Brigitte Lacombe/Condé Nast Traveler)
08/19/2011 at 02:00 PM EDT
For Hayden Panettiere
, swimming with dolphins and whales isn't recreation, it's a personal mission.
At 17, the actress protested the slaughter of dolphins in Japan in the award-winning documentary The Cove
. Now 22, she is an international spokesperson for the Whaleman Foundation
, an organization that aims to protect cetaceans and their habitats. Condé Nast Traveler
acknowledges Panettiere in its latest issue, citing her "will of steel."
"I'm an activist who's aware of what's realistic to achieve and what's not," she says of her work. "I wouldn't waste my time going straight for the jugular."
Panettiere continues speaking out on behalf of whales and dolphins and can next be seen swimming with dolphins in an upcoming documentary.