Manipulating Food

Louis Psihoyos’ film The Cove uncovers the hidden act of slaughtering of dolphins in the town of Taiji,Japan which has been kept hidden from both the inhabitants of the town and the entire country of Japan. Ric O’Barry, renowned dolphin trainer and former trainer of one of America’s beloved dolphin’s Flipper, travels with Louis Psihoyos and a group of activists to Taiji to find evidence that exposes the severity and the atrocity of the dolphin hunt which the Japanese government tries desperately to conceal. Fisherman and police constantly keep them under surveillance because they do not want them to capture images of this horrific act making it more difficult for the crew to expose them. When O’Barry questions the local councilman of Taiji, Hisato Ryono, about what goes on in the cove, he responds by saying that it is a means of supplying food and the whole town knows about this. He refers to the killing as an act similar to killing cows in that it an unpleasant sight hinting at the idea of dolphins simply being common food products. It is claimed to be a Japanese tradition that does nothing except supply the population with more food to be consumed. The fisherman of Taiji and the Japanese government use the concept of food to maintain the business alive at all cost because although they make some profit from selling their meat, the real profit stems from selling these dolphins to aquariums around the world.

The chosen performance dolphins are sent to aquariums across the globe while the other dolphins are killed for meat at the cove in Taiji.

Ric O’Barry reaches out to Louis Psihoyos and the group to conduct a secret undercover mission to get footage of the killing because he wants people to understand the severity of this problem. He was the witness of seeing a dolphin commit suicide while working as the trainer for the Flipper show and feels it is his duty to help expose Taiji in order to help save the dophins. As he continued to train dolphins he established a connection with these creatures which allowed him to understand that dolphins are highly intelligent species that are meant to live in the wild and not in captivity since they exhibit human-like qualities. He not only wants to stop the hunt along with his team but desires to have people understand that these creatures who are not meant to entertain and be harassed by humans. Throughout the film, the fisherman and those opposed to stopping the hunts often dismiss these ideas of dolphins being conscious animals who have emotions like humans rather than decide to consider these views because the money made from this business is what is most important to them. This dismissal is portrayed through the various shots of the fisherman yelling at the camera crew to back away, interfering with filming by filming back at them with their own cameras, and constantly spying on the crew to ensure there is no filming. Nevertheless not all are ignorant to this problem because it is revealed that many commoners are forced to remain silent about the subject and accept this idea hence creating the “dolphin hunting tradition”.

The camera crew is harassed by a local resident (“Private Space”) attempting to prevent the crew from filming at the cove in Taiji.

The concept of food in Taiji fuels this industry because it is a justification that is difficult to argue against. According to the IWC Japanese delegate, Joji Morishita, the reason to allow this continuation of slaughtering is to reduce the number of dolphins which he believes to be the cause of the decline of consumable fish in the oceans. He creates various data charts to attempt to convince the other IWC delegates to support Japan but the data proves to be incorrect because the actual cause for this decline in fish is the increase in population size rather than dolphins. The dolphin population is being decreased because of these hunts therefore it is illogical for these creatures to consume more fish. The method that was intended for this argument is to make others believe that a shortage of fresh fish may be imminent calling for a possible increase in deaths due to starvation.  The notion of death  by hunger is something that all countries work hard to avoid therefore the Japanese delegate decided to attempt to gain sympathy from other delegates whom he knows will not allow the possibility of food shortages to exists. Food is vital to human life hence it is physiologically impossible for others to view a country suffer from starvation when there is a solution to the problem available. For this scenario, killing dolphins is the proposed solution but in reality the dolphins are not the cause for the fish shortages.

Only a small percentage of the dolphins caught are sold to aquariums and the ones deemed unfit for aquariums are killed and processed to be sold at markets. The film features the team as a group of spies and much like the classic spies in films such as 007, spies often tend to question all the evidence they collect thus far. In this case, after discovering that only certain dolphins are chosen for entertainment hence creating an increase in deceased dolphins, the question that was asked is where the meat goes when dolphin meat is not in high demand. At this stage, the typical spy would analyze data samples or any physical evidence therefore leading O’Barry and the team to analyze other meat samples. With the aid of a DNA tester, they discovered that Taiji has been secretly selling mercury poisoned dolphin meat in meat claimed to be healthy high quality whale meat. Nevertheless, these people are unaware of this fact and continue to be unaware up to this point. The Japanese are using the notion of food against its citizens both young and elderly and are harming their health in order to keep the dolphin business alive. Dolphin meat contains 2000 ppm of mercury which is highly toxic and is being fed to the people of Taiji with the consent of the government. Food is a basic necessity which allows the Japanese government to continue this operation because it is logical that people will trust the labels on the meat they purchase and as long as it is edible the people will eat it without having any doubt that what they eat might be in fact dolphin meat. Rather than creating more food for the people of Japan, a shortage of healthy food is secretly created and mercury poisoning continues to rise.

O’Barry and the crew take DNA samples to prove dolphin meat in mixed in with other meats.

In The Cove, food is used as a justification for the measures taken by the Japanese government in favor of the dolphin hunting in Taiji. As shown by the footage captured by O’Barry, Psihoyos and the team, killing dolphins is an inhumane act because are intellectual creatures who are meant to be free. Nevertheless, the profit that is being made by this business of selling and consuming dolphin drives the Japanese to protect it at all cost in order to further strengthen its economy because much money is made in selling one dolphin to an aquarium  with extra being made by selling the other dolphins for meat. It has reached a point where Japan has actually paid lower level countries to support their ideas because this has become a very profitable business. But, in order to conceal the horrors that take place at the cove, it is often argued that without the dolphins food will become scarce. Although this fact is not true, it enough to convince some people that they are just in their actions taken  and make it difficult for others to argue against Japan. Unfortunately, this concept is used against Japan’s own people and goes against the principle of killing dolphins for the sake of the population. Food can be used in different ways but in this case, food causes more harm than profit.


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