The luck runs out

Sunrise seems to sneak up suddenly here in Katsuura. As the sun rises, part of my morning routine is to check the weather from the hotel balcony as I drink my morning green tea. Today was a carbon copy of the past two days…clear skies with light winds. It’s going to be another of  “those” days. I pack the gear and make the drive to Taiji in the chill morning air. Sure enough Taiji harbour is emptied of drive boats, and again I muse at the fact that such a beautiful place is turned so ugly by all of this.

Up the road to the point lookout out and the fleet is already out to sea a mile or two offshore, jockeying from position to position. Bob has dubbed the dozen drive boats the “12 Deadly Sins”…a very apt description I think to myself as ugly puffs of black smoke rise from their funnels as they methodically change position with an evil intent. The surface of the water is calm and smooth and I scan the waters for signs of dolphins breaching. Nothing. I hope it stays that way. I would love nothing more than to see the entire fleet parade back to harbour empty-handed like yesterday. Today I want to wave as they come in, I tell Bob. I continually check my watch. 9.30. Still nothing. The standard drill is for the fleet to call it quits and return if they have no luck by late morning.

The fleet finds the pod near the harbour mouth

At time ticks by I start to feel more confident that the day will be a happy one. The fleet is driving closer to the coast and still no sightings. I note that two boats have hydrophone poles in the water. Bastards. It’s like watching an evil ballet out on the water. Not long after 10.00 the luck runs out. I pick up the slow breaching of a small pod of dolphins. They are packed close together and breaching only very occasionally. I scan the fleet…perhaps they haven’t noticed. No such luck…like leeches the drive boats home in. Then the hammering of the poles commences – the sound is like defeat to me. We run to the car and head to the cove. It turns out to be a pod of five rissos dolphins.

Close to the cove the pod turns unexpectedly and I am physically and mentally willing them to find the way back to sea.

Again the hammering starts and the nets positioned. It evokes feelings of anger and of defeat. Nonetheless I stand motionless with shoulders back. I know that behind me, up on the footpath above the beach two fishermen are watching me from behind. One day I swear that hammering is going to stop. I am developing that “poker face” that characterises the Japanese.

5 rissos were lost today.

For the dolphins.

The net is drawn around the pod

The pod almost escapes but the boats are there

The skiffs enter the cove

Cove guardian Libby faces down the last boat


3 responses to “The luck runs out

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