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article image'Canberra is a tough gig for dolphins' says activist Special

By Elizabeth Batt     Aug 13, 2012 in Environment
Canberra - The path of a dolphin activist is not always smooth, but having the courage to stand up for what you believe in takes guts. Just ask Katrina Seivers, an advocate facing adversity in Australia's capital city.
On Aug. 31, in Canberra, Australia, Seivers will make a stand for the dolphins of Taiji, Japan. In an attempt to raise awareness about the forthcoming dolphin drives for Japan Dolphins Day, she is not expecting too many warm fuzzies.
As the capital city of Australia, it would be easy to think that that Canberra is the perfect location for a rally. Or that it would garner plenty of support considering it hosts a Japanese Embassy. But Seivers is expecting her event to be one of the smallest.
"Canberra is a tough gig," she said, "landlocked and office-bound."
Canberra's focus may be on business, but for one day, Seivers is going to make it about the dolphins.
September 1 marks the official beginning of the dolphin drive hunting season in Taiji, Japan. As seen in the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove, the Taiji dolphin drive season which begins in September and ends in March, revolves around a small group of Japanese fishermen in the Wakayama Prefecture of Japan.
Using boats, these fishermen drive pods of dolphins into the cove and either slaughter them for meat, or sell a select few to captive marine facilities around the world. Last year, 719 dolphins were killed in the cove, while others were sold into captivity.
Striped dolphins slaughtered in Taiji s cove are transported to the butcher house.
Striped dolphins slaughtered in Taiji's cove are transported to the butcher house.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Seivers would like to see the drives halted, along with 86 other cities around the world (the number keeps on rising), but she faces a rough road. Already, the Australian has faced several derogatory statements about her event from people who don't understand why she's hosting it. Some of the comments have been brutal, but she won't let them stop her.
Seivers first interaction with dolphins came courtesy of a trip to SeaWorld on the Gold Coast of Queensland. After interacting with whales and dolphins in the wild however, she said, "I realized that what I saw that day at SeaWorld was not the way it is meant to be."
Being up close and personal with the marine mammals over the years, has left an indelible mark on the Aussie. "To watch them race in the wake of the boat brought tears to my eyes," Seivers said, and "even today, as an adult, the emotional power that these mammals have over me is incredible." Her connection with them was only cemented further, when she witnessed two infants in a pod. "The close bond they have with their mother is breathtaking," she added.
So on August 31, Seivers will host her peaceful event outside the Japanese Embassy, 112 Empire Circuit, Yarralumla, Canberra, between 4 PM and 5.30 PM. Fortunately she says, "The process of organizing this event has introduced me to many many wonderful people. I have a good friend, Jodi Hibberd who has jumped on board and a local wildlife warrior, Carly Wilson, who has been wonderful." Wilson's "knowledge and experience has been remarkable" said Seivers.
And the event has also gained the support of local Greens party member, Shane Rattenbury, who will attend and speak about the dolphin drives while he is there. During the rally, Seivers also hopes to present a signed flag to the Japanese Embassy, even though she is convinced that her rally won't attract too many people.
"I know it will be one of the smallest," she said, "but awareness has to start somewhere. If I can make just one person support this cause, or urge just one person NOT buy a ticket to SeaWorld, then I have made a good start."
Eighty-six international cities will be supporting Seivers from afar. It would be super if some local Canberrans would do the same. Not too many people can say they would stand with boldness and confidence in the face of adversity, for a cause that they believe in. But Katrina Seivers can.
To support Seivers in her event, visit the Japan Dolphins Day Event page for Canberra on Facebook. The rally will coincide with a peaceful mission to Taiji, by Ric O'Barry and his team from Dolphin Project/Save Japan Dolphins.
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