There are a lot of thing you can expect to see at Place Masséna: musicians, performers, a Christmas market. But on Saturday August 29th, 2015, people on hand witnessed another scene: five semi-naked people, with their bodies painted red, lay on a fishing net surrounded by inflatable dolphins. A few meters away, a group stood still behind with signs reading: “Watch Blackfish” and “Watch The Cove”, while others urged passers-by with a petition.
These are not actors putting on a show for entertainment but a demonstration organised by the association Sans Voix Paca. The regional association was keeping up with the Taiji Dolphin Day movement, to bring awareness to the horrors taking place in Japan.
Each year the country organises a massive dolphins slaughter. During these annual hunts, the animals are driven by small boats into a bay before being butchered with hooks and knives. Japan isn’t the only country. Recently, the images of this horrendous event in the Faroe Islands spread quickly across the internet: a beautiful blue sea turned ugly red as the blood of hundreds of pilot whales drains into the water, while on the land huntsmen are seen laughing and smiling.
“Those horrible massacres are recklessly taking place every year,” explained Marli Sabayon from Sans Voix PACA, “and they don’t only kill the males but even the pregnant females and babies.” None are safe. The locals defend themselves by declaring it’s an old custom, but for animal rights associations it’s a bit outdated. “While in the past, the animals were killed to be eaten, nowadays the meat can’t be consumed anymore because it contains mercury,” explains Marli.
But the dolphins and pilot whales currently being butchered aren’t the only reason why 100 volunteers took turn all day in Nice. Marianne Baldo, Kevin Schiltz, Christophe Bondue, Xavier Figarella and Rosie Kunneke were all in the minds of the volunteers. These five activists from the Sea Shepherd association have been found guilty of breaching the Faroese Pilot Whale Act.
“This demo was also a way to show them our support,” declared Marli, with many volunteers from the Sea Shepherd association participating in the protest.
If the arrest and the images of the slaughters have been widely criticised online, the French government, including Ségolène Royal – the current Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, who criticised Nutella (before excusing herself) for its impact on the environment a few weeks ago – remained surprisingly quite silent.
Thanks to this demonstration, Sans Voix PACA gathered more than 1187 signatures and 153 letters destined for Ms Royal. An incredible result for the association who wasn’t expecting such success. “Even if there’s still a part of the public who don’t want to hear about it or just don’t care, more and more people are opening their eyes,” says Marli.