Dave Rastovich and friends paddle out in hopes of exposing the fishermen responsible for killing thousands of marine mammals each year
The water was blood red, the air bitter cold, and the new October day beheld an ominous, dreadful feeling. With only two days until Halloween, one might confuse this with the beginning of a fictitious children’s story, but the scary part is, it’s all true.
The sun had barely begun its ascent into the sky when Dave Rastovich finished zipping up his wetsuit. He was the first into the water, followed by his wife, Hannah, actresses Hayden Panettiere and Isabel Lucas, author Peter Heller, and fellow professional surfer Karina Petroni. The group paddled their boards towards the mouth of the Taiji Cove, located in the quaint fishing village of Taiji in southeast Japan.
This same group, along with numerous other celebrities, surfers, and ocean advocates, had made this exact trek less than 24-hours ago in a peaceful paddle-out ceremony to honor the 25,000 dolphins being killed each year by the fishermen in Taiji. The fishermen, secretive and deceitful in their ways, halted all fishing until the large group, along with the media attention it drew, subsided. Rastovich was still eagerly awaiting their next move.
These fishermen are known to use a tactic of driving the pods of dolphins or whales into a shallow cove, following them in with a large net and killing the helpless animals by stabbing them with knives and spears. It takes the defenseless animal six painful minutes to die.
In this case, the fishermen had rounded up nearly thirty pilot whales. Rastovich and his crew paddled through the bloodstained water and crossed the lethal netting. As the whales swam back and forth, frantically searching for an escape, Rastovich and his followers formed a traditional surfers’ memorial circle in a peaceful protest of the evil deeds of the fishermen.
Realizing their cover was blown, the fishermen began yelling at the surfers to leave, threatening them with propeller blades and wooden poles. “Even though the fishermen used force to try and break us up,” explained Rastovich’s wife, Hannah, “we held our peaceful circle.”
Once the police showed up and began to get involved, the campaigners paddled in. As he returned to shore, Rastovich, co-founder of Surfers for Cetaceans, an organization attempting to increase the protection of marine mammals told reporters, “The reason we surfers were there was to share the water, stained with blood, at eye-level, with our ocean kin awaiting their execution. Despite the fishermen taking great pains to hide their acts of cruelty, we seized this as an opportunity to bring this travesty to the world’s attention.” Rastovich is currently working on his documentary, “Minds in the Water,” which follows him along a journey around the world promoting the protection of dolphins and whales.
Without a doubt, the events of October 29, 2007 at Taiji Cove left the six activists noticeably shaken. But, that day also raised global awareness of the guarded, inhumane practices of these fishermen found across the world. Hate to break it to ya boys, but that little secret? It’s out.
WANT TO JOIN THE CAUSE?
Join Jack Johnson, Kelly Slater, Ben Harper, Mick Fanning, Andy Irons, Taj Burrow and many other by becoming part of Rasta’s visual petition to save cetaceans. To make your contribution, visit www.visualpetition.com and follow the instructions to download one of the images available, take a picture of you holding the image, upload your photo back onto the website, and publish for everyone to see.
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