Sunday 11 December 2016

Snub marine shows to help save dolphins, urges Thrones star Maisie Williams

Published 02/12/2016 | 09:41

Maisie Williams is in Japan campaigning for dolphins.
Maisie Williams is in Japan campaigning for dolphins.

Game Of Thrones star Maisie Williams has appealed to the public to stop buying tickets to marine shows - to help prevent the capture and killing of dolphins in Japan.

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"These animals travel the ocean. That's what they explore daily. No tank will be big enough. No tank will ever be deep enough, ever be exciting enough," she said from the small Japanese town of Taiji, whose dolphin hunt was depicted in Oscar-winning documentary The Cove.

Williams, 19, is the latest celebrity joining the cause to save dolphins. Others include Brian May of Queen, Sting and Daryl Hannah.

She hopes her influence, especially on social media, with 4 million followers on Instagram and 1.5 million on Twitter, will help the cause.

Ric O'Barry, the dolphin trainer for the Flipper TV series, started the protests against the Taiji dolphin kill. He starred in The Cove, which shows a pod of dolphins getting herded into an inlet and bludgeoned to death.

The animals that are killed and sold for meat are leftovers from the main purpose of the hunt - to sell the best-looking ones to aquariums and shows.

The hunters in Taiji and their supporters defend the custom as tradition, although eating dolphins is extremely rare in Japan. The Tokyo government also defends whaling as research.

Williams, the global ambassador for O'Barry's Dolphin Project campaign, said only a handful of Taiji fishermen benefit from the practice and many Japanese do not even know about Taiji.

"It's not an attack on Japan at all, or on Taiji, or the people of Taiji," she said. "I want to say, honestly, hand on heart, that this is not an attack on anyone in specific."

The Cove, released in 2009, was not widely shown in Japan, but it went online on Friday for free viewing limited to Japan, after the Dolphin Project rebought distribution rights.

Williams said she went to the cove earlier in the day, but there was no slaughter.

During her trip, her second time in Japan, she plans to go whale-watching in the Mikura Islands, south of Tokyo, where whales are protected and dolphins are often seen swimming in the wild.

"It was something that just struck a chord in my heart. And I'm a firm believer that, if there is something that you really want to stand up and fight for, then you should. And with everyone doing their own little bit for what they believe in, hopefully together we can make the world a better place."

AP

Press Association

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