The International Marine Mammal Project was again a proud supporter of the volunteer program Fukushima Kids Dolphin Camp, held in Japan this past July.
The camp was established by several parents raising children in areas contaminated by the fallout of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. Hit by an earthquake and massive tsunami in March 2011, several of the nuclear power plant’s containment structures were severely damaged, leading to partial meltdowns of the reactor cores, with some radiation released into the atmosphere and continued radiation leaks into the ocean.
Because of the radioactive fallout, many children live in restricted conditions. For example, in order to go outside and play, they must put on special shoe coverings. Their view of nature is sadly constricted by the disaster.
The Fukushima Kids Dolphin Camp was developed to help address these problems. Using funds raised from crowd-funding sources and aided by support from IMMP and Global Green Grants, the camp brings a number of kids to the islands south of Tokyo, where the kids can roam free and enjoy a few days in nature without restraints.
The highlight of the trip is the chance to go snorkeling with a pod of friendly bottlenose dolphins. The people of the local Mikura Island, an overnight ferry ride from Tokyo, have made friends with these dolphins. The local fishermen protect them, and they have even been given names. Swimming with wild dolphins is a great way to get to know and appreciate these remarkable animals.
Tetsuo Nakahara, one of the volunteer coordinators of the Camp, told me: “This camp, which includes staying on the island and swimming with wild dolphins, is like a dream camp for children in Fukushima. Everybody was able to swim with wild dolphins during the camp. They saw how graceful these ocean friends are.”
This year, the Camp included 13 children, from ages 6 to 13 years old. They all dove in the ocean and encountered wild dolphins that inhabit the area.
IMMP is pleased to continue our support for the Camp, bringing nature and wild dolphins into the lives of young Japanese children.
Tetsuo says: “The smile all the children showed after the dolphin swimming is just a priceless experience.”
A big thank you to all our donors who helped IMMP support the 2018 Fukushima Kids Dolphin Camp!