PERREAULT Magazine March 2014 - Page 52

Sea Shepherd was the first to introduce the Taiji dolphin hunts to the world in 2003 with covertly obtained video and now iconic still images of a blood red cove. Then in 2009, the issue blew up further with the amazing film, "The Cove," by Louis Phihoyos.

Sea Shepherd was also featured in the film, as it was their activists who cut the nets in 2003 and released the 15 dolphins who were being held. Sea Shepherd's Cove Guardians is a team of volunteer activists who sacrifice greatly to be on the ground for the entire six-month season for the last four seasons. The team is working round the clock to bring this issue and their footage/live stream to the world.

Melissa is at ground zero in the international trade and senseless slaughter of the dolphins in Taiji, Japan. This is her third season there. She spends six months a year on the front lines, with a team of devoted volunteers, documenting and filming the annual massacre.

The slaughter of 20,000 dolphins, porpoises, and small whales occurs in Japan each year.

Starting on September 1st and usually continuing through March of the next year, fishermen herd whole families of small cetaceans into a shallow bay and mercilessly stab and drown them to death.

six months a year

[Skype Interview - 02/12/14]

BP YOU HAVE BEEN IN TAIJI FOR SEVERAL MONTHS NOW. WHAT IS YOUR MOOD AT THE MOMENT? HOW DO YOU FEEL?

MS

It isn't one mood that describes being here, it just changes from day to day. Right now the season is almost ending, so it is a relief to see that it is coming to an end. I am also hopeful that one day this will end completely one day, and that I won’t have to come here anymore.

During the season, it is very emotional because not only are we seeing these sentient beings being treated so horribly and inhumanely, but they are taken into captivity and being slaughtered. Knowing that we are doing the most we can, we also feel it is not enough. Sometimes it can be disheartening.

BP

YOU SEE AND YOU HEAR SCENES THAT CAN BE VERY TRAUMATIZING. THE SCENES YOU WITNESS ARE BOTH VISUAL AND AUDITORY. HOW DO YOU AND YOUR TEAM PROCESS SUCH TRAUMA AND DEEP SADNESS?

MS

We see, we hear - sometimes we even smell - everything that’s happening. When we are ‘Live Streaming’, it is the hardest thing to put into words what we are witnessing. Sometimes emotionally we are trying to grasp what we are seeing and putting that into words for viewers at home, that are not able to be here. To inspire them to help is a difficult task. However I will continue to be here and to help as long as I can.

BP

YOU SPEND 6 MONTHS OF YOUR LIFE IN TAIJI EACH YEAR?

MS

Yes. Taiji found me. I didn’t find Taiji.

I chose to visit here just for two weeks three years ago, and it turned into three years. As soon as I arrived here the first time, I knew this is where I needed to be. I couldn’t see myself leaving and not returning. It’s very hard NOT to be here.

Melissa Sehgal

is SEA SHEPHERD'S

Senior Cove Guardian Leader

for the

Taiji Dolphins.

… because animals have souls too.

Perreault Magazine / March 2014 51