“You’re an activist or an inactivist.”
“The Cove” won the Oscar for documentaries this year as well as 24 other awards. It was directed by Louie Psihoyos and written by Mark Monroe. I just finished watching this movie….and bawling my eyes out. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard by now about the documentary revealing the senseless murder of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. I highly recommend watching this and spreading the word to others you know, but maybe not showing it to children until you feel they are old enough to handle it because it is so heart breaking.
I am a girl, so in accordance with a stereotype of my gender, I do love dolphins. I love most animals, but dolphins are special because one of my fondest childhood memories was visiting a Marine Land show where I was a lucky child picked from the audience to “shake hands” with (touch briefly) a dolphin and afterward the happy little dolphin fetched me an little inflatable dolphin to take home as a prize. I cried the day it finally got a hole in it and wouldn’t inflate anymore.
Bias aside, I tried to watch this documentary with an open mind to judge its information and presentation on merit alone. One of the main interviewees is Ric O’Barry, a renowned trainer for dolphins on the TV Show “Flipper” in the 1960s. “Flipper” brought dolphins into the hearts and minds of people everywhere and gave them fame and demand around the world. O’Barry got to know these creatures and lived with them for many years before realizing how much captivity was causing them emotional and physical pain. Dolphins would actually get depressed and die. I have my doubts about the dolphin death of Cathy that he called a “suicide” but regardless of what you believe, there are more than enough dolphinariums in the world. This documentary really shows how the capture of dolphins for shows and zoos enables a greater crime going on.
In Taiji, dolphins are herded into a number of restricted areas like coves and nets are put into place to trap them there. After some buyers come by and pick out dolphins for their exhibits at a whopping $150,000 a dolphin, the rest are slaughtered for meat at the price of around $600 a dolphin. Dolphin meat is undesirable and filled with mercury and during the making of this documentary was being fed to children for a mandatory school lunch. There is also a misconception among the lawmakers in the Japanese culture that the whales and dolphins are depleting their country’s main resource: fish instead of the concept that people might be the actual culprit. It is claimed by this movie that approximately 23,000 dolphins and porpoises are killed in Japan each year. The Japanese people themselves appear unaware of what is going on.
The film alleges that Japan attempts to “buy” votes from small struggling island countries in the International Whaling Commission to push forward their agenda of repealing the ban on commercial whaling. It shows useless fishery buildings paid for by Japan with their flags on them that house chickens or nothing at all.
There is a bit of reality show element with setting up of cameras, dealing with Japanese trying to stop the filming, uncomfortable interviews, but the numbers and footage really speaks for itself. There are allogations that the film is propaganda and it surely is. People ask why should dolphins be any different than Westerners cows and chickens, but the film pushes forth the facts about dolphin intelligence and similarities to human nature. Beyond that, I think the dolphin’s permanent smile has a way of gaining empathy. They are beautiful, smart creatures and their plight is so cruel and meaningless. It really opens the door for why not save other creatures as well, why just these ones? In any case this should stop.
O’Barry now makes it his life’s work to free captive dolphins, but from what I’m seeing, dolphins he succeeds in freeing might someday be at risk for a worse fate at the hands of a Japanese fisherman. The most important thing now is getting the word out and getting conversations going about these atrocities so that they can be stopped.
If anyone has seen the South Park episode from Season 13 about Whale Wars and The Cove, it seems funny how ridiculously violent the cartoons are and the reasons for exterminating the “pests” of dolphins and whales. After you see the footage though, Trey Parker and Matt Stone really did not exaggerate in the cruelty of the actual killings. Have a box of kleenex handy nearby when the water turns red, I do not think I will ever forget it.
Here’s a link to their website if you are interested:
The Cove Take Part Social Action Network
You can fan them on facebook, follow on Twitter, or join their e-mail list. I personally did all three.