Dexter Cate's decision 

HOME Whale and Dolphin Travel
Vol. 007

Dexter Cate's decision

Date taken
May. 2016
(The "Fukuya-so" where Mr. Dexter stayed during his stay in Iki.)

We don't know much about Mr. Dexter London Cate except that he was a Greenpeace activist. He was 36 years old at the time of the Iki dolphin incident (1980), so if he were still alive, he would have turned 74 this year, but I heard that he died in a diving accident after the incident.
When Mr. Kate came to Iki for the last time, it seems that he stayed at the "Fukuya-so" of Iki with his wife and child. I, too, at the time of the Iki's Tatsunoshima coverage, was told by Mr. M who is doing the guide of the ferry and sightseeing boat to Tatsunoshima that it was "Fukuya-so" that Ms. Kate stayed at.
After my visit to Tatsu no Shima, I took the opportunity to visit Fukuya-so. Unfortunately, however, it was the day of the island-wide field day, and the inn was completely empty.
One of my neighbors, who couldn't stand to see me like this, asked me, "Do you want me to go get him for you?  But I refused, thinking that I shouldn't interfere with the annual field day.


(The ferry terminal from Iki to Tatsunoshima / Sightseeing boat "KATSUMOTO" / Captain (above) and guide Mr. M)

By the way, in the case of the Tatsunoshima coverage, the application for coverage was made "to the person who knows the pattern of those days" through the Iki City Hall sightseeing section.
On the day of the interview, the captain of the sightseeing boat was scheduled to speak to us at the Katsumoto-cho fishing port, but as it was his grandson's field day, he hurriedly told us the following before the boat left for theTatsunoshima.

"In 1977 and 1978, we drove about 2,000 dolphins into the Tatsunoshima Beach and surrounded them with nets. When Kate, a member of the dolphin protection group, heard about it, she cut the nets in the middle of the night and let about 300 dolphins escape, which led to a court case.
But it wasn't a matter of a day or two that this thing exploded. It took years and years for it to finally explode.
Here in Katsumoto, we used to catch squid and yellowtail for a living. The dolphins came to eat them. That's why, after years and years of worrying about what to do and what not to do, we had no choice but to go after them in 1977 and 1978.
I didn't want to kill anyone, because my life depended on it.
Squid fishing costs tens of thousands of dollars a day in oil.Dolphins are so smart that we spend a lot of money on fuel to keep our fish collection lights on, but when it comes time to gather the squid, the dolphins come and eat them.
When that happens, the entire day is in the red - and not just for a year or two. It had been going on for years and years. I was so worried about it that I decided to kill them."
 ――――――――
"Sir, the boat to Tatsunoshima Island is about to depart. ......"
A female receptionist came to inform us that the ship was leaving. After this, a man named Mr. M, who was the ship's guide, would follow the captain to tell us stories and show us around the time.


(To get to Tatsunoshima, it takes just over 10 minutes to leave the Katsumoto fishing port in Iki..)

We arrived at Tatsunoshima, an uninhabited island in Iki that has been the subject of a mass slaughter of dolphins.
Mr. M, who works as a guide on the sightseeing boat, takes over the story from the captain and shows us around the island.
Mr. M was a junior high school student at the time of the incident, and was one of the people sent out to slaughter dolphins as a part-time worker. This was almost 40 years ago, and this part-time job was a high-paying one, paying Mr. M said.
"The dolphins are lined up on the beach and they shed tears.
When I asked him more about it, she told me that not only do they shed tears, but they also cry out loud.800 yen per hour.
"It made me so sad to hear that voice, like it was screaming, like it was begging for help."


(Bird's eye view of the Dragon Island)

(Mr. M. stood at the scene of the dolphin slaughter and told me what it was like back then.)
According to Mr. M, even now, schools of dolphins sometimes appear two to three miles offshore.
"When I asked him what they do, he replied, "We drive them away with bombs! We don't kill them, we chase them away," he replied.
I later found out that they were chasing them off with firecrackers, not bombs.
After this, the boat took us to the clear blue waters around Tatsunoshima, and then back to Katsumoto Fishing Port.

The photo above shows the spot where Mr. Cato launched his boat to try to free the dolphin.
The bottom photo shows the inlet into which the dolphin was driven.

Now, as we wrap up our coverage of Tatsu no Shima, I would like to conclude with a testimonial from the husband and wife of Fukuya-so about the personality of Dexter Kate. I was unable to meet the people of Fukuya-so myself, but I would like to quote from Hiroto Kawabata's book "Swimming with Dolphins, Eating Dolphins" (2010).

Dexter Kate was a tall white man with a hippie look with his hair pulled back in a bun. He had a soft demeanor and kind eyes. He did not like to eat meat and was happy to eat fish.
"He was an animal lover and a gentle man. He was popular with children. He often played with my son."
During Kate's last visit to Iki, the week before the incident, he spent his days doing nothing. He often played with the children in the neighborhood as he wandered along. The owner of the inn and his aunt even took a liking to him as someone who had come all this way because he loved animals.
One morning, I received a call from the fishing cooperative.
"What's going on with the Gaijin over there? Is he there?" I said, "Yes, He is here.
It was before breakfast. We thought he would be there.
However, when he went to the room, he found only his wife and child there. He couldn't understand her because of the language barrier, but she seemed to be in a hurry. In the meantime, the detectives and the fishermen's association officials arrived, and things became very difficult.
The night before, Kate had gone to Tatsuno Island by herself and cut the dolphin nets.

Kate realized that all her efforts had been in vain.
The only thing left to do was to use force. She waited for everyone to fall asleep and took a rubber boat to the Island of the Dragon, hoping to save at least the dolphins that were currently trapped there.
Although Kate had successfully cut the nets, she was unable to return to Katsumoto by rubber boat due to a spring storm. So Kate not only cut the nets and let the dolphins go, but also started dragging the dolphins back to the sea one by one.
At dawn, the fishermen returned to their dolphin processing operation to find Kate cutting the nets and dragging the dolphins from the beach back to the sea.
Kate was arrested for "obstruction of justice," and from this point on, "animal rights" were debated in court six times. However, Kate's wishes were ignored, and the Iki dolphin case ended with Kate's deportation.

Later on, the dolphins that were blamed for the decline in catches stopped coming to the area, but the catches never recovered. There must have been some damage caused by the dolphins, but more than that, the depletion of resources due to overfishing seemed to be the root of the problem.


(A view of the other side of the island, around Jagatani.Jagatani means "valley of snakes.)
In the eighth installment, we will travel to Amakusa, which is taking a different approach to this issue, to cover the relationship between southern bottlenose dolphins and humans.
In the ninth episode, we will follow a couple of southern bottlenose dolphins as they set out for the northern seas, and head to Notojima Island in Ishikawa Prefecture.