By Ric O’Barry
On April 13th, I had an absolute blast with the students of Christ the King Catholic School in Canada, hooked up via SKYPE with the MAST Academy in Miami, Florida. The schools co-hosted Sonar2Voice, with 800 students at both schools vowing to help dolphins and other marine life around the globe that are in danger.
I asked my host Mark Knowlton, a teacher at Christ the King School, how Sonar2Voice came about:
It started by having my class watch The Cove, and afterwards three students and I got together to plan the event, because we wanted to do something. A year-and-a-half later, Ric O’Barry came to our gym, and the rest is history!
Musical acts from Christ the King students along with the headliner band Hearts in Stereo entertained and completely energized the crowd. It was an amazing and unique experience to see both crowds from two different countries rockin’ out together as one big crowd for the cause.
Leah Lemieux (who volunteered to monitor the Cove in Taiji this past hunting season for Save Japan Dolphins and is the author of a book on the problems of captive dolphins titled Rekindling the Waters) spoke, telling the students that approximately 100 whales are killed each year in Canada, but their nation has no marine mammal protection laws, unlike the United States. Furthermore, Taiji dolphins had been imported to the Vancouver Aquarium in the past.
The atmosphere gained an even stronger international feel when Ric O’Barry came up to the microphone as our keynote speaker. Ric captivated the crowd with his message and fielded questions both from local students in the gymnasium in Georgetown and also from MAST Academy students through a SKYPE connection projected on a big screen.
Canada, Ric told the students, has the largest marine mammal kill in the world off its East Coast for harp seals. And Ric asked the MAST Academy students to help with the effort to free Lolita, the captive orca kept in the Miami Seaquarium, which is across the street from the MAST Academy. Environmentalists want to retire Lolita to a sea pen in her home waters where her family still exists in the wild in the Pacific Northwest.
The youth present for this event were all deeply moved. Never again will they buy a ticket to a dolphinarium, and all promised to take Ric’s message to others that need to know what is going on in Taiji. It was a truly educational experience that the students from both schools will not soon forget.
The hope is that although the dolphins can only communicate their cries in sonar, we can respond to their cries with our human voices – so let’s raise them and help get this senseless slaughter to end.
The video footage shot of the concert will be released on Youtube soon and will also be sent to political leaders and other schools around the world in an effort to try and encourage others to join their voices with ours in helping the dolphins and other marine species in danger. Sonar2Voice is already planning another event next year, and it promises to be even bigger.
For more information on how to start an event at your school or college visit www.sonar2voice.com and join the voice!
I want to add my personal thanks to the students and staff of Christ the King School and the MAST Academy. What a great day for me, and I hope they all got a lot out of it, too. Their young enthusiasm should be bottled and sent around the world!