exclusive interview: red letter day for dolphins

Blue Freedom: First off, would you tell our readers about the Red Letter Campaign?

Sandy: The dolphin hunt in Taiji causes the horrible deaths of 25,000 dolphins every year. Some are chosen for sale to the entertainment industry, where they live in small, unnatural conditions and live for only a part of their expected life span in the wild. The rest are cruelly killed for their meat, which is toxic and should not be eaten, or to rid the ocean of competition for fish by the fishermen.
My hope is that by flooding Japanese government offices with red envelopes, representing the slaughtered dolphins of Taiji, and expressing the sentiments of dolphin lovers everywhere, they will be persuaded to outlaw this barbaric hunting practice. I am also hoping for media attention that would draw the attention of and educate the people of Japan and other countries that engage in dolphin hunts, as well, and inspire them to bring pressure upon their own government.

Blue Freedom: What inspired you to start the Red Letter Campaign?
Sandy: I have especially loved dolphins since my childhood on the Gulf of Mexico. I aspired to be a whale or dolphin trainer at SeaWorld, thinking it would be the best job in the world, at the best place in the world. THEN, I BEGAN TO GET EDUCATED as to what is really involved in capturing, imprisoning and training these awesome creatures, who truly belong in the wild. I become increasingly horrified when I became more and more aware of the plight of dolphins, worldwide. I was aware of another red letter campaign that was used to effect another issue, and thought it would be something within my power to make happen for the dolphins.

Blue Freedom: How can someone volunteer to help?

Sandy: Whatever people can do to spread the word about the Red Letter Day for Dolphins campaign and get others committed and motivated to send envelopes would be great! I am recommending using electronic ways of sharing the project: the website, Facebook page, Twitter, email, and word of mouth. I have made fliers that can be downloaded and printed, that I hope people will pass out or hang up in venues where a lot of people might be interested, like beach areas, festivals, pet stores, marinas, scuba shops, marine supply stores, university marine biology programs, science teachers, school children, veterinary offices, etc.
And if anyone has “connections” to major media outlets, that would really get the word out on a much greater scale, and get the massive number of participants we need to really make and impact.
People could contact their local TV station for community announcements, at the end of June, that might inspire people to participate, by directing them to the website.
I also need a few knowledgeable people to be a spokesperson, if we do get a request from the media. That’s not something I feel able to do well.
If anyone knows a celebrity who might be interested in taking up the cause and promoting the Red Envelope Day, contact them!
On a different note, people could approach their local office supply places to donate red envelopes that they could pass out with fliers (or buy them yourself to pass out).
Show “The Cove” video to friends and then have a red envelope decorating party, stuffed with heartfelt words to the Japanese government.
Or, people could just buy bunches of envelopes and 98 cent stamps to send themselves. A pack of envelopes a month would add up by July.
If you don’t have a red envelope…color one!
But the bottom line is…people have to take the time and small expense of actually sending the letters right at the very beginning of July.

Blue Freedom: I know all the volunteers at Blue Freedom and many of our readers will be participating in this event, but after it’s over, what else can people do to help get the word out about the dolphin slaughter in Taiji?

Sandy: I suggest promoting “The Cove” documentary about the Taiji hunt on their social sites, or supporting any of the many dedicated organizations already involved in these kinds of causes.
Also, other countries doing smaller scale dolphin hunts could be targeted.
Laws need to be changed by grassroots movements that will make stricter laws regarding cruelty to animals, in the U.S. and other countries. People can always write their senators and congressmen about their opinions. Support the organizations that are already doing that.
Protests are good, boycotts are good, but education of the public is the key to changing it all.

Blue Freedom: It’s shocking to see how the Taiji dolphin drives and slaughter are so deeply connected to the captive marine mammal entertainment industry; what advise would you give to someone who is considering purchasing a ticket to a marine park?

Sandy: Dolphins are so fascinating and wonderful, and children and adults are excited about going to see them. What so few people realize are the sorrowful conditions the dolphins have suffered in being captured, taken from their families, transported to small aquariums around the world, forced to eat dead fish and perform to be fed, and die a very early death, all in the name of entertainment. Marine Parks have played a part in making millions of people love dolphins, but, if we truly love dolphins, we must now be willing to educate ourselves to the reality, and work to change the big money making ventures into places for rehab and release, were people can still watch and appreciate them, but not be party to keeping them for pure entertainment purposes.
If people do go to a park, I recommend watching, from a different perspective, what the animals are really experiencing.

Blue Freedom: Where can our readers go to get more information on the campaign?
Sandy: Everything you need to know is on the website!
The website can be found at http://savingdolphins.net/ , the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Red-Letter-Day-For-Dolphins/363157283701303 has lots of great ideas for participating, including creative ways to decorate the envelopes, suggestions for messages to send in Japanese, and ideas for involving more people. We need more creative ideas on how to get people involved. I also tweet dolphin facts and information almost daily at @DolphinFreedom. I even offer contests to help generate interest and further educate people. Help me keep the interest up until the mailing dates!

Blue Freedom: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Sandy: I’d just like to say, that by planning ahead, saving up for envelopes and postage, we can all send a number of envelopes and inspire others to do likewise. And, we need to be respectful in our messages. If all of us do as much as we can, it can turn into a gigantic wave of red envelopes, to help wash away this terrible practice! Thanks and dolphins hugs to all that do!
The target dates for mailing are July 1 and 2, and international postage is $.98 per legal sized envelope.

photo credits: Blue Freedom, Save Japan Dolphins, Red Letter Day for Dolphins