As an outspoken animal rights activist who comes from the school of direct action, in your face confrontations, loud demonstrations at vivisectors homes, public shaming of fur wearers, organized sabotage of animal abusers activities, etc. I believe in obtaining animal liberation by any means necessary. When I first saw the academy award winning documentary THE COVE which chronicled the violent and traumatic kidnapping of thousands of dolphins/whales from their families in the wild to be trained as performing puppets at amusement parks around the globe with the leftover family members being brutally slaughtered for their their meat (which contain toxic levels of mercury and being sold as food in Japan) my blood boiled.
I was floored by the lengthshumans will go to in the name of entertainment and greed when it comes to marine life. HOW can these gentle sentient dolphins be forcibly kidnapped from their ocean home and sold into a life of enslavement so that people can watch them do tricks and swim with them at amusement parks believing that this is humane? HOW is it legalthat 20,000 dolphins and porpoises are killed in Japanese waters each year –stabbed mercilessly, often leaving family members swimming in their own pod’s blood for hours or days in nets? HOW is it ok that the dolphins and small whales captured in the Taiji through drive hunts are killed and the meat sold for human consumption that contain high levels of mercury and other contaminants being fed to the Japanese people with no regard for their health? HOW can this barbaric atrocity continue and where are the people demanding it stop immediately? How can such a brilliant, game changing film like “The Cove” bring international attention to the plight of these dolphins/whales and still have the murders continue to happen every year thereafter? Why isn’t someone doing something about this? And why can’t I do something to stop this? Then I remembered what Lily Tomlin so famously said,“ I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody. ” It was that day I booked my ticket to Japan.
However, the decision wasn’t an easy one. Here in America I knew was more than capable of taking care of raising hell for animals on my home turf. I know how to get media attention out to cover stunts and protests, I know how to sound bite the phrase that will make it into print, I know how to create a disturbance that turns heads and I love to create disruptions. Now that I had a plane ticket printed out what could I do to help save the dolphins and whales in Japan by flying to Taiji was a question that stayed unanswered in my mind. Japan is a country so far away, very much tied to traditions strongly supported by the government so how can I, one person, make some noise about this ? I researched what was being done in addition to signing petitions, writing letters to the Japanese government, boycotting swim with captive dolphin parks etc and found the Cove Guardians .Sea Shepherd has a ongoing presence of volunteers standing watch on site at the Cove. I immediately decided that I had to travel to Japan and stand in solidarity with the the Cove Guardians and lend my support and my voice to the plight of these gentle creatures. I leave in two weeks. I have had the same question asked to me by almost of all of my friends “how will you be able to stand there and see this happening without killing someone or at least cutting the nets?” . Given the bloody waters of The Cove, the images of baby dolphins being terrorized and stabbed to death, matriarchs of the family circling wildly in captivity trying to save her family, dolphins being wrestled into submission, and the cries of the dolphins and whales as they fight for their lives without any hope of peace this is a fair question. I am sure it will be the most challenging thing I have ever done. Being quiet and standing still isn’t my way. When I went to the now infamous pigeon shoots in Hegins, Pennsylvania and saw bird after bird being released and shot we stormed the field. We stalled the shoot over and over again grabbing as many birds as we could before getting arrested or outrunning the police. When hunting season arrives, we are out there in the woods clanging pots and loud music warning the animals that trouble is near, disruptive is the only world I know how to do. Documenting and standing silently will be a challenge for me. But its a challenge I am up for because we must be their voice.
From silence we gain nothing But as witnesses who bring back the truth via our own first hand accounts, live streaming, photographs and videos we have power. The Cove Guardians, led by a good friend of mine Melissa Sehgal, have infinite patience because its vital that the Japanese people and government understand we simply won’t leave until the killing stops. We will have more and more footage and accounts that we will make sure travel the globe bringing more awareness that evil exists in the waters of Taiji. We must expose the lengths that the Japanese Government and Fisheries are going to in order to cover up not only the slaughter of dolphins, but also the captive dolphin trade.We must see the big picture. We must keep our eye on the prize. And the prize will one day be ours. The Cove Guardians ongoing, unwavering presence are clearly paving a road to change. The tarps that conceal the murders, the police and security hired to stabd at the Cove etc are all a strong indication that Cove Guardian presence is being effective in their efforts to document what goes on in Taiji, and shows just how terrified both the Fisheries Union and associated marine parks are that the world will know the shame of Taiji.
Upon arriving into Taiji I will need to pack one thing I am always low on, the one thing I don’t typically have, especially as a native New Yorker – Patience. And hold on to the one thing I always try to hold onto, faith. Faith that bearing witness to an atrocity and shouting it loudly from the rooftops will create a groundswell- a revolution where people will vow to stop supporting enslavement, shut down the amusement parks that steal and breed marine animals to entertain humans for money and demand change. Until then, we fight. And I will be as close to the fight as I can get. I will report back here on Global Grind often. The bloody heart crushing images that I saw in the movie THE COVE, that made me cover my eyes and cry will be in full living color in front of me, shielded only by some tarps and Japan’s shame. Japan, I will be all yours soon. And this time I will have both eyes open.