Back in 2012 I was invited by a friend to attend a protest against the hunting of dolphins in front of the Japanese Embassy in London.
As I have always loved dolphins and not being aware of what it was about, I went along with a pair of friends. This innocuous invitation changed my life forever.
Rewind a few decades and you would have found me fighting injustice to humans or animals, on the streets of my natal Paris. My first protest was when I was 16 years old. I marched with the miners of North France to protest against the closures of the mines.
Perhaps it was in my blood? It is a well-known fact that the French enjoy a bit of a protest or a strike and once upon a time they even had a revolution with heads rolling, extreme protesting!
Since that first protest, many more followed ranging from against racism, fur, production of Foie Gras, bull fighting, fox hunting, badger culling, whaling etc.
My experience is that protests make waves of awareness, if not changing things at the top (governments), and educating people (or you would hope so). So when I realised what was going on with the dolphins in Japan, I thought protesting was a good thing but, a new approach might be tried to reach the dolphins.
Mermaids 4 Cetaceans was born on 7th September 2012, and with the help of social media, many people who believe in animal communication, animal healing, healing, conservation, spirituality, sentience of animals etc. joined in from all over the world to try to communicate with the dolphins to warn them about the dangers of the boats, and to Think Blue!
Many members of Mermaids 4 Cetaceans are also grass root activists and belong to other marine organisations.
Every year from 2012 up to now, we followed and reported on the events in the infamous cove, day after day for 6 months of the year, year after year.
During that time, we did visualisations and animal communication, animal healing to the dolphins trapped in the cove, spiritual work, encouraged people to “Think Blue” etc. and it became clear that something was blocking some of our efforts on the more mundane and materialistic plane.
Events from the cove are reported by many marine pages and activists all around the world during any given season. So far so good!
However, it became apparent that the language used to report events was aimed (consciously or not) at stirring feelings and emotions towards a very dark place.
People started to feel depressed, to feel powerless and angry.
Tempers flared up and bad juju was wished upon the Japanese people, even incitement to violence; death wishes too, aimed at Japanese people and other negative and harmful thoughts.
Nothing was done to prevent people from expressing their anger, racism, xenophobia and as time progressed during a season, the comments on pages became more virulent.
Although, following a season is heart-breaking as indeed one feels so powerless when dolphins are caught and killed or taken into captivity. And yes, anger and frustration will rise to the surface, negative emotions need to be released safely and certainly not on social media.
Thoughts can generate energies, and what we project generates an intent and a result. Basic quantum jumping.
People who let their darker side out in the open in written form, create walls of negative energies which sometimes spread like fire.
In-fighting between marine groups both online and on the ground (at protests) was unfortunately, something which had to be put up with during each hunting season. And of course, activists against each other instead of being united is something that has plagued the marine movement all over the world and not only concerning dolphins and whales.
Anyway, all the negativity encountered each season left many of us working harder on the spiritual plane and depleted us of energy, resulting in some of us teetering on the edge of losing our sanity and health in the process.
We then created a guide to detachment to help people with their emotional stability along with their feelings.
Compassionate fatigue is a real threat to health (emotional, physical and spiritual) of people fighting on behalf of the animals and, if one is not careful, serious health problems can arise.
Personally, I started to see some activists going down with serious health problems (and a few of them with heart problems…coincidence?), and some even did not make it and passed on. Continuing their missions from the other side of the veil. Some activists became depressed and were contemplating the unthinkable as they could not see the joy in life anymore; as bad news upon bad news besieged them in regards to the dolphins, but also other animals across the world.
It is very easy to feel powerless, useless, when following a season. Social media shares gory and pitiful images, heart breaking reports and before we know it, we are submerged in a sea of bloody pictures, anger, despair, fury, and anything we can think of. Meanwhile, the boats continue to go out, and nothing changed since 2009 when the documentary ‘The Cove’ appeared, telling the story of the hunting of dolphins in Taiji.
Before the documentary, the hunting of dolphins around Taiji started in 1969 (approximately) and no one was there reporting anything about the hunt.
I think it is great that we now know about Taiji and the hunting of dolphins. However, what we need to know is that the hunting of dolphins in Japan is not against their law, it is all legal.
Another aspect of the hunting of dolphins in Japan is the captivity of dolphins.
Again, it is not illegal to display dolphins in dolphinariums and aquariums around Japan.
Although JAZA (Japanese Associations of Zoos and Aquariums), has banned the purchase of dolphins coming from Taiji, this ban has had very little impact and dolphins continue to be sold in the Middle East and Far East and domestic markets in Japan (aquariums/dolphinariums not affiliated with JAZA) and other countries.
One cannot talk about Taiji without talking about activism, right?
This is the core of the whole movement, the Blue Cove days, the Red Cove days, the Black Cove days or Green cove days…all reported and documented by activists on the ground.
Having Japanese activists on the ground in Taiji is fundamental to the cause and has a twofold impact:
a) It educates their countrymen and women about what is happening on their own doorstep, the hunting of dolphins for food and fertilizer.
b) It also educates people about the captivity of cetaceans and seeing these creatures in dolphinariums and aquariums.
However, having Westerners present in and around Taiji may be what makes things a little more complicated.
Let’s give you a fictional example to see the other side of the proverbial coin.
Although, with my fictional example, we are going to look at animals that are not wild and are not used for entertainment. Nevertheless, they are sentient creatures and suffer tremendously too.
The fundamental principle of activism is however, identical.
As you know I am French, and I have been fighting against the production of Foie Gras since I was 18 years old. Having seen on a school trip to the Dordogne region, how the animals are tortured for a delicatessen was something that traumatized me for life.
Now imagine a bunch of Japanese people (or any nationalities for that matter but, since we are talking about Japan let’s stick to the Japanese), coming and taking photos in front of a few Foie Gras co-operative farms, for 6 months of the year.
Imagine all these people, who do not speak French, reporting in front of the co-operative, wearing their t-shirts from animal organisations, denouncing the production of Foie Gras on social media everywhere etc.
How do you think the local French Foie Gras farmers are going to react?
Knowing the French as I do, I can guarantee you that they will be very angry, they will try to intimidate the activists in as many ways as possible and not very gentle I must say.
The French will say that what they do is not illegal (and it is to my dismay; 37 years fighting to stop this vile industry) and they will continue doing what they are doing because in their mind, it is a tradition.
They will argue that the demand for such products is very strong and that the Japanese activists should look at their own country as they are eating animals such as whales and dolphins.
The Japanese activists will say that it is not the same to eat whales or dolphins as to eat foie Gras, that not many people eat them in Japan and that they do not torture geese/ducks to produce Foie Gras.
(As you can see, the same rhetoric that the Japanese said about the Westerners eating cows and pigs will be used in my fictional scenario).
Eventually, the French will pass a law to prevent activists going near the Foie Gras co-operatives and the local gendarmes will be on hand to harass and even arrest the Japanese activists for trespassing.
It rings a bell, doesn’t it?
But, more importantly, after pressure year in and year out, what will be the possible result of my fictional scenario?
The Japanese people will have gone to protest to the French Embassy in their country, they will have created awareness. All good!
May be in the process, some people would have ditched eating Foie Gras and would have not bought duvets and pillows made of geese/ducks feathers…very good!
But, millions of animals will continue to be tortured to produce foie Gras…because foie Gras is exported abroad. This is the harsh reality.
But, what the Japanese activists in my fictional scenario could do, is to make sure the products are not on sale in their country. There they have the power and the law of supply and demand on their side.
Certainly here in the UK, the late Roger Moore was successful in stopping the sale of Foie Gras in Selfridges in London and to mobilise people to join in in the fight. A small victory but nevertheless, a sign that people do have the power in their choice of food and can boycott a product such as Foie Gras on compassionate grounds.
Now, translate my fictional scenario to Taiji and you can perhaps sense what is needed to be done.
We activists from the West need to fight in our own backyards.
Education is the primarily tool in the activist toolbox, for people to understand that entertainment provided by sentient creatures is the most pernicious form of cruelty as it is made for people to think it comes from a place of love, it is not. It comes from a place of ego and exploitation for money and greed.
None of the dolphinariums are sanctuaries to rehabilitate marine life, although some tried to convince people that they are doing a great job in rescuing and rehabilitating animals.
Marine conservationism starts in the ocean, to protect species in their home against the threats they encounter. In the case of dolphins and whales, fishing nets, boats, poaching etc. This is where these multi-million businesses need to be if they were serious about conservation as they claim. Action would certainly speak louder than words in this instance.
There are plenty of dolphinariums in the world to protest in front of and lots of work to do to lobby our own governments to stop acquiring dolphins from the wild and the grotesque reproduction in captivity.
Recently, the French government has ruled against the reproduction of cetaceans in captivity. French activists have been putting pressure for years and certainly these results are encouraging.
Here it was not my fictional Japanese activists who made headway with the French government, but the French activists themselves…and I am convinced that the same can apply with the Japanese activists in their fight against the captivity of cetaceans in Japan.
We can support our fellow Japanese activists in their fight and share on social media what is happening in their country with their protests, marches etc. Solidarity, as we are all interconnected J
Now coming to the most soul searching part of this letter.
I never thought after all these years protesting, standing in front of the Japanese Embassy that I would come to the conclusion that this form of activism has had very little if not, no impact at all on the Japanese government.
More often than not, there are economic implications between the country targeted and our own country.
Here the UK government raised its opposition against the hunting of dolphins and whales with little impact. No sanctions, no talks at all with Japan concerning this, as far as I know.
If anything, marches through the streets of London are good to raise the awareness of the captivity of cetaceans, for tourists, and people to find out about this cruel practice. Marches are an effective form of protest and can indeed educate people. Mermaids 4 Cetaceans will certainly attend the march in London, on Japan Dolphins day (1st September).
But, protests in front of the Japanese Embassy on the other hand, have lost their power, as at least a minimum of 3 protests are taking place during a 6 months period. The Japanese staff at the Embassy are well aware of what is happening in Japan, after all activists have descended on the Embassy for at least 6 or 7 years continuously!
And again, it is worth remembering that there is nothing illegal in what they are doing so unless the law is changed in Japan, we are barking up the wrong tree!
During my five years fighting for the dolphins and trying to help, I have realised that the most difficult battle of all is against my own species…we are all interconnected but, it seems that some interconnections are not strong and the awakening of our species as the custodians of this planet is still in the making.
The fundamental principle of recognising animals as sentient beings is an alien concept to many humans and their leaders in countries all over the world. Until humans realise that what they do to animals they do it to themselves, we will always have battles to fight.
Besides, I came to realise that there are around 300.000 dolphins killed by fishing nets or bycatch each year. Around 100.000 cetaceans are killed each year too because of pollution.
Yet, activists are not in front of our respective fishery authorities to demand changes to the law, to prosecute the culprits of shoddy fishing practices and so on.
Some marine organisations lobby governments, but the practices continue. We need to fight on that front as the numbers of dolphins and other marine creatures killed by bycatch are enormous and totally heart-breaking.
And what about the problem of plastic ingestion in the oceans? All the marine life eating our plastic rubbish and suffering the horrendous consequences of our irresponsible attitude and behaviour…another even bigger battle we could take to our respective governments, supermarkets etc.
Also, I have come to the conclusion that spending 6 months of the year being heartbroken and looking every morning at what has happened in a fishing town in Japan is perhaps not the best way to fight on behalf of the dolphins.
It achieves very little on the ground, and people continue to visit dolphinariums and aquariums around the world.
Personally, I have decided that this season (after months of soul searching), I am going to work more with the dolphins around Taiji and elsewhere.
I am going back to my roots, of spiritual or sacred activism, to communicate with the dolphins without the chattering of the external world, to try to reach these complex and intelligent creatures to warn them about the boats and the dangers they will face.
Now that 2 other species of dolphins (namely rough toothed dolphins and melon headed whales) have been added on the list of species for the upcoming season, I think more than ever working on the animal communication side is essential in trying to reach these unfortunate creatures.
And with spiritual work, staying grounded and in a place of love and harmony is what is required to achieve goals.
Mermaids 4 Cetaceans will therefore not follow the season this year, and will concentrate on working with the dolphins on the telepathic level. Thinking Blue will be part of our daily routine too, but we will not be reporting the events from the cove.
We will post about the visualisations we will do and of course, we will encourage as many activists to join us in our collective efforts.
Together we can send intent and we can focus on the positive, helping the dolphins on the ethereal level. Hopefully our message will reach the dolphins themselves.
We know it has in the past.
We are not given up, we are continuing to fight for the dolphins, but in a new direction on the material plane and a step up on the spiritual plane.
Founder and spiritual marine Activist at Mermaids 4 Cetaceans.org