Save the Dolphin: Hayden Panettiere in Violent Protest

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She may not be indestructible like her kick-ass TV persona, but Heroes cheerleader Hayden Panettiere is trying to save the world in her own way, and we commend her for it.

The 18-year-old actress was involved in a confrontation with Japanese fishermen this week as she tried to disrupt a dolphin slaughter that takes place annually.

A Pretty Panettiere Pic

Along with five other marine activists, Hayden paddled out on a surfboard to reach a pod of dolphins to stop them from being driven into a nearby cove and killed.

But the six surfers, from Australia and the United States, were intercepted by a fishing boat before they could reach the dolphins.

The fishermen used the boat's propellers to block their way and at one point struck out at Hayden Panettiere and company with a boathook.

It was an ugly, potentially life-threatening confrontation that lasted more than 10 minutes before the surfers were forced to return to the beach.

It is believed that the dolphins were later taken into the cove and killed.

A keen surfer and committed marine conservationist who is a supporter of the campaign to save Japan's dolphins, Hayden Panettiere said:

"It was really frightening. Some of us were hit by the boathook. But in the end all we really worried about was the dolphins. It was so incredibly sad. We were so close to them and they were sky hopping, jumping out of the water to see us."

Breaking down in tears, the Heroes starlet added: "One little baby dolphin stuck his head out of the water and kinda looked at me and the thought that it's no longer with us is really hard to take."

Following the incident, the surfers drove straight to Osaka airport and left the country to avoid arrest by the Japanese national police.

All would have been charged with criminal trespassing, but Hayden Panettiere is now back in Los Angeles on the set of her hit TV series.

More than 22,000 dolphins are slaughtered by fishermen in Japan every year. The hunt continues despite worldwide condemnation.

In Taijie, more than 2,000 are killed in a season. Many Japanese believe dolphins should be treated like fish. They have been hunting the mammals for centuries and see criticism of this as an attack on their culture.

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Hayden Panettiere Biography

Hayden: InStyle UK Photo
Hayden Panettiere is a pretty and talented young star. You might know her from Heroes, though she has also starred in more than a dozen... More »
Born
Birthplace
Palisades, New York
Full Name
Hayden Leslie Panettiere