Surfers have a special place in their hearts for their fellow mammals of the sea, even more than the rest of us do, and so this was an irresistible offer.
James was one of a number of pro surfers and surfing celebs who conducted a paddle-out ceremony — a traditional Hawaiian memorial — in waters that would be bloodied the very next day as Japanese fishermen plied their trade.
The day of the paddle-out was peaceful, even though it was very emotional, James recalls. Permission had been granted for the event, which was billed not so much a protest as a memorial. And there was to be no killing in the killing bay that day under the agreement.
Tensions were high, however, James says; at one point he was confronted by a man who screamed into his face.
Then, after learning that a pod of about 30 pilot whales had been herded into the bay late that night, the organizers decided to return the next day.
That protest was broadcast around the world, showing actress Hayden Panettiere along with other angry and sobbing protesters in a violent sea-going confrontation.
James wasn’t present for the confrontational protest. He had been left behind because he was already under surveillance, and had been ever since coming to Japan.
James believes his hotel phone was tapped, his luggage searched, and he was pretty sure he was being followed.
Group flees, hides
After the second protest, the group fled, fearing they would be arrested. James recalls the group splitting up, hiding in stairwells and finally getting to the airport, where they could have easily been stopped but weren’t.
James came home shaken and not sure what, or if, he should talk or write about it. The Eco-Warrior theme had become all too real.