Sunday, 16 May 2010

The Cove

Last night, we watched The Cove (2009) on DVD. It is a powerful documentary about the killing of 23 000 dolphins each year in the Japanese town of Taiji. It is told from the perspective of a group of activists who are trying to stop the annual slaughter from taking place, and also to prevent any more dolphins and whales being taken from the wild and into a life of captivity. I remember seeing reviews about the film as it became the runaway hit during a documentary festival last year and added it to my 'must see' list.

At times, The Cove is quite disturbing to watch. Some of the slaughter scenes later on in the film are truly distressing; it is shocking to realise what happens for several months of each year. The documentary features renown dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, who captured and trained the five dolphins used for the tv series Flipper. He tells of how he went from helping to establish a dolphin captivity industry to now actively trying to free these animals, attempting to release them back into the wild, often engaging in conflict along the way. Things are not all smiles with these beautiful, intelligent creatures when they are held in captivity.

Various supporting arguments justifying the annual dolphin slaughter were given by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), as well as Japanese government and industry representatives. This included 'cultural reasons', and dolphins being considered a 'pest', eating much of the supply of fish that Japanese people rely on to live. Even though the concentration of mercury found in animals further up the food chain (including dolphins) is so much higher than is safe for human consumption, and those who eat it risk mercury poisoning, dolphin meat remains on sale and available in supermarkets. There was even a suggestion that it be used in Japanese school lunches, which are compulsory for all children to eat at school. Truly mindboggling.

The Cove is highly recommended viewing for anyone who is interested in conservation issues around the world. A few web links were given at the end of the film to help viewers spread the word or take action:


Juli Ryan said...

"The Cove" sounds like a really disturbing doco. Will be sure to watch it. xo's

Kellee said...

Sounds like a very important watch. Will have to keep an eye out.