By MARY IAROCCI
SPECIAL TO THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: September 18, 2006)
YONKERS – Taffy Williams of Yonkers founded the New York Whale and Dolphin Action League because there was "something unique" about the creatures.
Yesterday, Williams organized the Festival and Swim to Save Dolphins, a 0.93-mile swim across the Hudson River ending at the Beczak Environmental Education Center on the Yonkers waterfront, "because America and all the world loves dolphins."
"They help us out there on the water, and they're in trouble. We have to help them," Williams said.
Williams is protesting "dolphin drives," a process in which fishermen go out on boats and use loud sounds of banging metal to frighten dolphins into a bay so that they can be captured or killed.
William Rossiter of the Cetacean Society International said the dolphins are panicked as they wait in the harbor, sometimes for several days, before they are squeezed together as a long net pushes them into shallow water. Some are captured and selected for captivity. The others are slaughtered by men who wade out with long stakes with knives on the ends to stab them to death, he said.
"I don't think people know what really goes on, and it's just the most brutal thing," said Kiley Blackman of the Animal Defenders of Westchester. "All they see is the frozen smiles on the dolphins at the aquarium.
"They are stolen from their families, and they scream and cry for their babies."
Aaron Welt of Chappaqua, who was first to finish the Hudson River swim, said the Yonkers Canoe Club kayakers acted like coaches as they guided him to shore.
"Wildlife is important, and by being here I'm mixing activism and exercise," Welt said.
Rossiter said thousands of dolphins are killed every year in Japan, the largest slaughterer of dolphins in the world.
"The Japanese have gotten very good at restricting media coverage of these inhumane practices," he said. "They don't want to lose face."
He said some dolphins are captured and sold, while others are used for school lunch programs and hospital food. Rossiter added that he would like people to be educated about food safety and "cause them to pause and choose something else."
Williams said she will participate in Japan Dolphin Day, an annual international protest against Japanese drive fisheries, at the Japanese Consulate in New York City at noon Wednesday.
"It's a very inhumane practice, but it's not immoral or unethical in Japanese culture," Rossiter said. "In Japan, this is a matter of efficiency. In their minds, there's nothing wrong with that."
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