5 inspiring Women of the World who have not only seen the light themselves, but are now making it their mission to enlighten others!
I have always had a passion for the ocean as I was born in a town by the sea and went daily to the beach. As a kid I would clean up the beach, I could walk play and collect trash for hours. In 2005 I finally learned how to dive & received my first of many certifications. Diving is my biggest passion. The serenity of the ocean while diving, the feeling of being totally zen and being one with the life down there is very addictive. That's how I noticed and learned the state of our oceans, the decline of marine life, the (plastic) pollution, coral bleaching, and so on... First I became a shark advocate. Then I found out about the slaughter and capture of marine mammals. I wanted to do more, give back to nature to protect it's beauty and conserve the very complicated but fascinating ecosystem so the children of our children can enjoy it too.
Last year I joined Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as a volunteer, and due to my experience in fashion and marketing they asked me to be the Tabling & Merchandise coordinator for Sea Shepherd Belgium. Through the mutual Cove Guardian contacts I became a Facebook friend of Mandy Van Der Walt. She then asked me to become a member of the WOW clan. What a great idea! Never underestimate the power of women who come together for a cause. We have to fight and spread awareness of the horror these magnificent creatures go through. Before I learned how to dive, I was completely unaware of the slaughter or abuse in marine parks. I once swam with dolphins on the Bahamas captured in a lagoon. But when I visited Miami Seaquarium I sensed that something was off, I just could not put my finger on it. I felt a great sadness being there, even though I saw so many happy people. Once home I Googled about captured marine mammals and a whole new and sadder world opened for me. I still feel guilty for visiting a marine “amusement” park although I didn't know any better at the time. I guess that is one of the many reasons I fight so hard now to protect them. They have no voice. We are their voice! We have to teach all children the difference between good & greed. So that one day this madness will end.
Guess you could say I have loved animals since I was a tiny child. Both my parents and grandparents loved animals and throughout my childhood my mom was always rescuing animals. My husband and I currently rescue animals. We have 13 dogs, a donkey, a little horse and a kitty. I have always loved Orca's and Dolphins and I feel the movies have brought them even more to the attention of the public. I was inspired by the plight of Keiko and the heartfelt efforts to help him and many others. To try to make a difference. I remember the beautiful song Michael Jackson wrote for him "Will you be there?"
I had a dream of Tilikum in heaven and have not looked back in trying to help all the captives and abused animals. We are their voice and have to stand up for them. God only chooses his strongest warriors to help his magnificent creatures. It is a labor of profound love. I heard about WOW on-line and Sea Shepherd. I joined Women of the World United Against Taiji because I feel a deep connection with the animals and fellow advocates.
Becca Richards - During our last event Becca added 196 New Members to the WOW FB Group. Thank you!
I was looking through my news feed on Facebook, as I do most days. I stumbled upon a post that was linked to Women Of the World United Against Taiji. I was curious as to what this group was, so of course I clicked the link. This was my moment of awakening. I learned a lot from that first visit to the website, as I do with every visit. I was both delighted to learn that I could help effect a change to save our cetaceans, our oceans, and our planet and devastated by the current horrors being routinely committed to them. I knew that I needed to do whatever I could to help put an end to this horrific brutality and absolute destruction of families, species, oceans and our mother earth, so I sent a request to join this group.
Then began the annual drive season in Taiji. I cannot even begin to describe the pain and emotions that I felt daily as I began learning and watching these atrocities. Now I am motivated more than ever. My current contribution towards educating the world about the greed driven horrors that take place 6 months of every year in Taiji, is that I search everywhere for e-mail addresses for elementary school teachers. I then e-mail each teacher a short note about our educational brochures available to them to share with their students and I include a link to the brochures. I started doing this in the city that my children currently live in and then move out to the nearest city and continue.
I also phone my local Japanese embassy and the DC Japanese embassy and leave messages regarding my demanding they put an end to this horrific, senseless genocide and destruction of our planet and I am always sure to note that the world is watching Japan. Another way I help is by consistently sharing the WOW website and all live streams of drives by Sea Shepherd, Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project and Yoshi’s project. And of course, I tell everyone I speak with about these horrors. Then finally my proudest contribution is that I am Vegan and have been for 2.5 years. My body is not a tomb. I intend to continue to contribute in any way I can, until the murders of our cetaceans, oceans and planet have ended.
Christi Martin - During our last event Christi added 95 New Members to the WOW FB Group. Thank you!
Orcas came to me when I was 10 years old during the movie "Orca" their spirit spoke to me then & it has everyday since then. I would read about the Southern Residents & write reports on them for school. I helped raise awareness to free Keiko & followed his progress until his death.
In 2001 when I was 29 I saw an Orca up close for the first & only time up to now. It was at Sea World San Diego. I could not wait to see them. The second I walked into that stadium & saw them I said "whoa this is so bad." It was hard to leave them that day, but it was hard to see them in such an unnatural setting. I wasn't expecting that. But I knew that wasn't where they belonged. 8 days later 6 wild dolphins swam up to us while we were snorkeling in Kona. I felt like those dolphins were happier out in the ocean than the ones at Sea World. From they day on I let everyone know that I believed it was wrong for Orcas & dolphins to be in swimming pools.
In 2012, I stumbled across a story about Taiji & the dolphin slaughters & captures. I have not missed a daily report from either Sea Shepherd or Dolphin Project since. I tell at least one customer a day about Taiji & the horrors there.
Less than a year later I saw a picture of Narnia just after her capture laying on the grass in a sling with foam rubber over her eyes. I said I can not & will not live in a world that allowed that to happen to that innocent whale. That began my research on the Russian Orca populations.
In September 2014 the two Pilot Whales were captured in Taiji & the one had an emotional breakdown. They reached out & grabbed me & changed me. That's when I decided to become an onshore Sea Shepherd. Then a friend added me to the WOW FB Group & there I found a platform. A way to be heard. A way to share years of research I had collected & a passion for such an incredible animal with people that cared about these them as much as I did. The administrators of the group put together the Russian Awareness Project Team & the Russian Federation heard us.
I feel very blessed & lucky to be on this path. Orcas came to me as a child & asked for my help. I believe I'm doing exactly what I'm meant to be doing.
And I'm so thankful to WOW for giving me a way to do it.
Hedda E Lazo Lyman - During our last event Hedda added 87 New Members to the WOW FB Group. Thank you!
Forty-five years ago, my world was Sea World San Diego -- where my mother and auntie were employed at the infamous sea aquarium as pearl divers for the pearl exhibit. My mom and her big sister would wrap themselves in their white cotton ama gis and free dive for fat clams that they would collect in a floating barrel attached to their ankles. One year they made me my own mini ama gi and I got to swim in the deep, frigid pool. I was just 4-years-old when I was free to roam the park on my own. The staff knew me and my days were spent dodging the hot Southern California sun in the cool fountain show. It was dark and I enjoyed sitting in the front row to watch the rainbow water dance. If I was lucky, I might even feel the spray of the fountains. In between shows I’d gravitate to the dolphin and killer whale shows. Like the fountain, I preferred the front rows, where I could hope for a little splash or two.
Yet even as a child raised in that world, I knew what I saw was wrong. It was a freak show. This was where I first felt empathetic pangs for these magnificent creatures that deserve so much more than a chlorinated pool. I instinctively knew they felt joy and sadness as deeply as I do. I began to question all the resources humans put into all the animals in captivity. As I grew up to learn more about the terrible trade of sea life and how dolphins are collected in Taiji, my heart wrenched harder. How could we do this to our brethren of Earth? How could we be so cruel?
The bottom line is education is the only way to raise awareness. People who aren’t naturally empathetic need to learn the skill and perspective is the best way to teach it. Enlightened humans have a responsibility to help change the ways of our kind. Humans’ karmic circle will only be complete when our society can reject these cruel activities that oppress precious life -- when we have the intelligence to use our resources to perpetuate true knowledge and understanding. This is why I invited all of my girlfriends to join Women of the World United Against Taiji. If each of us speaks for these beautiful animals, they may just have a voice.
Japanese Island of Toshima makes Dolphins Official Citizens!
On Sept. 1st of this year the annual dolphin slaughter will take place in Taiji Cove, Japan. Japan is a nation where up to 20,000 dolphins are killed yearly. So a new development recently in Japan is wonderful news in stark contrast as to what usually goes on in Japan. On a small island 100 miles from Tokyo islanders, mostly fishermen, have declared resident dolphins to be citizens, fully protected while in the island's waters.
This tiny island is called Toshima Island. The fishermen there want to show the world how some Japanese revere and protect wild dolphins. A long time Japanese ally, Elsa Nature Conservancy, has pledged to help the Toshima Islanders educate Japan about the wonders of wild dolphins.
The Toshima Dolphin Project as it is known will expand knowledge of this unique island and the relationship between the people of the island and its 16 resident dolphins. The project will provide a vision that will inspire their fellow countrymen and bring to them an understanding of the importance of allowing dolphins to remain free and safe from hunters' blades.
This is a description of the Toshima Dolphin Project written by Sakae Hemmi of Elsa Nature Conservancy. "In 1995 a dolphin came to Toshima waters and remained. In 1998 the dolphin, named Koko, gave birth. The baby was called Piko. The mother and baby were so revered that they were registered as citizens of the island. Around 2010 several dolphins from Mikura island moved to Toshima and several have given birth. As of February 2012, a pod of 16 dolphins swims in the waters of Toshima."
The Dolphin Project was originally spearheaded by a Mr.Moriyama. Unfortunately the Mr. Moriyama, died in February of this year. But others have picked up the cause because they feel so strongly that this message must get out. Currently funds are urgently needed to finish the project website, send a video team to the island to film the dolphins and fishermen and to make a DVD for release in Japan. They also plan to hold a symposium in Tokyo on dolphins in Japanese waters.
But the main message that The Toshima Dolphin Project wants to portray was expressed by Sakae Hemmi as: "I think it important to have many people learn and experience that wild dolphins are animals that we can make friends with and live together. Toshima is a very important place to raise the Japanese people's consciousness to protect wild dolphins."
Hopefully with the efforts of these wonderful fishermen from Toshima Island there may soon come a day when all dolphins can live off the Japanese coast without threat of dying in such a cruel manner as currently takes place in Taiji Cove. (Source: www.whitewolfpack.com)
THERE IS A WAY~
New Book by Sharon Bull
So many of us want to see a change in the world. We tire of seeing unnecessary, barbaric slaughters of many different species of animals, largely through greed, power and status. Mindless decisions made by governments and businesses profiteering from the exploitation of the vulnerable and voiceless. We all want to help bring about these changes too, so that future generations can enjoy their life in a more compassionate, considerate environment. A planet where every species that is consequential to the web of life is respected, rather than persecuted, simply because they cannot speak out for themselves. Before we can help bring about a change in the world though, we have to exemplify that change and this isn’t as black and white as it may seem.
In September 2013 my vocation in life finally came to light and I set up as an inspirational speaker and writer not only sharing my experiences to help others overcome their own personal experiences, but speaking out on behalf of the voiceless and vulnerable. For thirty years I had been trying to find happiness in all the wrong places causing depression, anxiety, addiction and debt. I had listened to my ego far more than my heart, but yet in both body and soul I was always far more uplifted when the goals I set for myself, were in place to help make a difference for others.
EMILYS YOUTUBE VIDEO FROM PROTEST
Video with kind permission of Emily Lawrence
'There Is a Way' my first book was published two weeks ago on Amazon and is already receiving wonderful reviews! Available as a paperback, or kindle down load, writing this book has been the next step towards helping others and raising awareness to all the issues close to my heart.
It hasn't been easy to tell the story that travelled across three decades and then just as I turned my first half century culminated into the most life changing experiences, however, I believed the best place to start was from the beginning, which is exactly what I did.
While ever we have hope and love in our hearts there will always be a way, but the only way we will achieve change is through compassion and understanding. We need to remember that we are all connected to nature and wildlife, but equally, we are all connected to each other too.
Please find link below to the book for sample reading, reviews and purchasing information. Anyone living outside the UK please order from your country’s Amazon page.
Taiji's Link to Captivity
In October 2014 Rachel Barton made what I would call an extremely brave and difficult decision to travel to Taiji, where she would witness first-hand the merciless dolphin drives that take place there.
Rachel agreed to do this interview with me and relive her time spent as a Cove Guardian, in order to help raise more awareness about the senseless slaughters and the links it has with the captive market. The annual drives, which normally take place annually between September and March are executed by approximately 26 fishermen and trainers, who continue to describe what they do as tradition and culture.
All Rachel’s comments are her own views and not the views of Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians.
About four years ago whilst searching for information on the internet about her favourite pastime – Scuba diving, Rachel accidently stumbled on details about Taiji - the coastal town in Japan.
“I couldn’t believe what I was reading and felt compelled to do some research and find out more. It was then I discovered that I too had fallen for one of the biggest deceptions of all – the dolphin’s smile. I had swum with captive dolphins ten years previous in Cuba and at the time felt that this was okay, but reading about the activities in Taiji, this truly wasn’t the case!”
I find it almost unbearable to watch the video footage transmitted across social media sites by the Cove Guardians and Ric O Barry’s Dolphin Project, so to be on the front line during these slaughters and captures is a vision I cannot even comprehend. I asked Rachel what triggered her to fly out and be present by the cove to observe these sickening drives.
“I couldn’t get out of my head the unjust persecution of the migrating dolphins around Japan and knew I had to do something. Sitting behind my keyboard sending emails and signing petitions was no longer enough; these sentient beings deserved more from me. Dolphins are beautiful creatures and need to be enjoyed in the wild, free from harassment, slaughter and a life of captivity. I have been fortunate to spend time with wild dolphins in the red sea whilst scuba diving and there is nothing more magical when they choose to interact with you!”
During her eight day stay in Taiji a large family pod of Risso dolphins were callously driven into the cove and whilst most were brutally murdered, they chased a few juveniles back into the sea. Knowing the world is watching this seems to me a shallow attempt at showing kindness to the young ones, but traumatised, possibly injured and without their mothers, survival is almost impossible.
I asked Rachel how she felt during this drive.
"We are there to document the atrocity..."
“Each day you stand and watch the boats leave the harbour and then wait on tenterhooks, sometimes hours, to count them back in. Seeing the boats in formation gives you an indescribable sinking feeling, but once a pod is being driven into the cove, its action stations for the whole team. There is a job to do and for me that became my sole focus. We are there to document the atrocity and take as many photos as we can and it was my intention to do the best job that I could.
To see the dolphins enter the cove and know you are witnessing the last moments of their lives is heartbreaking, but the best service I could give them was to help ensure they had not lost their lives in vain.”
I understand people’s frustrations and anger when dolphins are netted in the cove waiting their fate. November 2nd 2014 according to the footage on social media, a pod of bottlenose dolphins were netted for 20 hours pictured swimming frantically, desperate and hungry, whilst the fishermen enjoyed a whaling festival in the town, even using their boats to take festival goers to view their catch. Comments such as ‘cut the nets’ are often posted on twitter and face book at these times. I asked Rachel why the Cove Guardians are unable to do this.
“Cove Guardians are there to ensure everyone knows about the horrific drives and captures in Taiji.. The authorities in Japan have a very clear message, if any one person within the group breaks the law, no one will be tolerated. We would then be back to square one with the truth hidden behind closed doors. The callousness shown by the fishermen is heart wrenching. They use their boats to push the dolphins where they want them, cut them with the motors, drag them with their fins and flukes and all this knowing the eyes of the world are watching. What would they do if no one was?”
“It’s not only about monitoring the drives, but also keeping an eye on the captives they have too. This is where the real money is being made and that’s what fuels the hunts. If there were no dolphinariums , there wouldn’t be any hunts.”
I asked Rachel what she would say to anyone planning a visit to a dolphinarium.
“Simple answer, don’t! Dolphins from drive hunts end up all over the world and purchasing tickets to see a show or swim with experience supports the Taiji fishermen. A dolphin that swims with you in these circumstances is a hungry one and has been starved into submission.
If like me you love dolphins then please heed Rachel’s words.
“Captivity can never give these creatures what they need to survive. They need space to swim properly, a family group to interact with and the chance to love life. If you want to see dolphins, the only place is in the sea, where they are in their natural environment.” Visit Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians and Ric O Barry's Dolphin Project for further information on how you can help. This Interview is brought to you by Sharon Bull and - A Compassionate Voice Campaign
Taiji Culture, Tradition or Greed?
Since 2003 Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians have been monitoring the brutal dolphin drives, which run annually from September until March. Their team and Ric O' Barrys Dolphin Project vigilantly post images and stream live footage across all social media sites, gaining hundreds and thousands of followers across all corners of the world. Including myself, we watch the horror unfold with sickening stomachs and a frustration at the Japanese government and Shinzo Abe for continuing to allow this senseless slaughter.
Each morning around 6.00am the fishermen will set sail to search for innocent family pods. Relentless and without compassion, the only saviour the dolphins have from the daily drives is inclement weather.
The Diary of Taiji in the eyes of the frustrated!
November 20th 2014
Seven bottle nosed dolphins stolen from the sea, who have endured watching their families slaughtered around them, who have been force fed by tubes and deprived of food whilst undergoing training, were hoisted by a crane and lowered into tiny cargo crates. Their estimated worth is one million dollars, however their plight is still not over. With just enough water to keep them alive they were ferried in trucks without care, or comfort, on a journey that could last for days. Where their destination we will probably never know, but one thing is for certain, they have been stolen from the sea to serve the captive industry. This brings to question the fishermen's continual tale of tradition and culture, because what we are witnessing is horrendously cruel drives, which seem to be fueled only by greed and profitability.
November 23rd 2014
After a long and tireless battle, a family pod of risso dolphins were callously driven to their fate and netted in the shallow waters of the cove. Tarps are pulled over to cover from the eyes of the world the torturous method in which these sentient beings lives are ended. Once this happens we know their death is imminent. This time though the fishermen have been dealt a trump card, a rare albino juvenile is fighting for its life with the others. The trainers are called and along with another member of the pod, the two are ripped from the open sea and dumped into the Taiji training pens. Three infants were shown no mercy either, as they were thrown back into the sea to perish.
This is not the first albino dolphin to have been captured this year. 'Angel' who languishes in the Taiji whale museum, has become a symbol for the dolphins since she was stolen from her Mother's side in January to serve the captive trade.
November 27th 2014
For two days bad weather has kept the fishermen's boats tied up, but in the middle of the night the latest albino to be held in their sea pens, was secretly taken away. Its capture seems to have drawn the attention of the world media once again, including their own - Japanese Times. Out of sight, out of mind perhaps, but one thing is for certain this dolphin is worth a lot of money and has been stolen to serve the captive trade.
November 28th 2014
Just hours after the albino dolphin has been hidden away from view, the fishermen set out on yet another drive. After a two hour desperate battle, a family pod of risso dolphins are once again driven into the cove frightened and confused. As another albino is witnessed fighting for its life with the fated group, it is hard to digest these fishermen could be delivered yet another prize captivity catch. Once the albino has been ruthlessly ejected from the sea, the tarps are pulled over and the fishermen commence driving their steel rods into the spines of the remaining sentient beings. This is the 16th pod of risso dolphins to be decimated this season and the third albino captured, one thing is certain in the eyes of the frustrated, this isn't tradition, but to serve the captive trade.
In a country renowned for its innovative technology and leading the way in this field through its expertise and sophistication, I call to question its need for outdated entertainment within the numerous dolphinariums and marine parks in Japan.
I also call to question why an alternative solution has not been addressed to ensure Taiji doesn't suffer, but where the town could lead the way and show the world, human beings and wild life can work together compassionately and profitably, without harm to the ocean, or to its incredible sea life.
For further information about the Taiji dolphin slaughter and how you can help raise awareness please visit Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians and the Dolphin Project and come back to WOWvsTaiji for updates!