Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Cove

I just finished watching the documentary 'The Cove,' a tale about the slaughtering of 23,000 bottle-nosed dolphins each year in the town of Taiji, Japan, the toxic levels of mercury in the ocean, and the multi-billion dollar industry of capturing and selling dolphins.

If there was ever a film to nudge me to make a difference, then this is it. Everyone has the moment in their lives when they snap into action; get that spark of anger and compassion towards a cause they never knew they cared so deeply about. This was mine.

The film begins with a back story on the world's obsession with dolphins. Ric O'Barry, dolphin trainer and activist, accepts responsibility for his role in consumerizing dolphins during his time as the dolphin trainer for the 80's hit series Flipper. He was the man who caught the five female bottle-nosed mammals who would play the role of the title character, Flipper. Eventually, O'Barry came to realize that the harm he was causing in their captivity. Their sensitivity to sound, he realized, was what was causing premature deaths in aquariums, and what would eventually becmoe their greatness weakness in Taiji.

"You have to see them in the wild to understand why captivity doesn't work. In the wild, they're traveling up to 40 miles a day. They could be surfing in one area in the morning, next hour, they could be 25 miles away," says O'Barry. "Dolphins are acoustic creatures. That's their primary sense. The best sonar that man has is a toy compared to the dolphin's sonar. When you're in the water, the dolphins can see right through you. They can see your heart beating, they can see your bones. They can see if you're pregnant. They get a lot of information with their sound. The dolphins captured are put in a concrete tank, surround by a stadium of screaming the stress that kills them. They're very sensitive to sound. That's their primary sense. And that's their downfall in Taiji."

During a point in the show's production, O'Barry reports that one of the dolphins, Kathy, committed suicide after showing signs of depression for awhile.

Since then, O'Barry has committed his life to ending the tragic fate dolphins encounter in Taiji, where fishermen lure dolphins into their cove and use metal poles and hammers to create a wall of sound, frightening and trapping the dolphins from escape. They then pick out the "good candidates" to sell to zoo's. aquariums, and "swim-with-dolphin" programs throughout the world. The remaining dolphins await their fate in the Killing Cove, where they are brutally murdered for their meat.

There is a scene where the activists set up hidden cameras to film the fishermen stabbing the dolphins with such vengeance and conviction, it made me vomit.

If the fishermen of Taijii were not causing enough harm with their masacuric actions, they openly facilitated the spread of mercury poisening throughtout the countryside. When their dolphin meat was not selling, they 'donated' the meat to local school lunch programs.

After the Minamata disease crisis in Minamata, Japan- mercury poisoning became wide spread as a result of the Chisso Corporation secretly dumping their toxic waste into the bay- you would think that Japan would try and prevent re-poisoning their children to the point they could not see, hear, talk, or perform basic dexterous movements. Thankfully, the meat has since been removed from the school systems.

In today's morally bankrupt world where global climate change is seemingly "non-existant" and humans kill helpless animals without a second thought, dolphins remain good-hearted mammals who selflessly prove to defend humans. They deserve the same respect from us. If the fishermen in Taiji continue to wipe out the dolphin population at their current rate, they may become extinct within 40 years.

To make a difference and to donate, visit
Save Japan Dolphins or The Cove. A $100 donation gets you a free copy of the award winning 'The Cove,' and with a $250 gift you also receive a campaign t-shirt.


  1. It takes a lot for me to be effected by something I see on tv or a movie. I'm not really a bundle of emotion but there were parts of the film that really got to me. pretty damn messed up.


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