Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Cove - A Movie Review

The Cove” is an intense documentary exposing the horrendous practice of bottlenose dolphin slaughter taking place in Taiji, Japan. It is an Oscar award winning film for best documentary released in 2009. Every September, in accordance with dolphin migration, an estimated 23,000 dolphins are brutally killed in a hidden away, well guarded cove. These animals are then served as meat (often mislabeled) in markets all over Japan. A secondary issue mentioned in the movie is the ridiculously high mercury levels found in the meat; 0.4 ppm is considered safe for human consumption, and the tissue samples from these dolphins are at 2,000 ppm. But, that is an entirely different problem in the ocean food web.

I appreciate the topic of the movie, but most importantly am pleased to see the passionate, yet professional approach to the issues at hand. This is not another Michael Moore edition of “the Ranting Swede” that is simply anti-Japanese. It is a well constructed piece, with climactic events and strong characters – just like any other movie should be. However, it does not have the same positive bolster at the end that the documentary Sharkwater surprisingly delivered. But I understand the inherent challenges that come with tackling such tragic subject matter while avoiding a depressing conclusion.

A side note to the main message of the film is the very interesting insight into Ric O’Barry, the original star of the Flipper show. I would seriously watch a biography specifically on that man. He went from a man who helped chaperone dolphin captivity into a worldwide multi-million dollar industry to a “Free Dolphins” zealot with PETA-esque fervor. I was moved by his story all on its own. To learn more about his organization, check out:

RATING: ~ ~ ~ 1/2 (3.5 out of 5 waves) There are some extremely brutal scenes in the film, so I do not suggest sharing this with young children, and make sure you are mentally prepared before watching as well.

I actually learned of the film from a friend on Facebook, and joined the cause… and I don’t play Mafia Wars or have a Zoo or play Farmville; but this is a serious issue that should be addressed. The film was officially released in 2009, but primarily on the independent film circuit. It is now available on DVD for rental or purchase, and it is currently hitting censorship roadblocks in Japan. Big surprise. For information on the Ocean Preservation Society (OPS) - they produced the film- check out:

In addition, the IWC (International Whaling Commission), a “toothless” organization that is meant to mitigate all activity concerning whales, generally dismisses issues about dolphins because they are the smallest cetaceans and not on the endangered species list. Consider this- dolphins may not be endangered, but most species found throughout the world are not actually found everywhere. An animal may be abundant in only a few small areas, but since they can be readily found there, the dangers to the population are often overlooked.

Also, as devil’s advocate: What exactly IS the problem with killing and eating dolphins? Should we stop ALL meat consumption? Should somebody make a film about farms and beef slaughterhouses? Personally, I feel (based on our teeth and other physiological traits) humans were meant to be omnivores. Some humans have the fortitude, or even just a natural inclination, NOT to eat meat. That is fine, as long as they take care to get all the proper nutrients in order to remain healthy. I do NOT, however, believe we are the only intelligent beings on this planet. It is widely accepted that cannibalism is wrong, and it makes sense to include all creatures that are self-aware under that umbrella. Okay, this hot debate will be a battleground for vegans and self-proclaimed carnivores that will never end. But there is a reason why we feel for certain animal species; it is possible to connect with another creature. If you have never experienced it, then I suggest you spend more time outside… some animal will connect with you in a way you never expected. I will never knowingly eat dog or wolf, whale or sea turtle; I don’t eat veal and like to buy eggs that come from happy chickens (i.e. free range, veggie-fed). I’m not a vegetarian, but I understand why many people choose that lifestyle and I respect it.

Spend some time this week making choices that are bigger than just one person. Think about the food you eat (I don’t mean stress about it, just try to appreciate it) and where it came from. Show respect while driving through a parking lot or waiting in the checkout line. These little changes make us a better species, so it is always worth your time.

-Callie Sharkey


Jimmy Jarred said...

Its a very strong and powerful movie. After watching this movie I started loving dolphins even more.
The Cove 2009

Thomas Watson said...

Heartbreaking ! So glad there are people who dedicate their time to reveal this barbaric industry.