“The Cove” Slaughtering dolphins in Japan for food, fun, and profit

Taiji Dolphin CoveThe environmental thriller “The Cove” follows the stealth reconnaissance work of Ric O’Barry as he uncovers the dolphin drive fishery in Taiji, Japan.

Ric was the dolphin trainer who selected and trained the dolphins of the 60’s TV series “Flipper” – which began the American love affair with these sentient and intelligent animals.

The consequences of this national love affair included a rapid rise of dolphin parks and water shows throughout the world – a fact that troubled Mr. O’Barry so much that he has since dedicated his life to reversing this practice – now working for Earth Island’s Marine Mammal Project.

The dolphins in these parks come from many places throughout the world, but perhaps the most disturbing pedigree are the dolphins that are selected from the victims of the Taiji drive fishery.

Each year some 20,000 dolphins are herded, slaughtered and butchered in Taiji, Japan – except for the few “unblemished” and photogenic specimens that are selected by dolphin “trainers” and sent to parks around the world.

The dolphins that don’t make this ‘cut’ make the death cut and are sold into the Japanese markets falsely labeled as “whale meat.” (People are getting wise to the extreme mercury load of dolphin meat.)

The dolphins are driven into the cove by noise – the fishermen hammer on metal pipes with resonators submersed into the water. The noise is obnoxious enough to drive the dolphins into the cove to escape. Nets are then drawn across the cove and the grisly affair begins.

While the movie is grim, the filmmakers have spared us the most gruesome shots; and if dolphin slaughter can be sensitively displayed, they have done the best that could be done.

“The Cove” is an eco-thriller that will hopefully stop this gruesome fishery in its tracks – and perhaps be the first of a genre of movies wherein environmental activists are honored for their heroism, rather than ridiculed for their zeal.

“The Cove” opens this week in NY and LA and in other major US cities next Friday

See: http://thecovemovie.com/festivals/upcoming_screenings.htm for locations near you.

2 comments for ““The Cove” Slaughtering dolphins in Japan for food, fun, and profit

  1. Michele Hodge
    November 15, 2011 at 5:55 am

    To whom it may concern,

    I find it utterly disgusting that Japan is still slaughtering gorgeous dolphins whom are clever curious creatures and whom love humans, WHY ?? you have to stop this as its inhumane and cruel and ignorant and i also saw the film which was shown on uk tv about this abismal trade. I wonder whether humans are intelligent enough to understand that these creatures need to survive and live in their own territory which humans are invading !

    Yours sincerely

    M Hodge

    • November 15, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      Ric O’Barry chose Taiji because it was a “cleaner” story: Dolphin round-up, sale of the photogenic victims to buyers, and slaughter of all of the rest. The fishery is not making enough money on the meat to justify the effort, so without the captive animal trade it would go under.

      But the story gets more complicated: The captive animal trade is going on all over the South Pacific; dolphins are captured that end up in “dolphinariums” and “dolphin swim experiences” everywhere. If you have seen a captive dolphin at a theme park, or swam with one somewhere, you have witnessed this brutality in action.

      Purportedly parks and aquariums in the US are prohibited from accepting dolphins procured this way. But the loophole is that they can take dolphins that are already in captivity from parks or aquariums that are “going under.” Thus there are a lot of “dolphin laundries” that open up to take in dolphins, then “go out of business” and have to place their stock.

      I understand that the Tijii dolphins sell for $150k to $200k. Perhaps more now that they are under global scrutiny.

      Let folks know about this, as it will hopefully stem the popularity of these cruel, exploitative facilities.

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