Update on Faith and Hope, the two Taiji dolphins.
Heather Hill, one of the Cove Monitors from last season, went back to Taiji to document and investigate what goes on during the summer. There she looked up Faith and Hope (originally nicknamed Sad and Lonely) in their new tank at the Taiji Whale Museum.
The Museum had been housing these two dolphins indoors, in the world’s smallest dolphin tank. A few months ago they were moved into a larger (though still shockingly small), outdoor tank at the Museum in response to efforts by Earth Island Institute and other groups to publicize their plight.
"Today I approached this tank, anxious to see how they were doing, and what happened next filled my heart with so much joy I thought it was going to burst. They immediately swam over to me, looked me in the eye, and then exploded with energy. They were flying high and swimming at speeds they’d not before been able to accomplish. This continued for several minutes. It was as if they remembered me, and were showing me how much happier they were now that they had sunlight and a bit of space to really pump their flukes. Ok, maybe they didn’t remember me, or the shiny gold ‘toy’ I once again held in my hand. Perhaps they would have reacted that way if any person had approached their tank just then, but either way it was the most amazing and heartwarming moment I’ve ever experienced. What made it even more amazing was that there were not two, but three extremely energetic dolphins.
Alongside Hope and Faith was the little striped dolphin I grew to love so much last season. It previously shared that tank with two bottlenose dolphins, and every day I checked on it, it was as lifeless as Hope and Faith had been. I wish I had the words to describe how transformed these three dolphins seem to be. They are still captive and living in a concrete tank, but their improvement is definitely something to feel good about”
Photos by Heather Hill