TOKYO (AP) — "Game of Thrones" star Maisie Williams wants everyone to stop buying tickets to marine shows. She says it's the best way to stop the capture and killings of dolphins in Japan.
"These animals travel the ocean. That's what they explore daily. No tank will be big enough. No tank will ever be deep enough, ever be exciting enough," she said Friday in a Skype call from the small Japanese town of Taiji, whose dolphin hunt was documented in the 2009 Oscar-winning film "The Cove."
Williams, 19, is the latest celebrity joining the cause to save dolphins. Others include Brian May of Queen, Sting and Daryl Hannah.
She hopes her influence, especially on social media, with 4 million followers on Instagram and 1.5 million on Twitter, will help the cause.
Ric O'Barry, the dolphin trainer for the "Flipper" TV series, started the protests against the Taiji dolphin kill. He starred in "The Cove," which depicts a pod of dolphins getting herded into an inlet and bludgeoned to death.
The ones that are killed and sold for meat are left over from the main purpose of the hunt — selling the best-looking ones to aquariums and shows.
The hunters in Taiji and their supporters have repeatedly defended the custom as tradition, although eating dolphins is extremely rare in Japan. The Japanese government also defends whaling as research.
Williams, who is the global ambassador for O'Barry's Dolphin Project campaign, said that only a handful of Taiji fishermen are benefiting from the practice and many Japanese don't even know about Taiji.
"It's not an attack on Japan at all, or on Taiji, or the people of Taiji," she said. "I want to say, honestly, hand on heart, that this is not an attack on anyone in specific."
"The Cove," directed by Louis Psihoyos, which was not widely shown in Japan, went online Friday for free viewing limited to Japan and in a Japanese language version, after the filmmakers rebought distribution rights.
Williams said she went to the cove earlier in the day, but there was no slaughter.
During her trip, her second time in Japan, she plans to go whale-watching in Mikura Islands, south of Tokyo, where whales are protected and dolphins are often seen swimming in the wild.
"It was something that just struck a chord in my heart. And I'm a firm believer that, if there is something that you really want to stand up and fight for, then you should. And with everyone doing their own little bit for what they believe in, hopefully together we can make the world a better place," she said of her wish to save dolphins.
The Dolphin Project: https://dolphinproject.net/
"The Cove" online in Japanese: http://dolphinfriends.jp/
Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/yuri-kageyama
This story has been corrected to show that filmmakers, not Dolphin Project, bought back rights.