Eco Watch/Delores Savas August 05, 2005 11:01 PM
Ben White, a long-time animal activist, lost his final battle to cancer at the age of 53 on July 30. White was no stranger to the area. He, along with activist Ric O'Barry, the former trainer of Flipper who turned activist, and others were responsible for stopping the capture of dolphins in Charlotte Harbor in 1989
That was the time when dolphin hunters could come into the area and capture dolphins for the dolphin parks. Pine Island was the meeting place for activists who came from all over the country.
Representatives from Sea Shepherd were also on the island. The activists called themselves the "The Dolphin Rescue Brigade." There were arrests. The process caught the attention of CNN and other media outlets that made it a national story.
Meetings were held with the islanders who were against the captures and others that favored the captures. Even representatives from the office of former Congressman Porter Goss were present along with government agencies.
With the help of Goss, the protest led to the banning of captures of dolphin in the area, and now throughout the United States.
Later in 1995, both men were in the area to protest and to bring attention to research by Mote Marine Laboratory and Sarasota Dolphin Research Program into wild dolphins in Sarasota Bay.
Said White, who turned into the champion of dolphins when he had an eye-to eye contact with a dolphin off Kona Coast decades ago, "I was suddenly aware that the entire world is conscious."
His activism did not begin or stop with protecting dolphins or freeing them from captivity. Through the years White was involved with defending animals and their habitat, many times resulting in his arrest.
He spoke against the pollutants being released into creeks. He sat in trees to protest logging activity, and tried to block the construction of large electrical transmission lines near sensitive areas. He worked with Sea Shepherd against seal-bashing in Canada. He was working with Sea Shepherd against the seal bashing season in Canada and was responsible for the sea turtle costumes at the WTO (World Trade Organization) protests. The costumes became the international emblem of opposition to the WTO.
Before his death White received the Guardian Achievement Award from In Defense of Animals, and a lifetime achievement award from a veterinarians organization for his work in saving animals.
O'Barry, who has visited the island in the past to present an anti-captivity film and lecture, made a promise to White to continue the fight against dolphin captures, assuring him that, "We will continue to show up and do what needs to be done to keep dolphins free and safe from harm."
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In honoring that promise there is going to be a "Japan Dolphin Day -Abolish the Slaughter." This protest on October 8 is going to be a world-wide protest in front of Japanese embassies to stop the barbaric yearly slaughter of dolphins that takes place in Taiji and several other Japanese coastal communities from October until April each year.
O'Barry said, " In Japan, more than 20,000 dolphins are slaughtered in the most brutal way imaginable every year with very little opposition from anyone. How is this possible in the year 2005? The reason that this practice continues in Japan is two-fold:
• The fishermen have very little opposition from the outside world.
• The Japanese people don't know that these crimes against nature are taking place. You can't object to something you don't know about."
What can you do? O'Barry offers the following ways you can become involved: "Show up on October 8. Bring yourself and a friend to the nearest Japanese embassy or consulate office on this date. We don't want your money. We are not asking you to go to Taiji. We know first-hand that showing up in Taiji is very expensive, and dangerous too. What we are asking you for is your good energy for just a few hours, just one day of the year. That's it.
One Voice, the group from France that is organizing the protest with Barry and his wife Helen, who is a member of One Voice, notes that "this will be an all-inclusive event. In other words, the protest will not take place under the umbrella of any one group."
For more information on the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji go to any world wide web search engines and enter, "Japanese dolphin massacres". It should move you act. To reach O'Barry for additional information, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make a promise to get involved.