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Earth Hour Header 2014
My I will if you will challenge for Earth Hour 2012
This year, I was asked to join a number of individuals proposing good will challenges to the public in return for an earth-friendly pledge as part of the WWF Earth Hour I Will If You Will Campaign.
The challenge I’ve chosen regards a subject close to my heart, and the hearts of many of my friends, co-workers and clients: both in and out of the sea.
If 1000 people pledge to buy dolphin safe products, I will join the Cove Guardians in Taiji, Japan in October promote awareness of the killing of dolphins inside the cove.
As a conservationist, my primary goal is to protect wildlife populations and uphold the global communities' respect for the lives and welfare of animals and their environment. As a public figure, my social responsibility is to make the world aware of issues poorly affecting animals.
And now, I need you to know about Taiji.
Every year in Japan, a controversial dolphin drive takes place. The hunt occurs in a stretch of sea inside the Wakayama Prefecture in a fishing village known as Taiji. Fishermen in “banger boats” patrol the waters, stalking entire pods of dolphins. Banging against metal rods attached to their boats below sea level, fishermen manipulate the dolphins’ sensitive sonar, frightening and tiring them through chase before herding the weakened and confused animals away from their usual route back out to sea. Rather, in an attempt to escape the walls of sound, the dolphins flee toward the quiet of the cove where fishermen erect nets, trapping the dolphins inside. From the shore, individuals representing marine mammal parks across the world select a percentage of dolphins for export into captivity at their respective venues. The dolphins not selected for life in captivity are slaughtered, one by one, and processed into meat product. At the end of each season, upward of one thousand dolphins can lose their lives.
The slaughters, which take place over a six-month period from September to March, were the subject of the Academy Award winning documentary The Cove, produced by the National Geographic’s Louie Psihoyos and starring former flipper trainer turned dolphin activist Ric O’Barry (Save Japan Dolphins, Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project). Images of the blue sea turned a bloody-red haunted millions of people around the world and engaged a plethora of high-profile celebrities including Oprah, Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller.
Marine mammal parks have suffered only small blows to their international reputations despite their documented connection and dependency on the hunts (and others like it) to provide new dolphins for enslavement, and for the continued generation of profit.
In protest and in an effort to create alternative industries, a number of marine organizations have cemented a presence at the Taiji cove, including the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Blue Voice, Save Japan Dolphins, Surfers for Cetaceans and Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project.
With the success of my I Will If You Will challenge, I will join these individuals as a Cove Guardian to study, document and distribute findings and footage from Taiji, provide additional awareness and offer a new presence in the process; that of Earth Hour. And you have the power to make a difference too - so take up my IWIWY challenge and only buy fish products that are certified dolphin safe.