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Marine Life & Conservation

The Dolphin’s Cry

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Sometimes, the sound of dolphin cries wakes me in the night. That sound haunts me, and I have no doubt that it will remain with me until my dying day. But remaining with it is the knowledge that I diplomatically worked with, and lived amongst, local villagers in a foreign land to educate and potentially stop those dolphin cries.

I don’t remember the first time I saw the Academy Award winning documentary, The Cove, or the first time I heard of the annual dolphin slaughter that happens in that natural finger of water along the Japanese coastline. It seems to have simply always been known to me; to have always been a part of my soul.  But I never thought that I would go there; never thought I would witness the slaughter with my own eyes or hear the dolphin cries with my own ears. Yet in November 2010, I found myself standing on the rocky shore of the Cove in Taiji, Japan, gazing out over the water of that small bay, watching dolphins thrash in utter panic and then float still as their blood colored the Cove red.

My Call-to-Action came when the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society asked me to serve as their Cove Guardian Campaign Leader on the ground at the Cove in Taiji, Japan. My initial response was to turn down this offer because I was set in my life in Seattle, Washington State. I didn’t think it was a possibility for me to leave my full-time photography career, my husband, our animals and our life in general in order to spend four months in Asia. But I longed to accept this offer, to board a plane to Japan, to stand up for my beliefs, to live my passion for active marine conservation. It broke my heart to turn my back on my dream when it was finally being presented to me.

Life continued on as usual and each time I punched the time clock like a drone, the light in my soul was extinguished a bit more. It finally took some words of wisdom from a friend and co-worker to make me fully comprehend what I had just turned down. It’s not often, it’s extremely rare actually, that we get the chance to become what we have always dreamed of becoming. This was my chance. I accepted Sea Shepherd’s offer and found myself jobless, husbandless and on a plane destined for a country I had never thought twice about until that very moment. I was going to live in Japan for four months. I was going to work at the infamous Cove where I would actively participate in marine conservation. I had been chasing this dream since I was a tiny child and announced to my second grade teacher that I was going to save every dolphin and whale in the ocean, and here I was flying toward that dream. I suppose I should have been terrified, and while I was nervous and apprehensive, never once was I scared because I knew that this was what I was born for. I had no doubt then, and no doubt now, that I made the right decision when I left my ‘American Dream’ behind and ran, with my flags unfurled, toward my destiny.

dolphins-cry-2

Arriving in Japan was surreal and being at the Cove was something that words can never define. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by like-minded individuals who completely understood, admired and respected my decision to radically change my life in order to come watch dolphins die. But it was so much more than that; each and every one of us was standing, conscious and present, bearing witness to the tragedy that takes place in that beautiful corner of the earth, so that we could serve as the voice of the voiceless; a conduit so the world could hear the dolphin’s cry.  We were the only hope those sentient beings had for raising awareness towards the heartbreaking slaughter. Every September through March, volunteers flock to the Cove in the hopes of spreading the word and making a difference.

Since my departure from Japan in early 2011, I’ve joined Ric O’Barry and his organization, Save Japan Dolphins, and have founded my own group, Blue Ocean Foundation. Both of these groups put heavy stock into the education aspect of conservation and take a diplomatic approach to their presence at the Cove. Working with the local people, including the men who hunt the dolphins, is a major focus of time spent in Japan. In addition, speaking to schools in the Seattle area and hosting education-awareness events has become a way for me to spread the word during my time at home.

The Cove forever changed me. I sacrificed a great deal in order to pursue my passions, but I gained so much more and never once have I regretted the choice I made to stand on that beach. The slaughter is harrowing, haunting, disturbing, disgraceful and horribly, horribly tragic, but I, and the vast majority of people who have stood vigil at the Cove as well, feel that it would be even more tragic for those dolphins to die alone, with no one to remember them and no one to spread the word about their deaths.

Life is too precious to live the way someone else says you should. Never, ever be afraid to follow your dreams, to stand up for what you believe in and to be your true self.

Spread the word. Raise awareness. Speak out.

For more information about the Cove, watch the Academy Award winning documentary of the same title. You can also visit the websites for Save Japan Dolphins and Blue Ocean Foundation.

Blue Ocean Foundation: http://blueoceanfoundation.blogspot.com/

Save Japan Dolphins: http://www.savejapandolphins.org/

This article is from Liberty Miller. She is a photojournalist from Seattle, Washington State. Due to her love of marine conservation and her involvement in the Seattle music scene, she has created a way to join her two passions via organizing music festivals that benefit marine conservation. For more information, visit her website: http://libertyeliasmiller.weebly.com/

Marine Life & Conservation

Join us in supporting Dive Project Cornwall Crowdfunder Project

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Do you have a moment to help protect our oceans?

We’re on a mission and have partnered with DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL to help protect our oceans for future generations to cherish and enjoy.

DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL is a unique EDUCATION and EXPERIENCE initiative, reaching over 3,000 schools with their Ocean Education Programme, inspiring the next generation to protect our oceans for everyone to cherish and enjoy.

At the heart of the project is a competition for 400 lucky teenagers to win the EXPERIENCE of a lifetime. They will take the learning from the classroom straight to the shores of Porthkerris on a 6-day, life changing trip where they will learn to scuba dive and be taught the importance of marine conservation. They will become ‘Ocean Influencers’ for the future.

DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL needs our help.

Can you join us with a gift to DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL?

Whether it’s £5 or £50, a gift from you to the DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL Crowdfunder Project will help their vision of protecting our oceans through the innovative experience designed for school children.

Will you join us and pledge to support 400 lucky teenagers learn from and EXPERIENCE the ocean like never before and give them an EDUCATION they can use to inspire others, not forgetting the memories that will last a lifetime?

For more information, you can read the DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL story HERE.

Help us create the next generation of Ocean Influencers with a donation to DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL and ensure our oceans (and planet) are protected for the future.

WWW.CROWDFUNDER.CO.UK/P/DIVE-PROJECT-CORNWALL

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Marine Life & Conservation

Spring jellyfish blooms bring turtles to UK shores

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Marine Conservation Society’s wildlife sightings project asks beachgoers to share their discoveries and contribute to research

The Marine Conservation Society’s long-running wildlife sightings project focuses on two key species which arrive on UK shores: jellyfish and, as a result, turtles. Both species are vital in supporting ocean biodiversity and are indicators of climate change while being at risk from its impacts.

The charity is asking beach and seagoers to share when they spot either of these marine animals to support ongoing research.

During spring and summer, jellyfish arrive in the UK’s warming waters to feed on plankton blooms or, in fact, anything small enough to get caught. To that extent, jellyfish feed not only on plankton, but also the array of eggs and larvae of fish, crustaceans, starfish and molluscs which rely on plankton as a stage of reproduction.

With healthy fish stocks and rich biodiversity, jellyfish quickly become part of an effective food chain. Everything from tuna to turtles will feed on jellyfish of various sizes, so the population is well controlled. Supported by a rich and diverse ocean ecosystem, jellyfish link the microscopic world of plankton to larger marine animals and the ocean around them.

Jellyfish are especially appealing for marine turtles. Six of the world’s seven marine turtle species have been spotted in UK seas as a result of jellyfish blooms in spring and summer.

The largest sea turtle, and the most common in UK seas, is the leatherback which has a ‘vulnerable’ conservation status. Reporting sightings of these incredible creatures will support the Marine Conservation Society and others in understanding their movements, potential threats and how to better protect them.

Amy Pilsbury, Citizen Science Project Lead at the Marine Conservation Society, said:“For more than 17 years, beachgoers across the UK have been contributing to scientific research by sharing their wildlife sightings with us. It’s a key part of our work and plays a vital role in better understanding and protecting our ocean.”

In 2014, with partners from the University of Exeter, the Marine Conservation Society published the first paper from the survey data, confirming key information about UK jellyfish and including the first distribution maps of the surveyed species.

Since the 2014 paper, the wildlife sightings project has recorded notable events such as massive and extensive annual blooms of barrel jellyfish and several summers of Portuguese Man o’ War mass strandings.

The charity continues to run its wildlife sightings project to see what happens to the distribution and frequency of mass jellyfish blooms over time. The data will help to explore any links jellyfish blooms have with big-picture factors such as climate change.

Jellyfish can be spotted year-round in UK seas, but larger blooms are more likely to appear in spring, lasting through until autumn. Jellyfish sighting records from 2021 suggest that compass jellyfish are the most common around UK shores, making up 36% of reported sightings.

Jellyfish species Percentage of sightings reported
Compass jellyfish 36%
Moon jellyfish 17%
Lion’s mane jellyfish 15%
Barrel jellyfish 14%
Blue jellyfish 9%
Portuguese Man o’ War 6%
Mauve stinger 2%
By the wind sailor 1%

For more information on how to identify jellyfish and turtles, and to report a sighting, please visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website.

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