Image by Save the Dolphins
Article by Naoki Nomura
As the 2016-2017 school year commences, we welcome back students and teachers from a well-deserved summer break. Many are students brimming with excitement while others are already missing the summer vibes. Although the attitude towards the beginning of school may be different for each student, the belief to uphold the St. Mary’s core values of responsibility, honesty, respect, fairness, and compassion is still in the back of everyone’s minds. Service clubs incorporate these values and provide some CAS points for high schoolers taking the IB (International Baccalaureate) Diploma. This year a new service group called Save the Dolphins has been added to the list of clubs.
From Operation Smile to Amnesty International numerous clubs aim for the well-being of others; however, there has never been a St. Mary’s club that seeks to raise awareness of issues regarding dolphins. The controversy over dolphins in captivity being used for entertainment purposes has gathered a lot of public attention in the past few years. Documentaries like “The Cove” (a movie that exposes the truth behind the annual dolphin slaughter and capturing in Taiji, Japan) and “Blackfish” (a movie that shines light upon Sea World’s heartless treatment of captive animals) have made the topic of cruel dolphin captivity methods a part of everyday conversation. In the past, many people never took the time to question whether watching dolphins forced to flip and amuse audiences was right or wrong. However today, largely due to the advancing studies of dolphin intelligence and their behavior, many are second guessing the brutal aspects of dolphin shows(Dolphin Project). Recent studies show that dolphins rank as the second most intelligent animal, only trailing human beings. They are able to feel complex emotions such as fear, love, compassion, and are both socially and self-aware of themselves. A growing question today is whether it is right to cage such a highly intelligent and complex animal(End Captivity). The purpose of Save the Dolphins is to continue to spread information among the St. Mary’s community about the dark reality behind captive dolphins.
The Diplomat had an opportunity to meet and interview Ryo Sawa, one of the founders and president of Save the Dolphins about his views on dolphin captivity as well as his goals for this year. He responded,
We genuinely believe that this[dolphin captivity] can come to an end. Each year we see stricter regulations about where dolphins can be caught in the wild. Last year the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums announced that their facilities were not allowed to purchase dolphins caught in Taiji. However, there remain a few places in the world where people still want to capture and slaughter wild dolphins, and the organization[Ric O’barry’s Dolphin Project] we are funding is working to end it in those places. (Sawa, Ryo. “Save the Dolphins Interview.” 25 Aug. 2016.)
For the goals he has this year, he shared, “our hope in Save the Dolphins is that the St. Mary’s community will learn more about the issue and spread the word. We would like to go beyond the high school level and have everyone involved in this movement to end dolphin captivity. Although this is our first year we have big expectations and hope to make a change.”
One philosophy Save the Dolphins believes in is that individuals have tremendous power to correct wrongs and initiate change, and that information is power. The club is planning to hold fundraising activities at the SMIS Bingo, Carnival, and many other school related events. However the club feels that informing people of our concerns can make the most significant difference. Throughout the year the club will be handing out brochures and will be creating short videos and documentaries to raise awareness. If you see them around, feel free to ask questions and drop a generous donation for a great cause.
“Dolphin Project” Windpower, By. “About Us.” Ric OBarrys Dolphin Project RSS.N.p., n.d.
Web. 06 Sept. 2016. (https://dolphinproject.net/about-us/)
“End Captivity” WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Sept.2016.
Sawa, Ryo. “Save the Dolphins Interview.” 25 Aug. 2016.