Photo credit: notsogoodphotography/Creative Commons
"If the world finds out what goes on here, we'll be shut down."
So were the words of one Taiji fishermen to dolphin activist Ric O'Barry,
But therein lies the problem. The world does know about it... but it hasn't ended. Two years ago, I watched the Academy Award winning documentary The Cove. I didn't have a clue when I hit "play" what an impact this movie was going to have on me. It's changed my life forever and I am very happy about that.
Last year, I traveled twice to Taiji to see firsthand what was happening in that tiny cove to spark international outrage. Our goal was to document the slaughter, to have a record of the dolphins that were being killed, so we could remind people that just because the movie isn't in theaters anymore, doesn't mean it's over. I have met people that are shocked to learn that the slaughter continues to this day. When I ask them why they thought it had ended, they say, "I figured that when the movie came out, and won the Academy Award, that it would stop."
Since the movie came out, over 2.3 million people from 151 different countries have signed the petition asking the Japanese government to end the slaughter. Last September, fifty people from around the world joined Ric in Tokyo to present the petition to the government. The petition was accepted and those voices were heard. However, the dolphin hunt is set to begin again on September 1st.
And that brings me to why I am writing this story. We currently have approximately thirty people headed to Japan on September 1st. However, only a few of us can stay to monitor the cove and because we also have jobs and families and mortgages back home, we cannot stay the entire six month hunting season. So this is my plea for your help. We need volunteers who are willing to join our "Dolphin Project" crew and help us monitor the cove throughout the season. People who are willing to be on the front lines with us in this fight. People who are not afraid to face Private Space and his friends. We need activists.
I warn you, the trip will change you. Last year I witnessed two dolphin slaughters and I will never be the same. Since then, a piece of me will always be at the Cove. After witnessing the first slaughter -- something the movie can never prepare you to see in person -- I emailed Ric O'Barry and told him how hard it was to watch. This was his reply:
"Yes, it is a hard thing to witness. It will stay with you forever. Keep in mind that every action has a reaction. This experience will enable you to speak (with credibility) for these departed souls. They did not die in vain. You are now part of their life and they are part of your life. Because you were there for them they now have a voice through you."
At the end of the movie, Ric O'Barry is standing on the beach of the Cove and says, "I have to see this end in my lifetime." Ric is 72 years old. So I am calling on all the brave souls out there to join us in this fight. If you are able - will you do more than sign our petition, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter? Can you pack your bags, get on a plane and fight by our side for these innocent beings of the sea? Because Ric, myself, and especially the dolphins - could really use your help.
As Albert Einstein once said, "The world is a dangerous place. Not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."
If you are interested in joining Leilani and Ric O'Barry in this fight for the dolphins, please email Mary Jo Rice at Earth Island Institute, firstname.lastname@example.org. If you cannot travel to Taiji on September 1, Japan Dolphins Day celebrations will be happening at major cities all around the world, find your city here. For more information about Ric's work visit dolphinproject.org.
Read more about the Taiji dolphin hunt:
Taiji, Japan Holds Security Drill To Prep For Dolphin Hunt Activists
Leilani Munter's Shocking Footage From the Taiji Dolphin Slaughter
Cove Wins an Oscar, Makes an Activist Statement, Gets Cut Off