The Cove: Annual Killing of Dolphins

Topics: Dolphin drive hunting, Film festival, Whaling in Japan Pages: 7 (2831 words) Published: February 22, 2011
The Cove is a 2009 documentary film that describes the annual killing of dolphins in a Quasi-National Park at Taiji, Wakayama, in Japan from an ocean conservationist's point of view.[2][3] The film highlights the fact that the number of dolphins killed in the Taiji dolphin hunting drive is several times greater than the number of whales killed in the Antarctic, and claims that 23,000 dolphins and porpoises are killed in Japan every year in the country's whaling industry. The migrating dolphins are herded into a hidden cove where they are netted and killed by means of spears and knives over the side of small fishing boats. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan's most recent progress report 1,569 cetaceans in Taiji were killed during the 2007 season, including methods other than drive hunting. The Ministry reports that only 1,239 cetaceans were killed by drive hunting, and that a total of 13,080 cetaceans were killed throughout Japan in 2007.[4] The film was directed by former National Geographic photographer Louie Psihoyos.[5] Portions were filmed secretly during 2007 using underwater microphones and high-definition cameras disguised as rocks.[2][6] The documentary won the U.S. Audience Award at the 25th annual Sundance Film Festival in January 2009. It was selected out of the 879 submissions in the category.[2][7] On March 7, 2010, The Cove won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 82nd Academy Awards.[8] The film follows former dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry's quest to document the dolphin hunting operations in Taiji, Wakayama, Japan. In the 1960s, O'Barry helped capture and train the five wild dolphins who shared the role of "Flipper" in the hit television series of the same name. The show, a pop-culture phenomenon, fueled widespread public adoration of dolphins, influencing the development of marine parks that included dolphins in their attractions. After one of the dolphins, in O'Barry's opinion, committed a form of suicide in his arms by closing her blowhole voluntarily in order to suffocate, O'Barry came to see the dolphin's captivity as a curse, not a blessing. Days later, he was arrested off the island of Bimini, attempting to cut a hole in the sea pen in order to set free a captured dolphin.[9] Since then, according to the film, O'Barry has dedicated himself full-time as an advocate on behalf of dolphins around the world. After meeting with O'Barry, Psihoyos and his crew travel to the small town of Taiji, a town that appears to be devoted to the wonder of the dolphins and whales that swim off the town's coast. In a nearby, isolated cove, however, surrounded by wire fences and "Keep Out" signs, an activity takes place that the townspeople attempt to hide from the public. In the cove a group of Taiji fishermen engage in dolphin drive hunting. The film states that the dolphin hunt is, in a large part, motivated by the tremendous revenue generated for the town by selling some of the captured dolphins to aquariums and marine parks. The dolphins that are not sold into captivity are then slaughtered in the cove by the fishermen and the meat is sold in supermarkets. According to anecdotal evidence presented in the film, most Japanese throughout Japan are unaware of the hunt or the marketing of dolphin meat. The film states that the dolphin meat contains dangerously high levels of mercury and profiles local Japanese politicians who have, for that reason, advocated the removal of dolphin meat from local school lunches. Attempts to view or film the dolphin culling in the cove are physically blocked by local volunteers who treat the visitors with open intimidation, derision, and anger. Foreigners who come to Taiji, including The Cove's film crew, are shadowed and questioned by the local police. In response, together with the Oceanic Preservation Society, Psihoyos, O'Barry, and the crew utilize special tactics and technology to covertly film what is taking place in the cove.[10]...
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