celebrities dolphins taiji
by Nell Alk
Categories: Animals, Causes
Tags: , .
Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

At 9:52 PM Eastern Time last night, the Associated Press announced breaking news that since then has been circulating the net like web-based wildfire.

Writes Russell Simmons in a letter addressed to Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. Ambassador to Japan:

“We, the undersigned, ask you to personally deliver this petition to President Barack Obama urging him to NOT sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) until Japan bans the slaughter and capture of dolphins in Taiji.”

Rightfully making headlines a lot of late, the tragedies taking place in Taiji on an almost daily basis have eyes fixated on Japan. From the crimson cove waters flooded with blood to the much talked about albino dolphin calf—a white wonder separated from his or her mother and confined for human amusement—there’s much too much going on not to pay attention. And likewise be livid.

When asked what inspired his passion surrounding the activities in Taiji, Simmons told Ecorazzi, “Hearing about the horrific dolphin slaughter from Simone, following her return from the cove.”

Now, with the heft of Simmons’ status, and the help of aforementioned animal rights activist and his assistant Simone Reyes, dozens of celebs are sitting up and taking note, expressing their abhorrence of the cruel practice (couched as tradition) by adding their signatures to Simmons’ persuasive petition.

A-listers who with their John Hancock have proven they want the hunt brought to an abrupt and permanent halt are Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston, Alicia Silverstone, Ellen DeGeneres, Emily Deschanel, Susan Sarandon, Olivia Munn, Jennifer Hudson, Kellan Lutz, Channing Tatum and many more.

So, how does it make the mogul feel to have Hollywood on his side? “I am grateful that my friends in the industry have joined me in giving a voice to the dolphins,” Simmons said. “Hopefully collectively we can end these senseless hunts for good.” Amen to that.

Of course, ever-reliable orgs and the heroes at their respective helms were included in the document, too. Think Ingrid Newkirk of PETA, Nathan Runkle of Mercy For Animals and Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary.

“At this point,” reads Simmons’ appeal, “we feel the only way to end these heinous crimes against dolphins migrating through Japan’s waters is to inject our position into the current conversation regarding the trade agreement.”

Writes the Def Jam founder, “We…are not using this petition to assert a position in regards to the TPP; rather we are underscoring that your influential voice in defense of the dolphins of Japan is instrumental in expressing to the White House the importance of making their slaughter and captive trade a key factor in the negotiations ahead.”

Indeed, the silver (and TV) screen signatory contains varied opinions pertaining to the pact, some unclear and others outspoken. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, for example, whose founder Captain Paul Watson is among the signees, has been vocal about the group’s position in regards to a congressional proposal to fast-track the legislation.

Illustrating the stark scene in Taiji—which has been playing out every year for nearly the past half century—Simmons’ diplomatic but firm missive states:

“Since the start of this Taiji drive hunt season on September 1, 2013, over 600 dolphins have been slaughtered, and over 149 were taken captive, slated to live lonely, degrading, psychosis-inducing lives analogous to enslavement at amusement parks, as chronicled in the film ‘Blackfish.’ The drive hunt and slaughter of 20,000 dolphins, porpoises and small whales that occurs throughout Japan each year is Japan’s shame. These barbaric drives, which began in 1969, must be stopped immediately.”

As savvy folks know, in addition to “Blackfish,” Ric O’Barry‘s Academy Award-winning documentary “The Cove” is also a must-see, chronicling Taiji’s brutal roundup and the lengths to which fishermen there will go to maintain as much opacity as possible.

Dolphin pods are culled and individuals scrutinized by aquatic park representatives seeking their next trick-turning star. Those dolphins who aren’t taken to be paraded for profit are harpooned, dying slow, painful, spasmodic deaths, destined for supermarket meat cases, where the highly toxic flesh will be mislabeled as a more popular, less mercury-laden species of fish.

Bear witness to the devastation at the killing cove for yourself, via Sea Shepherd’s live stream link. It isn’t fiction.

Simmons ends his polite but powerful plea with, “The world is looking to you, Ambassador Kennedy, and to our government to send a clear message to Japan that this atrocity must be banned NOW.”

We at Ecorazzi couldn’t agree more and will be standing by with bated breath, waiting for what happens next in this life-or-death dramatic saga. Here’s hoping…

About Nell Alk

Nell Alk is a writer, editor and activist. Originally from the Midwest but based in New York City since 2006, she loves the cosmopolitan lifestyle, plant-based cuisine and animal-free fashion. Beyond food and apparel, she’s an arts and entertainment enthusiast, as well as an all around avid vegan, with her finger perpetually on the pulse of this burgeoning scene. Apart from Ecorazzi, she’s written about culture, nightlife and other fun subjects for outlets like The Wall Street Journal, Soho House Magazine and Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Life blog. More on Nell and her journalistic and copywriting work here. You can also interact with her on Twitter and Instagram

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  • Nigel Miller

    Well said. Let’s hope Obama listens. Even The Japan Times has published an editorial calling for it to be stopped. Traditional my $$$.

    • zebedee

      what have i missed? Are these animals born in captivity? Are they restrained most of their lives? Fed antibiotics and growth hormones? I could go on. hypocritical comes to mind. hundreds of thousands of animals die awful deaths daily because we like the taste of their flesh, betrayed by their carers, betrayed by humans. We are no better than the japanese fishermen.

      • John May

        This is all about big money from the captive dolphin trade. Dolphins not chosen for captivity are brutally slaughtered as pests to tuna fishing. Few people eat the highly toxic dolphin meat, and it is often labeled and sold as tuna and pet food.

  • Magnus Petersson, Sweden

    Disgusting celebs who thinks that America should police the world. I will not shed a tear for any of these celebs when they are found dead with an elastic band and a syringe filled with heroine in their arm, that I can assure you of.

    • John May

      These are migratory dolphins, and DO NOT BELONG TO JAPAN, just like the whales slaughtered do not belong to Iceland or Norway. This is all about big money from the captive dolphin trade. Dolphins not chosen for captivity are brutally slaughtered as pests to tuna fishing. Few people eat the highly toxic dolphin meat, and it is often labeled and sold as tuna and pet food. That becomes all of our problem when exported.

      • Magnus Petersson, Sweden

        So none should ever be able to hunt migratory animals? What about fish then, or birds? As long as a certain animal resides in a certain country, it is officially under the laws of that country, who may decide to do whatever they want with it. Lets say a white-tail deer is in the USA, it belongs to the USA, and American hunters can shoot it, but if the horde walks over to Canada, then it’s suddenly under the laws of Canada, and may be shot by Canadian hunters. Whales swimming between national borders is really no different.

        I am glad that Norway is always so close to us here in Sweden, we can eat whale meat there whenever we want, I love it, especially served with lingonberry jam.

      • John May

        I have Scandinavian blood, and enjoy bragging to my friends about being part Viking. You do make a valid point about animals being in territorial waters as opposed to land. In the US, the law is very clear about the deer you mention being the property of who’s property it is shot on. Some species are protected and others arguably should be, and that is where this gets complicated for marine life. I’ll save my Whale Wars arguments for another time, when I’ve not ventured off point.