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article imageActivist: 'We will be peaceful but loud' for Japan Dolphins Day Special

By Elizabeth Batt     Aug 18, 2012 in Environment
It may sound like an oxymoron, but Sueann Phillips-Beaty knows what she means, as do the hundreds of global dolphin advocates who will host peaceful rallies on Aug. 31 and Sep. 1 for Japan Dolphins Day 2012.
Phillips-Beaty may be a virgin when it comes to hosting a rally, but with a passion for marine mammals and a love for the oceans, she's a natural. That's why this year she's stepping up with fellow co-hosts Jacquie Matson and Kristen Connelly, to raise awareness for the dolphins of Taiji, Japan.
On September 1, the dolphin drive hunts that occur in the small fishing village are set to resume. As seen in the Academy Award-winning documentary, The Cove, the dolphin drive season which begins in September and may run through March, herds pods of dolphins towards a cove and either slaughters them for meat, or sells them to captive marine facilities around the world. Last year, over seven hundred dolphins were killed in the cove, and others were sold into captivity.
Like many who are stepping up for Taiji's dolphins, Phillips-Beaty came to the cause through The Cove movie, and like many who have also watched it, the former Greenpeace activist could not sit idly by.
"I could not believe that this was happening present day," Phillips-Beaty told Digital Journal, "and the fact that captivity plaid such a role? Just crazy."
The activist was more than ready to get her hands wet. So after attending the Los Angeles, Calif. event last year, this year she decided to host it. Phillips-Beaty has two friends planning to help her, newcomer Jacquie Matson, and established animal rights activist, Kristen Connelly.
Matson, said the dolphin advocate, "wanted to help after I showed her the documentary, and told her of my overwhelmed feelings." As for Connelly, Phillips-Beaty added, she "is a great friend to the animals and is more the pro of the group. She has been really helpful with networking our event. I couldn't do this without her."
Together the trio will hold their rally on Aug. 31st between 11:00AM-2:00PM, outside of the Consulate General Of Japan, 350 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, Calif. "We will have a table set up to show The Cove," said Phillips-Beaty "and a petition for people to sign against the slaughter." The petition will be delivered to the Consulate after the protest.
Event goers may also "take the pledge not to buy into captivity," the activist said, adding that "our message is simple," we will be "peaceful but loud."
Further details on attending the Los Angeles rally are available at the event page on Facebook.
Over 7,000 miles away in Hong Kong, Zoe Ng says that she "will be joining with a community of dolphin lovers, making a statement, as diplomatically as we can."
The activist, who acknowledges that "awareness (over Taiji dolphins) has increased in the last couple of years," will also host her event on August 31. It will be held outside the Japanese Consulate at One Exchange Square, 8 Connaught Road in Central, from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM.
For Ng, the event will especially important; one of her friends, Jess Chan, will actually leave for Taiji at the end of the month, where she will bear witness to the dolphin drives and report back on what she sees.
Ng said she is fortunate that her event has received some great support. A petition, which will be delivered to the Japanese Consulate, has already amassed over 630 signatures in little more than a week. A dedicated advocate for the dolphins, the activist explained that she "had no clue this was going" until a couple of years ago, and was "astounded that this brutality occurs."
Hong Kong is not big," Ng said, "but we hope to make a difference and be a part of the solution and not the problem." Ng's Facebook Event page has further details on the planned rally.
Candice Nayda will be hosting her Japan Dolphins Day in Adelaide, Australia. Nayda has been involved with dolphin conservation most of her life, and actually learned of the dolphin drives when she was six or seven years old.
By the age of 16, Nayda said, she became involved in a dolphin rescue organization which only rekindled her passion. It was through her work with the organization that she learned the dolphin drives were still ongoing. "When I saw some raw footage" the activist explained, it "absolutely shattered me."
Nayda was aware of The Cove movie the moment it came out, but was afraid to watch it. "I always put off seeing it" she said, "as I wasn't sure I was strong enough to handle it." But having seen it for the first time this year, "it spoke to me," said the activist, and "I felt a great calling to do something."
Adelaide doesn't have a Japanese embassy or consulate, so Nayda will be hosting her event on the steps of Parliament House, in Adelaide, at 12:30 PM, with some great support behind her. Sea Shepherd Adelaide has stepped up, the activist said, along with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. The South Australian Marine Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation where Nayda has volunteered since she was a teen, has also lent its support.
The cove in Taiji  Japan after a dolphin slaughter.
The cove in Taiji, Japan after a dolphin slaughter.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Nayda hopes that this will just be the first of many events for the Taiji dolphins. In fact, she already has a second event planned for the next day, Sep. 1.
"I am planning a Family Day for the Dolphins," the activist said, "to mark the actual the start of the hunt." Nayda hopes that people will join her for a picnic in the park, and a chance to learn about what occurs in Taiji.
Full details on the Adelaide event, are available at Nayda's Facebook Event page.
For some activists, the connection with dolphins runs much deeper. Nichola Sherlock suffered with bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts; it was the dolphins entering her dreams at night that kept them at bay, the activist said. So when she encountered the plight of Taiji's dolphins through the movie, The Cove, "I knew that I had to stand up and speak up for the voiceless," she said.
Sherlock will be hosting her Japan Dolphins Day event on August 31, at 2:00 PM, outside of the Japanese embassy in Dublin, Ireland.
"I cannot sit back, knowing that the hunt is happening, and not do anything about it," said the activist. "Without the dolphins I may not even be alive today, so I owe it to them to help. How can anyone hurt these creatures of pure love? I have to help in any way I can."
Sherlock says she's not sure if she will be there alone or not, but she doesn't care. The activist is planning to hand out fliers and explain what happens to the dolphins in Taiji, Japan. The day is open to anyone who can make it says Sherlock, but "even if I have to stand alone, I will do so." she said. Her Dublin event details are available via this Facebook Event page.
Native Kentuckian Paige Nelson discovered Taiji's dolphins not through The Cove movie, but through the film Dolphin Tale (2011). A film inspired by the true story of Winter, a bottlenose dolphin rescued in December 2005 off the Florida coast and taken in by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Winter lost her tail after becoming entangled with a rope attached to a crab trap and was fitted with a prosthetic one.
After conducting some research on Winter, Nelson said, "Somehow I found Save Misty the Dolphin group, and Red Letter Day for Dolphins." Both groups are social media campaigns that work to end the Taiji dolphin drives. "I sent letters to Japan immediately," explains the dolphin advocate, who spends her spare time signing petitions on a daily basis.
The activist's passion for cetaceans is obvious, she once signed 347 petitions in one day "for all animals," she said. She will harness this passion for the dolphins on August 31, when she hosts her Japan Dolphins Day at Thoroughbred Park, 121 Midland Ave. Lexington, KY, between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM.
"My message is truly 'never be silent -- never give up!' Nelson said, "dolphins, whales and sharks are my true loves."
Further detail's about the dolphin advocate's Lexington, Kentucky event, are available at this Facebook Event page.
There were more than 30 events held for Taiji dolphins last year. This year, global rallies for Japan Dolphins Day have tripled, with awareness campaigns planned in 91 cities around the world.
All of these events are designed to coincide with a trip to Taiji by Ric O'Barry and his team of members from Dolphin Project/Save Japan Dolphins.
They undertake this mission every year with a peaceful approach designed to highlight the plight of Japan's dolphins in the forthcoming hunts. To find an event near you, or to host an event of your own, visit Japan Dolphins Day 2012.
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