In October, we posted a story about Elora Malama West, a 16-year-old Edmonds girl who along with her father, Scott West, had traveled to Taiji, Japan as representatives of the Sea Shepherd Society. Their mission: To document the dolphin killings made famous by the Academy Award-winning documentary “The Cove.”
My Edmonds News had an opportunity to sit down with Elora and Scott shortly after they returned in mid-December and talk about their experiences in Taiji. Scott, a former criminal investigator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Seattle office, heads the Sea Shepherd’s Department of Intelligence and Investigations. Elora, who is enrolled in the Running Start program through Edmonds Heights K-12 school, decided to accompany her father and use her experiences for her senior project.
During her time in Japan, Elora wrote a daily blog, “A Teenage Activist…This Girl’s Soapbox,” and also took photographs and videos of Japanese fishermen as they used their boats to drive dolphins into the cove, capturing some of them for dolphin shows around the world and killing most or all of the rest. (According to Scott West, the meat is either consumed locally or falsely labeled and sold as whale meat, since Japanese citizens don’t routinely eat dolphin and in fact view it similarly to how most Americans would view eating a dog.)
Both daughter and father made the trip knowing that their visit to Taiji was controversial (many local residents resent having the international spotlight on their town) and had talked about what they would do if they were arrested. Scott West actually was detained for a while by local police, but was eventually released.
Elora, who turned 17 while in Taiji, talks here about her reaction when she arrived at the Cove for the first time:
And here, Scott and Elora discuss why Sea Shepherd’s efforts are focused on Taiji (it’s because of the recognition the town received through the movie), why Edmonds residents should be concerned about the dolphin killings, and the key role that dolphins and other ocean predators play in the ocean’s ecosystem. “One of the things that Captain Watson (Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Society) says often is that when the oceans die, we die, and there’s a lot of scientific credibility for that statement,” Scott West said.