Never Be Silent, Never Give Up

For the past four years, I have been traveling to Taiji, Japan in order to document the annual dolphin drives taking place there. As a Cove Monitor and Educator for Dolphin Project, I have always recognized the value in the powerful images captured on Dolphin Project’s Live Streams, as well as our informative written blogs. Not only do they provide a window into the unimaginable cruelty involved in both the slaughters and the captive selection process, they also serve to educate and motivate the world to take action.

I am also a high school marine biology teacher, which affords me the unique opportunity to spread awareness amongst young people about dolphins, dolphin captivity and the connection between the captive dolphin trade and the slaughters in Taiji. Long after returning home from each trip, I find myself needing to continue the work done on the ground, and commit to do whatever I can to help end the atrocities in this small town, of which the 2009 Academy award-winning movie “The Cove” was based on.

It is my belief that if we can lower the demand for captive dolphins, the drive hunts in Taiji would end, as they simply wouldn’t be profitable. Education = empowerment, and for me, the antidote to the poison of Taiji is education. As such, I have been creating educational presentations in order to teach kids about the realities of the captivity trade. Today’s kids are tomorrow’s activists.

Years ago, I began by just presenting to my own classes. Today, my presentations have grown from visiting other classes within my own school to traveling to other schools. I have visited classrooms from 3rd grade up to high school seniors and go to as many schools each year as my schedule allows. No matter what grade level, my message is always the same: don’t buy a ticket.

When I visit elementary schools, I do not speak of Taiji but simply show a video which compares and contrasts the life of a dolphin in captivity versus life in the wild. Most kids never think about what life is like for dolphins when the show is over. I help them see this “hidden reality” and by the end of the presentation, kids themselves reach the conclusion that NOT buying a ticket is the solution. I encourage them to share what they know with their family and friends, so they too can take the pledge to not buy a ticket to a dolphin show.

Kids get it.”

Never Be Silent, Never Give Up, Taji, Japan, The Cove, Cove Monitors, Dolphin Hunting, Kids, Education, SeaWorld, Don't Buy A Ticket

Dolphin Project Educator and Cove Monitor Cynthia Fernandez educating on the realities of dolphin captivity. Photo credit: Cynthia Fernandez / Dolphin Project

When I visit high schools, my presentations are more sophisticated, as I show the connection between the captive trade and the slaughters in Taiji. Most students are horrified by what they see, and they too come to the inevitable conclusion that stopping the captivity trade holds the key to ending the dolphin slaughters. Most importantly, they also promise to spread the word and inform others.

The other part of my presentations is to get students to share their thoughts by writing a message to Japan, asking them to end the slaughters. I have been extremely moved by the eloquence and compassion in these messages. The youth want a better world, and I believe they are sincere in wanting to right “wrongs.” They know that keeping dolphins in confinement is wrong, and killing them is wrong. Many take the pledge and also take the next step, asking what more they can do to help end the madness.

Nothing gives me more hope in seeing an end to the dolphin slaughters and an end to captivity than educating kids. It’s easy to do, because kids know what’s right. We just have to open their eyes and let them see for themselves.

I have faith in our youth, and I believe they will make positive changes. I have seen the hope in their expressions; the passion in their words and the commitment in their position to help dolphins. After the presentations, I receive many messages from kids I’ve visited, vowing never to go to a dolphin show. Many express they want to help dolphins remain free. I’ve had students accompany me to protests and join me in presenting to other students. Kids really do get it, and it all starts with education. I’m currently working on a new video and creating more interactive presentations. Together, we can help grow an educated society, one which sees the value in all life, and strives to protect the freedoms of others.

Take The Pledge to Not Visit a Dolphin Show!

Take the Pledge to Not Visit a Dolphin Show!

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About Cynthia Fernandez

I was raised to love and respect the ocean and all the animals that live in it. As a teacher, about five years ago, I was telling my students that I would be gone from school for a week as I was taking a trip to Baja California to see whales and dolphins. I was totally shocked by their responses. “Are you going to ride a dolphin?” That question was asked in each and every class. It was then that the light bulb went on in my head. These kids had been miseducated into thinking that dolphins were here for our entertainment. That very day, I decided to do my part in re-educating. My hope was to impart that no animals, including dolphins, were here to entertain us. I decided to focus on dolphins since dolphins and whales had always been my passion.

I had been an activist at a young age. When I found out about the tuna industry killing dolphins as they captured the fish, I made fliers and stood outside grocery stores, asking people not to buy tuna. I knew then, as a child, that killing dolphins was wrong. As an adult, after watching “The Cove," I was inspired to actively do my part to help end captivity and the dolphin slaughters in Taiii, Japan. Realizing that the captive trade is undeniably linked to the dolphin drives, I decided to create presentations for kids that show what amazing animals dolphins were and how they suffered in captivity. I created a three-part presentation for kids that focuses on the captivity issue, presenting information in such a way as to let them decide for themselves how they felt about captivity. As a Cove Monitor, I have traveled to Taiji for the past four years to see the capture process and slaughters first hand. This has served as an invaluable experience for my presentations, as I am able to show students my own photos and videos as well as share my stories from Taiji.

I’ve been amazed by the results. Kids totally get it. They simply need information presented to them and an opportunity to think about and discuss the issue. After presenting to my own students and hearing them talk about it, I decided to visit other schools. I’ve been doing presentations for five years now and have spoken to kids ranging from 3rd grade through seniors in high school.

I feel the presentations have been very successful. Many kids have told me they would never go to a dolphin show or swim with captive dolphins. Many have told me they wanted to help dolphins, and several have gotten actively involved and done amazing things. I’ve had students attend protests, present a petition to the Japanese Embassy and do presentations for younger students.

I strongly believe in the power of education. Kids are the ones who will say “no” to captivity and make positive changes. I encourage everyone to bring this issue into the classroom, and I am available to help anyone who wants to get involved. Together, we can bring an end to the captivity of dolphins and help bring an end to the dolphin slaughters in Taiji.

Educational Outreach / Dolphin Project Cove Monitor

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Educational Outreach / Dolphin Project Cove Monitor

Author: Cynthia Fernandez


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