Save the Coast / Dolphin Project / The Sea of Japan "Nakhodka" Oil Spill Voluntary Act

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For Beloved Friends,

I drove my car from Osaka toward Mikuni-cho, Fukui-pref., Japan, to join the volunteer act against the "Nakhodka" Oil Spill Accident at the Sea of Japan. It was almost three days after the accident, and I could spend only two days (January 16 - 17, 1997) using my compensatory days off.

After arriving at the coast, the first thing I saw was the tanker Nakhodka showing its capsized rusty hull on the water. Although the state of the coast (Echizen Coast) was what TV had been reporting, the bows of Nakhodka was terribly mammoth and deadly near from the coast. The sight made me feel that my most precious thing had been broken by someone's carelessness. An accident indeed, but how can it be restored? These thoughts petrified me on the cold coast blackened by the heavy oil.

With full protection against heavy oil, I visited volunteer office at 7:30 A.M. on January 16. After registration, they asked me to go to Echizen-Matsushima Aquarium. Aquarium? I could not understand why I had to go there until being explained at the place. In short, because the dolphin pool was supplied with water directly from the Sea of Japan, small oil balls could come into the pool to form the oil film which gave strong damage to those dolphins. The water was transported from the deep place of the sea, so the oil balls were not big, only 1 - 3 mm in diameter. The continuous intrusion of small but an enormous number of oil balls could form rainbow-colored oil film. This noticed me that all living things were faced with the same situation under the sea. Because a seven month old baby dolphin was there, aquarium staffs were cautious about their transportation but the situation itself decided the stuffs to move them to Suma Aquarium, KOBE, on January 17 - 18. Thus, the volunteer work was to maintain the water condition for the dolphins' convenience until their departure to KOBE, the former disaster place in 1995.

We used oil absorption sheets (80x80 cm) attached to the tee sticks (90 and 200 cm) with clothes-pins. No less than ten volunteers were always walking around the pool side constantly for 24 hours to wipe out the oil film. We could not stop this job because new oil balls were always coming in with fresh water indispensable to dolphins. I did it from 8:00 - 20:00 on 16th and 8:00 - 12:30 on 17th. It was not an easy work to keep on walking just like Zen Meditation.

Fortunately, dolphins were there close to me! I could play with them during a short recess. Thus, I was probably happier than most volunteers struggled against the heavy oil itself at the shore. During my hard meditation, I imagined that dolphins made a big jump over the bar which sometimes I had to reach out to wipe the distant oil balls, but they didn't.

I knew that the key word of this accident or disaster was "ENVIRONMENT," different from that of KOBE Earthquake Disaster. But I could not think of the need of such voluntary acts for dolphins until I actually go there, even if I also knew that dolphins were there because I had visited Echizen-Matsushima Aquarium with my children a few years ago and we had enjoyed their fantastic show. Lack of Imagination! ENVIRONMENT is important. OK. For many people, however, the sea is equal to the food and scenery. It is really difficult to imagine that so many living things, not only cute dolphins but also sea urchins, abalones (we eat them in Japan), ... , and us human beings, absolutely depend on the same sea, the same harmonized ENVIRONMENT. In the daily life, everything seems to be controlled for our better life. We should understand, however, that it does not mean we can manipulate the delicate balance or harmony of nature. I hope we are not so satisfied and insensitive to know that.

I felt the same thing when we experienced the KOBE Earthquake Disaster. So many things and so precious things should be sacrificed only to let us know something important. Nevertheless, it gradually wane in our daily life.

Dolphins reminded me something important again. They gave a chance to start something, at least for me!

I appreciate the help and realization of my friends and family for my volunteer act.

重油除去ボランティア - 越前松島水族館/福井県三国町

[Japanese | English]
For Beloved Friends,