The Cove: Truthful Yet Systematic

The film, The Cove, is a very insightful documentary, which reveals the atrocious dolphin slaughter that takes place in Taiji, Japan. Cameras follow lead activist Ric O’Barry, and his followers, as he pushes to free the dolphins and put an end to the killing of these precious creatures. Following the team, audiences are automatically taken to the side of the activists. The documentary is no doubt very knowledgeable and has an honorable objective, however, it displays its argument very strategically. Only information that is needed to support their cause is displayed while the sentiments of the Japanese fishermen are ignored.

Here a dolphin is seen to be playing, which people find cute. The documentary uses this to gain supporters.

Dolphins are probably one of the most well known types of whales. They are noted to be highly intelligent, cute, friendly, and known to be a species that has a thought process similar to ours, in that they have emotions. Taking this information, the documentary is able to use this image to gain supporters, and in this way gains authority in wanting to free the dolphins. To further gain support, the documentary also displays the fishermen as rude, unsympathetic people.

Although it is very much a fact that these fishermen are serving an injustice to these innocent and intelligent creatures, there is still an absence of their point of view. When looking on a deeper level, it can be deducted that perhaps these fishermen are fighting for a way of life that doesn’t exist anymore. In the years before, not only was whaling legal, but it was also common in Japan. For them, it was some form of a tradition, but then suddenly they were taken from the privilege to practice it. Looking from this perspective, it then seems reasonable that they would choose to take this course of action and fight against the activists to continue the fishing of dolphins. This also serves as a connection to their feelings of nationalistic pride. These fishermen may simply want to preserve their Japanese culture and revive it to what it once was, rather than have western foreigners/activists tell them what they can and cannot do. With or without their perspective, however, a question of ethics is still raised, because these fishermen are aware that what they are doing is in disapproval.

Here, fishermen are capturing the dolphins not sold to trainers and preparing to put them on the market.This is a tradition for these fishermen.

Aside from previous reasoning, it is disapproved because dolphin meat is highly dangerous. People who choose to eat it, take a risk at developing mercury poisoning. Even with health issues at hand though, it is still served to the public, including children and is often mislabeled as whale meat. Luckily, it is rarely eaten, at least in places outside of Taiji. People closer to this town were not interviewed for statistics, adding to the one-sided argument that the documentary makes. Even without the necessary statistics however, the documentary is still able to shed light on the idea that consumers are being deceived, and in fact have no real control over how these products are even allowed to be marketed. It also serves as a display of the crude reality of how these animals are put on the market, simply for the interest of profit.

This is dolphin meat being sold in the market, some of which is labeled as whale meat. People consuming this are in danger of great health issues.

Throughout the entire film, it is very clear that there is a battle between the preservation of dolphin freedom and the desire to use them as entertainment and food. It has gained many advocates for dolphin preservation, and is therefore deemed, in my opinion, a very well executed documentary. However, it would be far more effective, and perhaps even gain more support if it were to include more opinion from the Japanese and still be able to display these fishermen as “the enemy.” Irregardless, The Coveis a fantastic piece, captivating audiences with intrigue and suspense, and gives incentive to the people to take initiative to save these animals and take control over what they consume.


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