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Making A Splash On Capitol Hill

By's Melissa Castellanos

From the seas of Japan to Capitol Hill, NBC's "Heroes" star Hayden Panettiere is on a mission to stop commercial whaling and she is determined to be heard.

The feisty 18-year old, who is the spokesperson for the "Save the Whales Again!" campaign, is proving that like her character, cheerleader Claire Bennet, she will cheer on the cause through in-your-face-activism.

Photos: Hayden Panettiere
Panettiere, who ventured into dangerous, blood-filled Japanese waters with five other surfboard-riding activists last fall to stop Japanese dolphin hunters from the kill, spoke at a press conference Tuesday hosted by House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee Chair Nick Rahall.

Sen. John Kerry also joined Panettiere in her mission by urging the U.S. Government to reinstate its former leadership role protecting whales from commercial whaling as well as military whaling, which occurs in Kerry's home state of Massachusetts.

"Dolphins and whales are some of the most contaminated animals on the planet and like canaries in a coal mine they are telling us that something is seriously wrong with our oceans," Panetierre said during her speech.

Panetierre, who brought along her own camera crew to the press conference, is currently working on a documentary that she considers to be a "kind of 'Inconvenient Truth' of the oceans."

"We are poisoning the oceans' food chain and ultimately poisoning ourselves and I think that is it vitally important to get this truth out to the younger generations who, after all, will be the ones to face up to the problems that are occurring today," Panettiere said.

"That's why I am making the documentary, why I'm in Washington D.C., why I want a president who looks ahead and will protect the marine environment for our future generations and why I am a part of something called 'Declare Yourself,' which encourages young people that their vote does matter, that their vote does count and that they are the future," she continued.

Susan Millward of the Animal Welfare Institute told The Showbuzz that Kerry spoke of saving the North Atlantic Right Whale, which is severely endangered with only 250-350 remaining in the entire world.

"Whales are facing decimation by military and commercial whaling in Boston and in the East Coast," Millward said.

The international problem also hits close to home for the Massachusetts senator who is on a mission to reduce speed limits on the waters and tackle environmental laws.

On Jan. 27, Panettiere made an appearance at the "Save the Whales Again!" rally in Washington D.C.'s Dupont Circle.

In her speech there, Panettiere highlighted that Japanese hunters claim that the killing is part of "scientific" hunts, which she and other activists believe is their way of skirting around a two-decade long ban on commercial whaling.

Panettiere later spoke at Georgetown University and then visited the embassies of Iceland, Norway and Japan.

"Whales face increasing threats from climate change, ship strikes, entanglement in nets, and chemical and noise pollution, yet Japan, Norway and Iceland continue to kill them in increasing numbers," Panettiere said on her myspace page.

"Hayden is a great spokesperson for the young people of today," Susan Millward of the Animal Welfare Institute told the The Showbuzz. "She is reaching out to young people to put their voices together collectively and to stand together on the issue."

The events in D.C. will lead up to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) which will be held in March 2008 in Santiago, Chile.