Student bares all for dolphins

IN PROTEST: Jade Alexander, 20, in bodypaint as a protest against dolphin hunting in Japan.
IN PROTEST: Jade Alexander, 20, in bodypaint as a protest against dolphin hunting in Japan.

Did you see this colourful character walking up Queen St?

Unitec student Jade Alexander bared all to protest against dolphin hunting in Japan.

The 20-year-old spent Thursday morning at Body FX Studio in Kingsland being painted from head to toe. She then went to Britomart to spread information about ancient dolphin hunting practices still occurring in Taiji, off the coast of Japan.

A group of protesters with signs walked with her from QEII Square to the Japanese Consulate-General's office on Shortland St. They handed out fliers about a protest they are planning for March 28.

The group plan to present a petition to the Japanese Consulate-General after the event.

"I wanted to make a statement, capture people's attention and spread awareness by doing something different," Ms Alexander says.

National co-ordinator of marine conservation organisation Sea Shepherd, Michael Lawry, supports Ms Alexander's initiative.

He says between September and March each year more than 20,000 dolphins and porpoises are lured into a cove in Taiji.

They are killed with poles and sticks and have "cruel, slow deaths" of up to half an hour, Mr Lawry says.

Some are sold as meat that is often labelled as whale to fetch a higher price, while the ones that look most like Flipper are sold to theme parks worldwide, he says.

"Most of the money is now coming from the captive industry. The Japanese get paid around $50,000 for untrained dolphins, while trained ones can get up to $200,000.

"It's great having people like Jade organising protests," he says.

Ms Alexander is an animal welfare and science student at Unitec and is an enthusiastic participant in protests. She decided it was time to lead her own after watching the documentary The Cove.

"I watched it and I just cried and cried. It's not just a couple of weeks a year, it's literally every day for seven months that they're just brutally slaughtering these animals," Ms Alexander says.

A Facebook page called "Rally against Japan's dolphin hunting" has been set up. Chelsea Armitage is an AUT journalism student

Auckland City Harbour News