Friday, September 2, 2016

Vicki Kiely and her 7-year-old activist daughter Imogen hold a meeting with the Mayor (Kazutaka Sangen) of Taiji, Japan

BREAKING: 7-Year-Old Activist Has Dialogue With Mayor of Taiji.

I am incredibly proud of her activism work and therefore when Sunset Recording artist Vicki Kiely had the unenviable task to leave her hometown on Monday this week to begin the protest of the start of the annual half-year dolphin hunting and capturing season in Taiji, Japan, it was a rude awakening that it will start up again. 

She did, however, already set up a meeting between their local mayor in Taiji, Kazutaka Sangen and with her lovely daughter, Imogen.

That meeting happened yesterday.

The imagery of it and the news about the meeting has spawned on a firestorm of press surrounding it.

Fighting for Animal Rights – G2 Student Travels to Japan To Oppose Dolphin Slaughter

Did you know that 1 September is Japan Dolphin Day? Far from a celebratory occasion, it marks the beginning of yet another season of dolphin hunting in Taiji, Japan. During this time, dolphin hunters and trainers will work together to capture and kill around 2,000 cetaceans in the Cove between the months September and April.

Here is what the Dolphin Project says on the matter:

Preparations are now underway in Taiji, Japan as the 2016-2017 dolphin hunting season is slated to commence next month, on or around September 1. Along with the brutal slaughter of multiple species of dolphins (quota has not yet been released), approximately 150 bottlenose dolphins have been sold to non-JAZA aquariums in Japan and overseas.

According to The Sankei Shimbun, 20 brokers participated in a lottery held in Taiji to determine purchase orders for wild-caught dolphins. The mammals will be chased, harassed, separated from family pods and captured from the wild for a life of performing, breeding and public display. The capture process is violent and traumatic, with many animals injured, some seriously.

This week, Grade 2 student Imogen has been in Japan acting as Mini Cover Monitor for Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, to oppose the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji. Her classmates in Grade 2 have written to the Mayor of Taiji to protest the capture and sale of hundreds of dolphins. They spent a long time creating a dolphin scroll for the Mayor, ensuring they were polite and respectful and that he would be able to read their messages.
Yesterday, on 1 September, Imogen delivered the messages to the Mayor’s Office and, to her surprise, was granted a meeting with Mayor Kazutaka Sangen in person. Together with her mother, Vicki Kiely, she was able to voice her and her classmates’ objections, and to urge the Mayor to abolish the town’s brutal practices. Vicki reflects, “He was very welcoming and smiled at Imogen, holding our hands and greeting us. The mayor then read the letter with the help of a translator. He was listening when he heard Imogen’s words, stating it was ‘mean and wrong’ to kill dolphins.” (Full story here).

Grade 2 are proud of their classmate’s passion and drive, and are so happy that their protests have been heard. They have been shown that if you truly put your mind and heart to something, you really can make a difference – even if begins as ripples in the ocean. They will be following the developments in Taiji closely over the next few months.

The Dolphin Project has been working hard to bring awareness to these inhumane practices, and urges people – everywhere – to speak up and stand together for the protection of these cetaceans. Captivity kills; you can help by not supporting dolphinariums. For more information, please visit the Dolphin Project website - See more at:

The Dolphin Project's Cara Sands writes that when 7-year-old Imogen packed a letter to bring with her to Taiji, Japan, she wasn’t even certain it would be read by the destined recipient. As Dolphin Project’s youngest Cove Monitor, this would mark her third trip to the area made famous by the Academy award-winning movie “The Cove,” helping the rest of the team share information on the dolphin hunts.
BREAKING: 7-Year-Old Activist Has Dialogue With Mayor of Taiji
And on Japan Dolphins Day – the first day of Taiji’s hunting season – we couldn’t have been happier to report it was a “blue cove day,” where no dolphins were captured or killed.

But the good news didn’t stop there.
Office of Mayor Kazutaka Sangen, of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture

The next stop was to visit the Mayor’s office, as Imogen’s primary mission was to deliver a letter to the one person she felt could put a permanent end to the dolphin slaughter. The team, escorted by the police, were greeted by two of the staff, and asked what their purpose was. They were told that Imogen wanted to give the mayor her letter and the letters from her classmates. They would be granted a five-minute meeting.

Within seconds, Imogen, along with her mother, Vicki Kiely and Daniela Moreno, both Veteran Dolphin Project Cove Monitors, were met by Mayor Kazutaka Sangen, of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture. What was supposed to be a five-minute meeting turned into a 20-minute unprecedented dialogue.

"He was very welcoming and smiled at Imogen, holding our hands and greeting us. The mayor then read the letter with the help of a translator. He was listening when he heard Imogen’s words, stating it was ‘mean and wrong’ to kill dolphins.” ~ Vicki Kiely
Letters from Imogen and her classmates
Imogen and her class of fellow students had ideas on how Taiji could make money from dolphins without hurting them.

"I told him he should tell the hunters to use the boats to watch dolphins and make people pay money to go on the boats.” ~ Imogen

The Mayor listened intently, then explained that this was a fishing town.

"It is not my responsibility or place to make a call to stop the hunting. It is the Japanese Government who give the permits and allows this practice. They [Taiji fishermen] are not breaking the law. This is their job and a means to make a living. All I can do is make sure that they don’t break the laws by killing or capturing dolphins not on the list, or ones that are endangered. Only then can I make sure they get punished.” ~ Mayor Kazutaka Sangen, of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture

To our surprise, he then got up and gave a presentation using a large map of Taiji.

Mayor Kazutaka Sangen’s plan to conserve dolphin populations

He explained they wanted to breed rare and endangered dolphins, native to this area. They would then be released back into the wild to help replenish their numbers. A net would be lifted and dropped as needed so the dolphins and whales could come and go as they please.

The Mayor took his time explaining his plan, hoping we understood that he wants more eco-tourism in Taiji.

"He mentioned to us how many people have this misconception of him and his town, and explained how the Taiji hunts are supported by the government. This is what makes them legal and there’s nothing he can do about that.” ~ Daniela Moreno

As the meeting came to a close, the Mayor asked Imogen how old she was, and told her she would be a famous movie star when she grew up. He was amazed this was her third time visiting Taiji.

"We explained we came with no malice and only with a good heart, that we wanted to improve relationships with the people of Taiji, so we could understand one another better.” ~ Vicki Kiely

The team was apprehensive at first, concerned about the resentment the people of Taiji had towards them, but were delighted at how welcoming the Mayor was.
Veteran Dolphin Project Cove Monitor Vicki Kiely and her daughter, Imogen watching the horizon for hunting boats

"The mayor was so nice, and he gave me a cool bag with a dolphin and a whale on it as a present. I am glad I met him.” ~ Imogen

"I could not be more proud of my daughter, and her will and determination to change this world for the better.” ~ Vicki Kiely

On behalf of Team Dolphin Project, we couldn’t agree more.

Imogen’s letter to Mayor Kazutaka Sangen, of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture
Imogen's letter to Mayor of Taiji
Credit: Vicki Kiely
Dolphin Project Cove Monitors are on the ground in Taiji throughout the entire killing season, live streaming, documenting and disseminating information to the rest of the world. We are the only organization to have been on the ground since 2003, and have revolutionized live streaming and broadcast from The Cove.

Kat Smith with the One Green Planet company posted the following about it today: This Badass 7-Year-Old Dolphin Activist Met With the Mayor of Taiji to Get Him to End the Hunts. This year marks the fourteenth consecutive year that Dolphin Project has been on the ground in Taiji, Japan and an international team of volunteers will keep watch over Taiji Cove during the annual dolphin drive hunt. The hunt begins on September 1st annually and spans until March of the following year. During those months, over a thousand dolphins are driven into the cove, where they’re brutally slaughtered for their meat. Simultaneously, some dolphins are allowed to live, but the fate of the “survivors” hardly better: they’re sentenced to a life of captivity in marine parks. Luckily, the first day of this year’s hunt was a “blue cove day,” a day where no cetaceans were killed. Among the Cove Monitors was one young activist who had a separate mission.

Seven-year-old Imogen is the youngest Cove Monitor, but this is her third year volunteering alongside her mother, Veteran Dolphin Project Cove Monitor, Vicki Kiely. In addition to the vigilant task of keeping watch over the cove during the slaughter, Imogen arrived in Japan with a plan to meet with the person she believed could help put an end to the slaughter: Mayor Kazutaka Sangen, of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture. She planned to deliver letters from her classmates that expressed their concern for all the dolphins affected by the actions of fishermen. The team of Imogen, her mother, and Daniela Moreno was escorted to the mayor’s office, where they were told that they would be granted a five-minute meeting with the mayor. But, after Mayor Sangen welcomed Imogen into his office, the five minutes turned into a 20-minute meeting.

According to Imogen’s mother and Veteran Dolphin Project Cove Monitor Vicki Kiely, who had accompanied her to the mayor’s office, “He was very welcoming and smiled at Imogen, holding our hands and greeting us. The mayor then read the letter with the help of a translator. He was listening when he heard Imogen’s words, stating it was ‘mean and wrong’ to kill dolphins.”
Badass 7-Year-Old Meets With the Mayor of Taiji
Along with her letter, she delivered letters from her classmates, who came up with ideas of how Taiji could make money without hurting dolphins. ”I told him he should tell the hunters to use the boats to watch dolphins and make people pay money to go on the boats,” Imogen said.
Badass 7-Year-Old Meets With the Mayor of Taiji
According to Vicki Kiely, “I could not be more proud of my daughter, and her will and determination to change this world for the better.”
Awesome 7-Year-Old Activist Meets With the Mayor of Taiji (PHOTOS)
The mayor took his time to listen to the words of Imogen and her classmates, then explained to her that because the Japanese government permits the dolphin slaughter, there was nothing he could do to put a stop to it. He did, however, give Imogen a presentation on his plan to help conserve the dolphin population in the cove, which would involve releasing captive-bred dolphins back into the waters. At the end of their meeting, he asked Imogen how old she was and was surprised to hear that she was an activist at such a young age. He said that she would grow up to be a movie star, but if you ask us, we hope she continues on the track of being an amazing and badass advocate for cetaceans.

To learn more about Dolphin Project and to keep up-to-date on the latest news from Taiji, visit their official website. All image source: Dolphin Project

I-TEAM: SAN FRANCISCO JOINS WORLDWIDE PROTESTS OF JAPAN'S 'DOLPHIN KILLING SEASON' Angry protests in San Francisco, London, and dozens of other cities around the world Thursday took place to mark the start of the "dolphin killing season" in Taiji, Japan.

This dolphin hunt has gone on for more than fifty years, but one man has made it his life's mission to stop it. As you might expect, pictures of the dolphin slaughter are tough to watch, but I will not show the worst of them

A noisy crowd marched on the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco, against the dolphin hunt now underway in Taiji Cove on the eastern coast of Japan. It runs for the next six months.

Demonstrators chanted, "Keep the dolphins wild and free!"

San Francisco joined dozens of other protests around the world, including one in London Thursday.

The man behind the protests is trying to link the dolphin slaughter to the summer Olympics in 2020, hosted by Japan.

"You cannot do the Olympics in Tokyo and continue to do the dolphin slaughter at the same time," said Ric O'Barry with "It's not going to happen."

O'Barry knows dolphins well. He caught and trained them in Florida for a seaaquarium and for the popular 1960s TV series "Flipper."

I-TEAM ARCHIVE STORY: Dan Noyes investigates Japanese whale and dolphin slaughter

But then, he had a change of heart. O'Barry tells me he got tired of lying to customers.

"You lie to the public every day about that when they question you, 'Well, why are they here, what do they, where did you get them from?'" he said. "You don't tell them about the extremely violent captures and the mortality rate."

His most famous work is "The Cove," an Oscar-winning documentary in 2009 that first exposed the Taiji dolphin hunt.

His film showed the fishermen's techniques for capturing dolphins and small whales.

In "The Cove" he says, "And they just bang on these poles with hammers and they create a wall of sound, which frightens the dolphins."

They corral the dolphins close to shore with nets, drag others by rope and skiff, and attack. The cove turns red with blood.

In recent years, activists have captured gripping scenes - fishermen using boat propellers to scare dolphins to their deaths, a pilot whale mother popping out of the water to watch her baby slowly suffocate in the nets, and a Risso dolphin beaching itself at O'Barry's feet trying to escape the fishermen.

The Taiji fishermen have begun hanging tarps to conceal the slaughter, but the cove still turns red.

"This is the cruelest, cruelest thing I've ever seen in my life," said O'Barry.

This year, the Japanese government is allowing the Taiji fishermen to take 1,820 various types of dolphins and small whales.

Akira Ichioka from the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco agreed to an interview earlier this week, but backed out citing a scheduling conflict.

In 2012, a consulate official told me the dolphin slaughter is part of Japan's food culture.

"We would appreciate if you paid more respect to what we eat, how we use the marine resources," said Michio Harada with the San Francisco Japanese Consulate during a November 2012 interview.

But O'Barry disagrees, "I'm sorry, it's not their food. Japanese people don't even eat this stuff anymore. It's being, the dolphin meat is being reduced to pig food, pet food, and fertilizer."

O'Barry argues that dolphin and whale meat is less and less popular in Japan because of high mercury levels.

He says the Taiji hunt is all about selling trained dolphins to aquariums and theme parks for more than $100,000 each. For example, a prized catch from two years ago is an albino dolphin that now performs under the name Angel.

The U.S. government has banned the importation of Taiji dolphins, but Ric O'Barry argues if you buy a ticket to any dolphin show, you're supporting cruelty.

A trade group says 64 percent of dolphins now in American aquariums or theme parks were born in captivity.

Here are resources to both sides of the issue:

Japan's Position on Whaling

Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project

Captive Cetacean Database

Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums

About Vicki's debut album:
Vicki Kiely (AAA, AC, Pop)

The Full Length Album with a bonus Track ‘Mercy’ to be officially released on August 2nd with Sunset Recordings

Vicki comes from a musical family, where singing and playing instruments was very much a part of her upbringing. From an Irish family; but born and raised in Canada; her culture was nurtured in her by her fathers love of singing and playing guitar to her from birth. Rebel songs to Rolling Stones to The Beatles were all on the usual set list.

Vicki had voice coaching and was part of her school choir from the get go. She picked up a guitar when she was 13. This was the start of her passion. Playing at school, and writing songs even back then. Her biggest regret is not concentrating as devotedly to perfecting her guitarmanship as she did her vocal skills.

She studied Drama and Theatre in College, but eventually realised her talent was in fact with her voice, and with her song writing. She formed a band with some friends and started gigging in different venues around Dublin at the age of 23. At 25 she joined a band with 4 of her guy friends, and they called themselves “The 42s” (a fun high energy punk band with a sense of humour!)

After this band split Vicki pursued a solo singer songwriter path for a while before moving to Hong Kong in 2006.

In Hong Kong Vicki started her own performing arts school called “Fusion Academy”. She started playing gigs again, and writing more songs, with the aim for an acoustic album. Her style is singer songwriter stuff that is rocky, edgy, and has a little flash of folk thrown in for soul!

Parallel to this singer songwriter work, Vicki is an animal rights activist, and a Cove Monitor for The Ric O’Barry Dolphin Project. She goes to Taiji, Japan, to document and share with the rest of the world, the slaughter and capture of 1000s of dolphins every year. She trains new Cove Monitors there, and also runs a very special program for children who want to speak out for and protect dolphins. These kids come to Japan with Vicki as under the Mini Cove Monitor Program and they learn how to monitor the cove, just like the adults do. Their voices ring the loudest and her work with the kids and Dolphin Project has become a major part of her life; so much so that she is writing her debut album for Dolphin Project and majority of the proceeds will go this organization that she is so deeply involved with, and believes so passionately in. Please find out more at

She created a Facebook page and a hashtag Peace to the Big Blue. This allows her to share her passion for the ocean, and all its creatures with her followers and friends alike. She will start to make tee shirts, bags, and jewelry for this future brand of hers, with proceeds also going to Dolphin Project. The shop will be available on this website, and other online stores to, like Ecojoia and Dolphin Project.

Vicki also works with animal rights in Thailand and Asia, setting the stage for a hopeful captivity free Asia one day. She works closely with an elephant camp in Khao Sok, giving them alternative ideas to the “Ride on Elephants” or “Elephant Trekking” tours, promoting more animal welfare friendly options, such as “Walking with the Elephants”, “Feed the Elephants” and “Shower the Elephants”. These are more up close and personal encounters with these amazing animals, and allow the elephants to be free of the horrendous seats they have to wear for trekking, and is a far more informative and educational way to experience these majestic beasts.

Vicki has now completed her debut album simply titled “Vicki Kiely” and recorded in Phuket with Gary Crause, at legend Studios.

The brand new 11 song CD is being released as follows:
1          Mercy
2          Enticement
3          Changing Tides
4          Choices
5          Plastic
6          Wild and Free
7          Mr. Player
8          Charlie Brown
9          Bangkok Princess
10        The Massacre at the Cove
11        Cats Oasis (Bonus Track)

The song “Mercy” has been worked via the ‘Songs For Freedom’ release to radio, retailers and to any outlet that plays music and videos. Therefore, the label has decided to release “Charlie Brown” as the next single with it accompanied by the beautiful “Enticement” track along with “Changing Tides” and then the brand new bonus track entitled “Cat’s Oasis”.



Dolphin Project will be on the ground in Taiji during the entire killing season, live streaming, blogging and disseminating information for the world to see. Your support has never been more crucial and is greatly appreciated.
Donate to Dolphin Project


Interested in joining us in Taiji? Learn about becoming a Dolphin Project Cove Monitor and submit your application, free of charge.

Ric O'Barry Dolphin Project Cove Monitors at The Cove


It’s fast, it’s simple and it’s effective. Take the Pledge now and share with your friends!
Take The Pledge to Not Visit a Dolphin Show!
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project is a non-profit charitable organization, dedicated to the welfare and protection of dolphins worldwide. Founded by Richard (Ric) O’Barry on Earth Day, April 22, 1970, the mission of the Dolphin Project is to end dolphin exploitation and slaughter, as dolphins are routinely captured, harassed, slaughtered and sold into captivity around the world – all in the name of profit.

Every year from approximately September 1 to March 1, a notoriously cruel hunt of some of the most sentient and sensitive creatures on the planet takes place in Taiji, Japan, made famous by the 2009 Academy award-winning movie “The Cove.” During this period, fisherman, or more appropriately, dolphin hunters, “drive” the mammals to their capture or deaths via means of physical violence and acoustic torture.

Dolphin Project is the only organization to have been on the ground in Taiji since 2003. We have revolutionized live streaming and broadcast throughout the entire season.
Dolphin Project works not only to halt these slaughters but also to rehabilitate captive dolphins, investigate and advocate for economic alternatives to dolphin slaughter exploitation and to put a permanent end to dolphin captivity.  This work has been chronicled in films such as, ‘A Fall From Freedom,’ the Oscar-winning documentary ‘The Cove,’ and in the Animal Planet mini-series, ‘Blood Dolphin$.’