07 July, 2008

Unmistakably Japanese

This is the fourth installment of Hominids, the unedited version of the award winning article by Patrick Schwarz, founder and managing director of Scuba Seraya Resort in Tulamben (Bali - Indonesia).
The edited version of Patrick's article will appear to start with in the October issue of the Ocean Geographic Journal by the Ocean Geographic Society which is well worth checking out regardless. Worth considering subscription at the Premier level to have exclusive invites to OG's expeditions and events!!!
Unmistakably Japanese:
Besides the regular slaughter of a thousand whales in Antarctic waters each southern summer, every January the bay at Teiji in southern Japan turns read with a flood of warm blood. Thousands of Bottle Nose Dolphins are being herded into the bay and their escape route back into the open sea cut off. There, “humans” slit their throats and awkwardly stab their chests in an often failed attempt to penetrate their hearts. Many of the Dolphins take hours to bleed to death.
I am not a sentimentalist. Pictures of dying, bleeding whales and their calves being towed up the stern-end ramp of a purpose built floating slaughter house and thousands of Dolphins bleeding to death shock, grieve, hurt and anger me no more nor less than any other warm-blooded being with a muscle beating inside that’s supposed to be more than just a mere pump. Yet these are emotions; feeble, finicky human notions that pass as quickly as falling stars in the night, latest by the time the next shocking news flicker up on our Sharps, Sonys, Toshibas, Panasonics or what have you. Sciences have come a long way over the last 3 decades. Their ongoing revelations necessitate an equally ongoing process of learning and re-thinking by all of us. It is scientifically proven that Whales and Dolphins are not just fish. They are extremely sensitive, intelligent, warm blooded mammals that have been around longer than we have. Take the x-ray of the fin of a Whale or a Dolphin and look at the bone structure; it is all too obvious to see where we came from. Take the countless – true – stories where Dolphins saved human lives. Or the proven therapeutic, healing effects swimming with and touching Dolphins have on humans. Or even that of a Whale re-surfacing a drowning snorkeller. Simply declaring anti whalers and opponents to the Dolphin slaughter sentimentalists totally misses the point.
Because of such indifference to new knowledge of these life forms, Japanese culture (to me) is an oxymoron. Japanese culture is based on Buddhism, the world’s most tolerant religion or philosophy. It respects nature and has finely tuned the ways and traditions how we humans relate to it and interact with it. Especially Zen Buddhism, the form of religion that is based on meditation rather than the mere study of religious text, produced a normally open minded, tolerant society. The Japanese view the world in dichotomies. They call it shikitari, which roughly translated means coexistence.
It is therefore especially difficult to comprehend Japans arrogance and official justification of the slaughter of Whales under the disguise of “research” and Dolphins as “inherent traditional rights”. This behaviour can not be condemned enough in the strongest possible language:
Whales and Dolphins are of superior, kinder and gentler intelligence that eludes us humans. Their slaughter is tantamount to murder. When the Japanese government tolerates, defends and even endorses these brutal mass murders that take place in the Antarctic and the Bay of Teiji, they behave no differently than they did in China and South-East Asia during Imperialistic times. The rest of the world has every right to protest and do whatever it takes to stop such irresponsible, ignorant and inhuman behaviour not fit for the 21st century.
To be continued with the 5th and final part... stay tuned!

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