As dolphin advocates from across the US get ready to host individual events for Japan Dolphins Day, they were all united thanks to the Academy Award-winning documentary, The Cove.
Ale Moralis Falconi is a "newbie" to dolphin activism, says Georgia, Atlanta co-host, Martha Brock. But after watching The Cove movie this summer, she immediately sprang into action, organizing an event protesting the captivity of the dolphins at the Georgia Aquarium.
Although "her first event was small," Brock added, Falconi's "next event (to protest the importation of wild-caught beluga whales) was a huge success" she said, making her "a natural," for co-hosting the 2012 Japan Dolphin's Day event in Atlanta.
Falconi will be joined by Brock and fellow activist Kaye Doyle, as they raise awareness for the plight of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. Each year in the small Japanese fishing community, dolphins are driven into a cove where they are either slaughtered for meat, or sold to captive marine facilities around the world. Last season (from September to March), Taiji killed 719 dolphins in the drives.
Although Falconi is a relative newcomer to the world of dolphin activism, Doyle and Brock are not. Doyle has long been an advocate for marine mammals everywhere and is the Education Coordinator at Harpseals.org, and a direct action volunteer for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Brock meanwhile, has been a dolphin lover since she first saw them in the wild off Sanibel Island in 1963. In the same year, she attended a dolphin show in St. Pete Beach, Florida, where she had the opportunity to feed a dolphin. "Even with all the clapping," Brock said, "I knew that something was not right." The dolphin was not happy she explained, "and I felt ashamed that others didn't notice."
Their Georgia event will be taking place outside of the Consulate General of Japan, 3438 Peachtree Road, Suite 850, Atlanta, GA on August 31, between noon and 2 PM. Further details are available on the Facebook event page.
Marianne Kocher said that when she first watched The Cove movie, she had no understanding of the background of the Taiji drives and no real interest in the ocean environment, or its mammals. "When it was over," Kocher said, "I sat on the couch for 2 hours, stunned, numbed and grieving." The feelings it evoked she said, "took over 2 weeks to subside."
The day after seeing the movie, Kocher went online and found Sea Shepherd supporters and tracked down Ric O'Barry's site, Save Japan Dolphins. Building on that, led her to a position as an on-shore volunteer for Sea Shepherd in Boston, Mass.
For the past two years during the Taiji hunt season Kocher said, she has "spent every day and night," following live reports of the hunt online. But she wanted to do more. Using her background with events for World Wide Anti-Whaling day, "I tossed my hat in the ring" Kocher said, and hosted a Japan Dolphins Day last year in Boston.
"We had a great crew" she said, and we "were able to deliver the petition that was created to the Consulate." The reception she said, "was a little chilly," but it didn't stop her though. This year, on August 31, she's planning to do it all again for Taiji's dolphins when she hosts her second Japan Dolphins Day event outside of the Japanese Consulate, 600 Atlantic Ave, between 6:30-8:30 PM.
"My life has truly been changed by that one movie, in the best ways possible," said the activist, and "if I can reach one person, and that person reaches someone else, the effort is working."
Joy Benson said she was watching the Academy Awards when she saw Ric O'Barry and Louie Psihoyos accept the award for Best Documentary. When the trailer for The Cove movie was played she said, "I could not believe my eyes."
One year later after receiving information from O'Barry's Save Japan Dolphins about awareness events happening worldwide, the Dallas resident was disappointed to learn that there wasn't an event scheduled for Dallas. So Benson created one.
Joy Benson at Japan Dolphins Day 2011.
Her event this year will be held at the busy Pegasus Plaza, 1500 Main Street, Dallas, TX. between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM. "Dolphins have always been a favorite of mine," said Benson, "even as a young child, one of my favorite stuffed animals was a dolphin."
Allison Aldrich said she "first learned of the dolphin hunt when The Cove came out in 2009" but did not watch it immediately. After seeing clips from the movie on TV and online, she watched a video of a group of activists, including actress Hayden Panettiere, on surf boards in Taiji, trying to help free some trapped dolphins. "They were harassed and sent back to shore," Aldrich said, "completely devastated."
When she did finally get to watch The Cove, Aldrich found herself "horrified and shocked," so when she spotted a post about events for Japan Dolphins Day 2012, "I decided to host an event on a St. Petersburg beach" in Florida, she said.
But not all of her inspiration came from the movie. Some surprisingly came from Japan itself. Aldrich found herself speaking to a Japanese lady who liked the Save Japan Dolphins shirt she was wearing.
"She told me she learned of the dolphin hunt when she lived in Japan and commented on how secretive it is and how the Japanese people do not approve of it," Aldrich said. The comment only "reinforced our fight to save the dolphins" she added, and to help "the Japanese people who are poisoned by the toxic meat."
The Pass-a-Grille Beach event at 800 Gulf Way, will be held Aug. 31 next to the Paradise Grille in St. Petersburg FL. between 4:00-6:30PM. As well as providing information about Japan's dolphins Aldrich says, there will be activities for kids and other activities such as "dolphin sand sculptures, and flower petals on the water."
These events are just a few of the 85 global peaceful rallies planned in cities around the world. All of them will coincide with a trip to Taiji by Ric O'Barry and his team of members from Dolphin Project/Save Japan Dolphins. It is an annual mission, but a peaceful one, designed to highlight the plight of Japan's dolphins in the forthcoming hunts.
Sandy McElhaney, an administrator with social media campaign Save Misty the Dolphin (SMTD), said, "It has been inspiring to watch all of these folks take on the planning of peaceful protests around the world. Many have never done anything like this before, but they are fueled by extraordinary passion and a commitment to the dolphins." SMTD is supporting the effort by building facebook events and by facilitating an international forum for the local hosts.
A list of all cities involved in Japan Dolphins Day 2012, is available on Facebook.