It is the single largest gathering ever for Save Japan Dolphins and volunteers from around the world. On August 31 and September 1, the world will make a stand for the dolphins of Taiji, Japan.
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, the 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; others were sold into captivity to countries such as China, one of the largest purchasers of Taiji dolphins in the world.
Every year, on the first day of the scheduled hunt, Ric O'Barry and his team of members from Dolphin Project/Save Japan Dolphins, travel to Taiji on a peaceful mission to highlight the plight of Japan's dolphins. Dolphin advocates around the world also make a stand for cetaceans, either in their own cities or outside of Japanese embassies.
Japan Dolphins Day 2011, Detroit, Michigan.
This year, Japan Dolphins Day 2012 will be held on August 31 and September 1. Collectively, the event is currently on track to be the single largest ever for the dolphins of Taiji. Eighty cities representing 29 countries are hosting events to raise awareness of Taiji's forthcoming hunt. Dolphin lovers from Denmark, Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Norway, England, Brazil, Israel, Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada, Chile, the Netherlands, Ireland, Argentina and the USA—to name just a few, will join as one in spreading the message.
Sandy McElhaney, an Administrator for cetacean social media group Save Misty the Dolphin (SMTD), told Digital Journal that last year SMTD in conjunction with Earth Island Institute and Ric O'Barry's, Save Japan Dolphins, worked with 31 host cities. This year, that number "has more than doubled," McElhaney said.
SMTD's role the Administrator said, is to do what "we can to help support Save Japan Dolphins and to ensure that Japan Dolphins Day 2012 is the largest global event ever for the dolphins of Taiji." Of course, she added, the people doing the real work are the local event hosts," but "Save Misty the Dolphin is supporting the effort by building facebook events and by facilitating an international forum for the local hosts." The forum gives hosts a place to come together and share ideas, information, or request help with planning their events.
Save Japan Dolphins
The bloody waters of the cove after a dolphin slaughter.
McElhaney, who once worked as the Director of Prevention for the National Mental Health Association and authored The NMHA guide to establishing community-based prevention programs (National Mental Health Association; 1995), feels that a decade of helping local communities adopt researched and validated programs for the prevention of mental and emotional disorders among youth, sets her in good stead for the task.
McElhaney is noted for exerting a calming influence over newcomers to the cause. "Working in communities isn't easy," she said, so "I hope that the experience I gained over the years will be of some assistance to the local event hosts."
Finding and joining an event in your community is easy say organizers, just visit Japan Dolphins Day 2012 on Facebook. If there isn't an event close by, then Save Japan Dolphins urges people to organize their own. For more information on how to get started hosting an event, contact email@example.com.
According to Japan-based Elsa Nature Conservancy, between 2000 and 2010, 15,454 dolphins have been caught in the drive hunts off the coast of Taiji. This figure included 4,936 striped dolphin, 4,326 bottlenose dolphin, 1,450 spotted, 3,207 Risso's, 1,366 short-finned pilot whales, 83 false killer whales and 86 Pacific white-sided dolphins.
On Aug. 31/Sep. 1, 80 global cities will spread the word about what awaits the dolphins of Taiji. "It has been inspiring to watch all of these folks take on the planning of peaceful protests around the world," said McElhaney, "many have never done anything like this before, but they are fueled by extraordinary passion and a commitment to the dolphins."