Hello, my name’s Jackie. I’m your average middle-aged working mum. Married to John for 18 years, 3 kids….I’ve never done anything out of the ordinary …I haven’t travelled outside of the UK in 20 years, happy to holiday in Wales… although I donate to charities I’ve never got off my butt and volunteered like so many do…..yep…. Mrs Average.
So why on the 5th Sept (our wedding anniversary) did John suddenly say “Want to go to Taiji and support Sea Shepherd?” and without hesitation did I reply “Do you really mean it? Oh yes please”. …I guess it’s quite a long answer so get comfortable and I’ll try to explain.
John has always loved the ocean and is happiest around water. They say opposites attract and it was definitely true in our case as I was never comfortable around water. I even hated putting my head under a running shower lol. But slowly, over the years, I changed.. I had to as it was either try or be left behind. The kids have all taken after their dad I’m pleased to say! I learned to sail, kayak and ultimately, last year, learned to dive. Thank you DiveLife for your infinite patience!!
Flicking TV channels about two years ago we stumbled across the series “Whale Wars” … there was a boat .. and an ocean….so we settled down to watch it, never dreaming of the impact it would have on our lives. By the end of the series we were Sea Shepherd (SSCS) supporters sea shepherd. But what could we do to help, it’s not like we could join the crew of the Steve Irwin.. So we donated, bought the t-shirts and spread the word. We started a beach tidy project …we talked of “doing” things later …when we retired….
Then the documentary “The Cove” was released. Our friends Kate & Mark gave a copy to John for his birthday. John and the kids watched it, but I didn’t have the guts to. They talked of nothing else after it… now what did I say earlier about trying or being left behind by my family... so I eventually sat down with a box of tissues, thinking I’d rather be at the dentists, and I watched it. I cried. If you haven’t seen The Cove I’ve attached a link to an abbreviated version on facebook THE COVE
Up until that moment I had been so jealous of friends and family who had swum with dolphins at these theme parks. I’d looked at the photos of them, all smiling. And by all I mean the dolphins too. It had never dawned on me that it was cruel and that the photos were a lie, the dolphins are not smiling; it’s just the shape of their face. They’re suffering.
And what about the captured dolphins that weren’t chosen to amuse us? They were killed in the most horrific way for their meat. Those who know me know I’ve lived my life with a disability, it’s been difficult, so knowing that these amazing animals are killed for their meat which contains high mercury levels and that mercury poisoning can result in several diseases, including Minamata, is beyond my comprehension. Minamata killed more than 600 people in Japan in the 50’s, more than 21,000 people filed claims with the government of which 3,000 became certified as having the disease. In 22 documented cases pregnant women who consumed contaminated fish showed mild or no symptoms, but gave birth to children with severe development disabilities.
Now I fast forward to our 18th wedding anniversary. We were spending the weekend with friends, Shirley and Andrew. We’d had a busy day and a nice meal and were settling down to chill out with a movie. I’d been talking about the week earlier when a pod of dolphins had come to play with us. They’d been racing our boat... and winning. We’ve seen them several times this year off Anglesey, but this was the closest they’d come to us, we could have touched them. I’ve attached a link to the video John and Martin took, John put it to music to drown out the squeals of delight from Jenny and I. Dolphins off the boat Jenny was one of the friends I referred to earlier who had swum with dolphins at a park (pre The Cove). She said being with them in the wild was a hundred times better. So when Shirley asked us to put “The Cove” on we didn’t hesitate… we welcome any opportunity to spread the word… but what was so much nicer about watching it this time was that we could say that, so far this season, no dolphins had been killed and that public awareness was to thank for it. And that was it…. that was the moment…the moment of complete clarity... there was something we could do, we could answer the SSCS call for people to go to Taiji, to be a presence, to report what we see to the world… yes, we could do that. And to make sure we didn’t change our minds the next day I posted it on face book.
I’ve used every bit of leave I have at work (sorry kids that means I’m working the October holiday and Christmas) but it still only gives us 7 or 8 days at Taiji as it’s a long journey. I’m scared as I know there have been death threats against any Sea Shepherd supporters going to Taiji. I don’t know how I’ll cope with the hostility from the fishermen / nationalists ( I mean hey, I’ve been known to cry when a salesman shouted at me at work lol) … most of all I don’t know how I’ll cope if I witness a slaughter.
There are a couple of things I do know… firstly this feels so right and secondly with John by my side I can do this.
I hope you will follow my blog and pass it on to other people who care about our oceans.
For the Oceans, with Sea Shepherd…our little bit…