Taiji Or Bust
This year has been an odd year. I have had some horrible low points and I had some of my dreams fulfilled.
I was fortunate enough to spend some time at a farm animal sanctuary in rural England at the beginning of the year. It was only a short period, but it left an imprint on my memory which can never be erased. I will never forget when in the quiet of a cold night a deer tried to break in to my caravan looking for a warm spot to snuggle; or how a large temperamental pig eyed me every time I walked past her. Or how after a day's work we would drink home-brewed beer in the communal caravan, eating popcorn and singing and dancing to the Proclaimers.
Then came my first ever Sea Shepherd campaign in to Namibia. I was part of a team of dedicated, fearless activists who put their lives on the line in order to bring attention to the largest slaughter of wildlife on the African continent. The journey was traumatic and eventful, but I got to be part of a historic event and I worked with some of the most incredible people I have ever met.
I realised that if you want something bad enough, you should go out and get it. Don't dream it. Do it. Be it. For years I have wanted to be a crew member of a Sea Shepherd campaign and I always had Antarctica in my sights; where Japanese whaling vessels hunt hundreds of whales in a sanctuary for "scientific" research. Those familiar with the TV show "Whale Wars" will know what I am talking about. For those who don't know about "Whale Wars," it's worth the watch.
The thing is—I can hardly take off three months to chase whalers through a sanctuary. So I have to be realistic. There are other Sea Shepherd campaigns I could go on (like Operation Desert Seal in Namibia) and Taiji was on my Bucket List. Each year, in a tiny Japanese little fishing village called Taiji, fishermen drive a couple of thousands of dolphins in a hidden cove. Some of the dolphins are sold to dolphin trainers across the world and those who are not chosen are stabbed to death. The mercury-laden meat is given to school children and the public. If you haven't seen the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove, DO SO!!
I had some leave left and I saw little use in using the time to sit at home. I would much rather spend that time doing something constructive. It was Taiji or bust. I had nothing to lose by putting an appeal for donations to fund my trip on Facebook and sending it out to my friends and family. I made enough money to fund my daily living expenses but I was short a plane ticket. Then an old friend of mine from primary school offered to assist.
In less than a month, I will be on the beaches of Taiji documenting the deaths of entire dolphin pods as a Cove Guardian.