Edmonds daughter, father recount efforts to document dolphin killings

Elora took this photo of dolphins -- destined for captivity or death -- who had been herded into The Cove in Taiji.

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.

  1. Great interview! You guys should be applauded for taking a stand and donating your time and talents to this worthy cause.

  2. Approx. 20,000 dolphins are killed in Japan every year. About 1,800 are killed in Taiji. Even if they were to cease the dolphin hunt in Taiji, around 18,000 dolphins would still be killed. These hunts are legal, it takes place in Japan’s coastal waters and the dolphins in question are not endangered. The decision to continue the dolphin hunt is a question for the people of Taiji to decide for themselves. It is no-one’s business but their own. They most certainly do not want nor require people from other countries dictating to them about what they should or should not do.
    Here is a link to a video from Fuji TV about Taiji and has some interviews with Mr. West.


  3. Thanks
    for your work, terrible work,
    but we are with you in spirit.
    Always against the killings to cruelty
    ignorance and wickedness of man.
    The world is better because of you.

  4. Of course the death of the oceans due to humanity’s intervention is all of our business. It is happening at all levels, from the majestic whales, to human friendly and playful dolphins, right down to the corals.

    Living beings are not natural resources to be capitalistically exploited. These being do not belong to Japan, nor the slaughtermen.

    I find it fairly pathetic that individuals like Neill Kyrre feels obsessed enough spend a large part of his life on the internet attacking caring conservationists like Sea Shepherd.

    Do they really have nothing better to do with their lives? Protecting the environment in whatever area interests us is the highest priority for humanity at this time. We should not condemn those that chose one area or another to specialize in. We need specialists and we need generalists.

    If the Wests so love dolphins that wish to stop their brutal exploitation, that is their business. I think that is perfectly kind and noble.

    What is it that motivates people these poison pen authors following Sea Shepherd around the internet like little doggies trying to sniffing the butt of a big doggie? Adult males attacking 16 year old girls! Weird.

    At least the Sea Shepherd people are going off, having interesting experiences, seeing the world and doing some good. What a wonderful experience for a brave young girl.

  5. Wow, you know you are hitting a nerve and doing something great when the trolls bother to seek out links like this one and comment.

    Japan does not own the world’s dolphins and yes, the annual slaughter in Taiji is just a drop in the bucket of the annual slaughter totals. Choosing to highlight the atrocities here with the popularity of the movie The Cove can help bring awareness to the issue as a whole and create change.

    We must work together to end this senseless slaughter and protect our oceans by saving these marine mammals. We are One people sharing this One planet and we cannot allow our oceans to die.

    For the oceans,

  6. Suzanne,

    Did you watch the video that Neill linked to in his post? Is that how Scott West and his daughter “bring awareness to the issue”? By going to Taiji and telling the people who live there to “go home” if they don’t like foreigners insulting them??? Their behaviour was totally inexcusable and disgusting. There was nothing “kind or noble” about it. That video is being watched all over Japan. My friends and family who have seen it were shocked and outraged by the West’s arrogant, hateful and vile behaviour. Their actions have done nothing for the dolphins. They have only brought shame to themselves, the people of Edmonds and the U.S.

  7. Um, Txexpat…

    I am a USA citizen and I am extremely proud of these two and they have NOT brought shame to the USA! Its people like you who bring shame to where you live and humanity itself!

  8. Rebecca,

    Have you watched that video? Being a hateful bigot is nothing to be proud of. Going to a foreign country and insulting the residents is inexcusable and does nothing to “raise awareness”.
    You stated in your blog that “I am trying to better myself and to treat others like I want to be treated”. Is that how you want to be treated? To have foreigners come to your town and tell you “go home” if you don’t like them harrassing and insulting you?

  9. Suzanne,

    I’m presuming you are the same ‘Suzanne’ I was chatting with on Elora West’s blog before my posts and some your responses to my posts were deleted and I was apparently blocked from adding comments.
    You know your actions and your cause is wrong when you label anyone who disagrees with you a “troll” and delete posts presenting facts unfavorable to your position in an attempt to hide your inappropriate behaviour and weaknesses in your arguments.
    If your cause was truly just and you truly believed in your cause you would not feel the need to attempt to stifle dissenting opinions or views. In fact, limiting feedback to only those who agree with you, while ignoring and/or blocking feedback critical of your cause robs you of the opportunity to recruit more people to your cause and only serves to alienate those who might be persuaded to support you.

  10. It is wonderful that someone is giving up their time and standing up against the unlimited tide of animal abuse and exploitation.

    I don’t care whether it is dolphin, cattle, pigs or domestic animals … I wish that every species would have some guardians to defend and protect them and Japan is long overdue addressing its record in this area.

    If it wants to join the first world, then it has to accept first world values. Its attitude towards animal welfare is worse than third world. At least the third world has the excuse of poverty and no other options. Japan is a wealthy, educated nation and it is time it grew up and cleaned up its act in this area.

    It amazes me that a small group of poisonous individuals are willing to invest all their time following the Wests and Sea Shepherd people around the internet and posting poison pen letters and name calling – stalking a 16 year old girl.

    I understand that some of them are paid by the Japanese whaling industry, some are disgruntled ex-members of Sea Shepherds who were chucked out by Paul Watson and others are just the usual “weak white man with younger submissive Japanese wife” trying to play the big hero for a racist culture that will never really accept or adopt them.

    Pathetic …

    If there are intelligent questions to ask about the video, they are firstly what was the history to events and secondly, in all fairness, what was the point of speaking to the Japanese in English?

    Apart from making $100,000s from abusing these beautiful animals, the Taiji slaughtermen have been quick to throw around threats, intimidation, physical violence and started the whole stupid camcorder game. What provoked the stand off in the first place?

    Sorry “Henry Marx”, a troll is a troll is a troll … and a poison pen is poison pen is poison pen. What nonsense you write.

    Tell us what you are doing productively with your lives apparent from defending unnecessary slaughter?

  11. Questionaire,

    You asked, “what was the point of speaking to the Japanese in English?” That is a very good question. What IS the point of foreigners going to Japan and speaking to Japanese people in English? A better question is: Why would a person be upset if someone translated what was said in English, on a video, into Japanese so average Japanese people could understand what was being said?
    You also asked, “What provoked the stand off in the first place?” The “stand off” began with a gaggle of foreign protesters travelling to a small town in Japan and demanding that the people of that town end a perfectly legal hunt, taking place in their coastal waters, because the protesters say so.
    It is interesting to note that your response to what you perceive of as a “poison pen letter”, is……………………..a poisen pen letter.
    It is also quite telling that you complain about what you consider to be internet “stalking”, on the one hand. Yet, you have no problem with foreiners going to a small town in Japan and following local people around harrassing them, on the other.
    It goes without saying that if a person does not wish for their views, comments or actions to be criticized; they should refrain from giving news interviews and posting blogs and videos on the internet.

  12. No, what provoked the stand off is 20 or 30 adult males in a developed nation allowing out a senseless and barbaric slaughter of sentient beings. A murderous act for the sake of a few bucks.

    These males, many of who can speak English so the message does go across, carry out the slaughter on the basis of a lie and an immoral position. That lie is that the dolphins are “pest” and eating “their” fish. Fish which aren’t theirs, fish they don’t actually need or eat, just fish they want to catch because they make more money out of them.

    The likes of the West are doing their best out of compassion for other living beings. The stalkers and trolls on the internet, many of whom are paid by the ICR or fuelled by nationalism, are defending it. Big difference.

    We all know Japan is eating the sea to death, its greed in this area is unstoppable. It is incapable of regulating itself. “Massively overfished” is what the WWF says, Japan buys legal and illegal, direct and indirect.

    If anyone in any other developed nation was to do on a daily basis to, say, 20 or 30 dogs or cats, cows or horse what these men do, that is driving them noisily into a quarry and stabbing at them madly until they died in their own blood, mothers and babies included, there would be an uproar about it and they would charged for their crimes cruelty.

    Do that to one cat or dog and you would get busted in the USA.

    In this one aspect, Japan is shaming itself as a throwback to a cruel and primitive era most other developed nations have evolved beyond, but using 20th Century tools to carry it out.

    And don’t forget, Japan developed its whaling industry in the 1930s not for the sake of meat but for the sake of selling the whale oil to the Brits and Nazis so that they could send their military to slaughter in China.

  13. For the anti-Sea Shepherd trolls,

    Emotional rhetoric aside, the fact is they have been hunting dolphins and whales in Taiji for at least 400 years. The hunt is legal and takes place in the coastal waters of Japan. No one has the right to go there and demand that the people of Taiji stop hunting dolphins simply because they don’t like it.

  14. Japan has no credibility whatsoever in Laws relating to animal welfare. It may as well have none as it has no inspectorate. This is an animal welfare issue. These are animals. Their slaughter is inhumane.

    Of course anyone has a right to step in where there is an injustice or environmental damage. It is both a moral imperative and environmental sense and has nothing to do with emotions.

    Beat and beheading women for making love might be “legal” in Saudi Arabia, it does not make it right. Dog fighting in Japan is still “traditional” and “legal” even though it is controlled by the Japanese Mafia overlords. I think you need to wake up and grow up to the state Japan really is.

    As common as it is to attempt to diminish the guttural disgust most people experience on witnessing the slaughter as “irrational” or “emotional” by the pro-whaling troll, Japan’s laughable adherence to regulations and laws in this area defeats any claims they make.

    I read the dolphin slaughters and their PR men have been outed yet again for inhumane slaughter. Their “new, improve” slaughtering system fails. It takes tens of minutes to an hour for the slaughters to happen and suffering animals are left bleeding on rocks in agony.

    The Dolphins are not owned by anyone. Wild dolphins are not property.

    The dolphins have been migrating along that route for 1,000s of years before human being intruded in their territory. They have the prior claim.

    Just because you have been carrying out a theft for 400 years does not establish your right to.

    This aspect of “ownership” of dolphins is the greatest fallacies that the Japanese Fishermen are attempting to foist on the rest of the world and I am sure at some point it will be challenged.

  15. Tell them to go back and use the tools and methods they were using 400 years ago and we might give them some leniency. If they don’t, then all they and their ministry spokesmen are doing is doing what they do best … fooling themselves and the electorate tax payers about bunka.

    As Americans, our predecessors were all cattle rustlers, slavers, native American killers and carried out a holocaust on the wild life of North America.

    Did that establish our right to?

    I am sorry, I can smell the bad smell from here and it is not the dolphin meat either.

  16. @For the Anti-Sea Shepherd Trolls

    “Of course anyone has a right to step in where there is an injustice or environmental damage.”

    You are advocating chaos and anarchy. What actions do you consider acceptable when a person ‘steps in’? The fishermen of Taiji feels that SS’s interference in their lives is an “injustice”. Do they have the right to “step in”? Many Japanese people feel the actions of the foreign protesters in Taiji is an “injustice”. Do they have the right to “step in”? I’ve also noticed that SS and their supporters are very selective about which animals and in which countries they choose to exercise their “moral imperative”. For instance, I have heard many protesters in Taiji say that keeping dolphins captive is wrong. Yet, none of them can find the time to go to the nearest SEA WORLD and “step in” for the dolphins there.

    “The Dolphins are not owned by anyone. Wild dolphins are not property.”

    So, according to your logic, no living creature in the oceans are owned by anyone, as well. Or does that only apply to dolphins?

    “Tell them to go back and use the tools and methods they were using 400 years ago and we might give them some leniency.”

    What exactly is that supposed to mean? Who is “we”??? And why do they have the moral and/or legal authority to dispense “leniency” to people in foreign countries???

  17. Asahi TV ran a news show about Taiji this past Saturday. Here is a clip from the show where they are interviewing Scott West. When asked why they (SS) were “bullying” the fishermen of Taiji he replied, “because of what they’re doing.” When pressed further by the reporter he replied, “it’s fun!” The reaction of people in Japan to SS and the cove guardians was extremely negative, to say the least. On one online forum there were 510 comments. Approx. 90% of the comments were against SS and the cove gaurdians. On another forum there were 268 comments. Approx. 100% of the comments were against SS and the cove guardians. While Mr. West and the other cove gaurdians may feel strongly about they’re cause. The manner in which they are promoting it is only serving to anger and alienate the Japanese people.


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