite noticeable.

    I came across the following news article that makes me wonder if this is some sort of a scheme since the word ‘claim’ has been used to describe the activity, as well as no arrests being made as a result:


    I am extremely concerned about you guys being used as scapegoats for something that all of you did NOT actually do!

    Like you guys, I have never heard of Black Fish. If Captain Paul Watson had heard of it, he would have known and communicated with all of you about it.

    Just be careful, especially being at the Cove and while in the vicinity of the fishermen. I do hope that everything will be OK.

    I am so grateful for another great day for the dolphins and do hope for many more!

    Yes, it would be so wonderful if the aquariums could display the exotic creatures while allowing wild cetaceans to live in peace and harmony in their home environments!


  3. From the Black Fish website (http://www.blackfish.org) it looks like this group only formed last month. So this explains why nobody’s heard of them. I was doubtful about whether there claims were even true as there seemed to be no coverage of this in the media here. I was sure that if something like this happened, the Taiji officials would immediately want to look for sympathy/support using the eco-terrorist approach. But the Black Fish site has no follow-up, no photos or video, no details.

    But from Elora’s experience today, it looks like something did indeed happen. You and your Dad are right to be extra cautious right now as things could easily escalate. You’ve been admirably calm and kept things amicable, which is definitely helping things from getting out of hand.

    1. Mark McBennett:

      I checked the link that you posted, and I am afraid to say this, but this does not seem to be the correct site for the Black Fish organization. The site is mostly about Alaska fishing, as well as sport-fishing trips off the coast of Alaska and British Columbia, Canada.


  4. Thank you so much Elora, for your up-date and for your fantastic write up of events your end. I am sure it will answer many peoples questions. No wonder everyone has been so confused by what has been happening, as everything seems to be shrouded in so much mystery! When you finally hand in your research project to your teachers, they will think you have been watching to many James Bond moves!! 🙂 On a serious note again, do take great care, as it sounds a very tense situation out there at the moment. I think I mentioned before about you writing a book when it’s all over, as I know it would be a best seller, for a very worthy cause! Take care x

  5. Elora, you say that neither your Dad nor Paul Watson had heard of Black Fish until this incident blew up on the Internet. But on their website they have a photo they claim is of the crew of the Bob Barker holding a sign promoting them.

    Either Sea Shepherd did know of them, or this is a hoax. Can you ask your Dad what he thinks?

    1. I’m very proud of the three co-founders who are all Sea Shepherd crew… Wietse van der Werf, Arne Feuerhahn, and Christine Bindal. You’ve seen them on Whale Wars.

      1. Still Sea Shephered cannot be held accountable for every action of their past or present crew. They took responsibility for this under the name of their own organizaiton. That said, I still agree with the actions of the Black Fish but am now worried about the safety of Elora and her Dad. Elora, I am very proud of how you calm you stayed when your Dad was being questioned by the police. I don’t know if I could have been that calm in the same situation.

  6. Thanks for the update Elora – it’s all very confusing and there have been so many hoaxes from both sides of the issue it’s hard to know what’s true. I’ve personally seen Japanese PR and SM people pretending to be Americans quite frequently on the internet, and it wouldn’t really surprise me if this turned out to be a way for the Japanese to remove you just as they get into their October slaughtering.

    I think it’s ironic that Taiji/Japanese fisherman and officials are so arrogant and aggressive towards “the west” on the issue of whale and dolphin killing, while at the same time they actively market their kidnapped dolphins to the “western” aquarium market.

    We’re working with a couple US Senators with the intent of banning the keeping of cetaceans in the Unites States for purpose of shows or exploitation. A similar effort is being mirrored throughout Europe. Even the Chinese are concerned about this issue. We may not be able to get through to the fisherman of Japan, but we can certainly change our actions here in our country by not participating in this systemic rape of the oceans any longer.

  7. Mind you, there are currently no dolphins from Taiji in “western” countries. They go to Asian countries, Middle East is the farthest.

    1. Has anyone truly documented back to the origins of each dolphin in the US? Couldn’t they start in Taiji, go to one dolphinaria … stay awhile, then sold to someone who then sells to Sea World? I don’t think anyone can 100% say the formerly-now captive-dolphins didn’t originate from Japan.

      I’m sure they have methods to cover their trails.

      Regardless, there should be no more wild dolphins sold/purchased anywhere in the world. There are enough in captivity now– and they should all be rehabilitated where they don’t have to entertain people for food.

      1. Yes Cali, as a matter of fact the purchase of the killer whale Gudrun by SeaWorld from the Dolfinarium at Harderwijk, Holland in the 80’s shows quite clearly that SeaWorld USA was essentially trading SeaWorld Kamogawa animals for the transaction. In spring 1987, Sea World took a total of 12 pseudorcas from Iki, despite having NMFS permits for only six. The six ‘permitted’ animals were flown to San Diego, one dying en route. The remaining half dozen were sent on a bumpy 12 hour journey to Kamagawa Sea World aboard a flatbed truck. Three of these animals, caught without ‘permits’, were to be used as trade goods to barter for the killer whale Gudrun. An MMIR report, dated 23/3/94 lists their collector as
        ‘Kamogawa Sea World, Japan’ and not SeaWorld USA. Gudrun died in February 1996 at SeaWorld Florida. And just recently the purchase of a pilot whale from ‘Kamogawa Sea World, Japan’ by SeaWorld San Diego. These serve as further proof about the long standing relationship between Sea World USA and ‘Kamogawa Sea World, Japan’and that SeaWorld Kamogawa may simply be a holding pen for SeaWorld USA in the event that permits can not be readily obtained.

      2. Thank you, rescuedolphins, for that link. However, it doesn’t give the origin of the animals, only that it was a “wild capture”. According to this site, info was obtained from the National Marine Fisheries Service. I am currently looking on their site to see if they publicize the path each animal has taken to get to this point. However, if any of them came from another country and that country doesn’t keep a record of such. then we can only follow as far back as to the country we got it from.

      3. If the animals are imported from other countries the data appears to say “Yes” in the “Imported?” section. So I think we can at least know if they came from outside US. I’ve looked at quite a few dolphins but most are “not” imported.

        Does Japan keep similar record to this? I hope so. Does anyone know anything about such information?

      1. Geena,

        Many thanks for posting this! This is really an interesting commentary. I believe that Chris Porter is the individual who recenty had a change of heart afer having been the main exporter/dealer of dolphins from the Solomon Islands, is this correct?

  8. This dolphin trade truly sickens me. I cannot believe these people have become monsters just because of a few bucks. They are monsters to be so upset and potentially violent over money. There is no culture to dolphin captivity there, it’s all money to them. All their claims of culture are lies. All they want is money. Truly sickening. Why don’t they learn real skills, instead of killing dolphins. Kudos to blackfish. Hopefully this is just the beginning. Someone should just destroy the whole damn cove.

  9. At a peak of frustration concerning all of this, I wrote the following to Sea World:

    “You are a part of the atrocities that transpire in Taiji, Japan and other locations that support your greed. The world is changing and you will go down in history as the evil ones. If you do not consider what you do as wrong, then you are obviously drenched in a blood bath of ignorant bliss. Who will save your soul?”

    I was enraged at the time and realize that I could have been a bit more subtle. Nevertheless, I just received a reply and wanted to share it with you; as follows:

    Mr. Cleveland,

    We have nothing to do with the drive hunt in Japan. We do not collect animals from drive hunts and have voiced our opposition to the practice countless times. It is a violation of U.S. law to import animals collected in this manner. More than 85 percent of the marine mammals in our care were born in our parks. Not a single animal in our parks is from a drive hunt. Not one.

    The producers of The Cove lie regularly about this and ought to be ashamed of themselves. Learn more here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tbwUEQo4Yo

    Fred Jacobs

    I am impressed that I was replied to personally. I also perceive that this man believes what he is saying.

    1. I watched the video. It seems like they went through a lot of trouble to defend themselves. Regardless, there should neither be dolphins nor whales held in captivity save for temporary medical aid.

    2. Arguing with a Sea Word fan one day she told me that they were part of a group that send a letter every now and then telling Japan that it is bad. Since these so called “Ambassadors of the Sea” make them so much money why don’t they do more to try to save the animals like advertise against the hunts, inform the Japanese people. Just do alot more than send a letter once a year that gets thrown in the trash just as soon as they get it. I used to be a season ticket holder at Sea World but I will never step foot in any marine aquariums untill they do alot more to save these dolphins and whales.

      1. If according to them they are so against it why not inform their customer base with literature at the parks. Why? Because they only use this supposed opposition to the drive fisheries as an excuse to say that they are doing something about it when one questions their motives. Educating their customer base would not help their profit margin.

    3. He is getting paid for what he is saying, that’s why he believes it.

      It’s funny how the story changes. Here’s an excerpt again from the response I received from the Director of Communications at SeaWorld:

      “As an aside, SeaWorld has also not collected any animals from the wild in nearly 25 years. We have one of the finest marine mammal breeding programs in the world. The vast majority of animals in our zoological population, more than 80 percent, were born in our park. And the presence of SeaWorld does not and has never had a bearing on the existence of the Japanese cetacean shore hunt that began in Taiji more than 335 years ago. ”

      So the question is this, if over 80% or 85%were born in the parks, then how did the original 15% get there? Surely, some were a result of the Japanese shore hunt.

      Also, in praising their breeding program they forget to mention that the majority of the time they do not provide proper prenatal care resulting in many needless deaths. For example, the death of a dolphin named Dixie and her infant which was stillborn, as well as that of a dolphin named Scarlet (whose calf died in utero) and who was then placed in a tank in the back of the park only to die there 6 days later with no medical care offered for her ruptured uterus. This all transpired within a 3 week period at the Discovery Cove owned by SeaWorld in the months of June and July of ’09 and was investigated by the USDA thanks to a whistleblower.

      1. Regardless of how ocean parks came about their dolphin inventory, either by birth in the parks or by wild capture, it is no life for this animal who in the wild travels vast distances and enjoys the freedom of the sea. Just because the dolphins have never known any better by being born in captivity, doesn’t make it right. Also, although they claim they do not have animals that come from this hunt, Sea World (and other U.S. ocean parks) are indirectly guilty because of the influential money maker they are. It encourages other countries to open their own parks. And where do you think these countries get their animals from? Taiji? Sea World should be a leader and do the right thing. Close the parks and encourage others to follow.

      2. they list a lot of the animals as originating from “beached/stranded” – OK, so if they were beached why weren’t they returned to the ocean instead of being kidnapped and forced to do tricks for food?

      3. could you please expand on what happened at discovery cove and provide some links if possible?

        I know someone who desperately needs to learn about this.

    4. I don’t care if their dolphins are not from drive hunts. It is still unethical to confine them to a saltwater pool and make them perform tricks.

      They are another race of sentient beings, and they evolved to roam the ocean- not to entertain humans. I have encountered wild dolphins and what surprised me the most is that they usually have very little interest in humans. They were made to chase down and eat tasty fish.

      One Thing Ric O’Barry said that you can not just try to “fact-check” away…

      He led the 60 Minutes crew to the main arena, where a small crowd watched the first dolphin show of the day. “They have nowhere to go and nothing to do – it’s cruel and unusual,” he said. “The only way out is death. You literally bore them to death. You go to the Sydney Zoo and look at the snake exhibit: there’s trees and branches. Even a cold-blooded snake is given more consideration.”


      Have you ever seen dolphins in captivity, and then seen how they live in the wild? There is no comparison. Living in a tiny saltwater pool that is about as stimulating as an old time insane asylum or prison is no way to live at all.

    5. Interesting that’s the exact video that a lot of the Japanese pro whalers are circulating. Was wondering how this “US producer” got manifests of whales and dolphins killed in Japan. Everything that comes out of this dolphin industry is a load of BS.

      1. Geena:

        From one of your comment posts:

        “they list a lot of the animals as originating from “beached/stranded” – OK, so if they were beached why weren’t they returned to the ocean instead of being kidnapped and forced to do tricks for food?”

        To answer your question:

        Stranded cetaceans are usually rescued and taken to rehabilitation facilities for medical care until they are well enough to be released back into the wild. The primary goal of many facilities is to release their cetacean patients after their rehabilitation stints are over. However, there are some that cannot be released because their conditions would not allow them to survive in the wild. So, these cetaceans are being taken to public display facilities for long-term care since they no longer need to be rehabilitated. I do hope this answers your question.


  10. I am sickened to hear that some fishermen are threatening you and that some people associate you with law-breakers and that some people are attempting to use you as a scapegoat. I am so glad that the police are guarding you. Mostly I am comforted that you are with your dad. He’s a savvy and strong person. Stay close to him, please. I can only imagine how scary it must be for you. Thanks for the great reports you are sending.

  11. Interesting that Blackfish has a pic of Ric O’barry on their site. http://www.theblackfish.org/ I hope their actions don’t put you in danger Elora. It is too bad that they didn’t some how clear you and your dad of wrong doing while taking the claim that they did this and cut the nets.

  12. Amazed that you stayed so calm, thinking about calling embassies and what not if your dad had been arrested.. you are truely everything I wish my daughter to be..congrats to your parents on a wonderful job of raising you… Yeah for some dolphins being saved..boo for the people who didn’t think it threw to know they were putting others in danger…still keeping the faith this whole thing will soon end..and keeping all over there including the dolphins and whales in prayer. 🙂 stay strong!!

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