The Cove: Call It a “Culture”

This is a documentary film that documents dolphin slaughtering in Taiji, Japan. The main starring of this documentary is Ric O’Barry, a former Sea Shepherd member and former dolphin trainer. The documentary opens with the filming crew members are being kept out from the “private area”. After the director Louie Psihoyos comes up with idea of hiding cameras in rocks, the moment gets proceed again. With the idea and direction, the team soon groups up people who has talent in certain fields, like scientist and divers. Before going further, the film introduces some historical backgrounds and mercury poisoning. After everything is been well prepared, the crew goes out in real action. In first attempt, they place a sound receiver into the water and run away from the guards. As the zoon is seen to be extremely important to the town people, the crews are questioned by the town’s governors. In the second action, they place several rock cameras onto the positions and await the slaughter happens. They finally capture the evidence of the dolphin slaughtering in Taiji, and Ric O’Barry even bring it to the IWC (International Whaling Commission) meeting. In the end, the whole action has brought out some positive results such as dolphin meat is removed from Taiji school lunch menu.

First, the documentary film is from an ocean conservationist’s point of view, so the idea of the film is more negative from a neutral standard point of view towards the event. Most of ideas and concept in the documentary are from Ric O’Barry’s personal opinions. Ric O’Barry, who used to be a dolphin trainer and participated in a famous television show called “Flipper”, quit his old job after his two dolphins died. He thinks dolphin is sensitive, communicable and has individuality just like human. He thinks his second dolphin is suicide, which the term rarely uses to animals.


Ric and his dolphin

From the image above we can see that Ric’s smile to his dolphin is genuine, bosom and full of love. It is not possible for a randomly picked person to do what he has done for dolphins. His love to dolphins is so passionate, and it may has become his “culture”, It is this passion encouraged the old man to do everything he can to save dolphins anywhere around the world; and this time it was in Taiji, Japan.

Taiji is a little town in Japan, but it is the primary supplier for worldwide dolphin entertainment industry.


Dolphin supplement map


The town’s fishermen capture and sell dolphins for profit. Trainers from all different aquariums come to this place and choose their equipment, and the leftovers are killed by those Japanese. According to the film, each dolphin worth $150,000 and 23,000 dolphins are killed in Japan every year. Killed dolphins are manufactured as dolphin meat sold in Taiji’s supermarket and as fake expensive whale meat in other cities.


Dolphin blood and devils

The above scene is where the slaughter takes place. Those Japanese kill too many dolphins at the same time that the seawater even turned into scarlet red by dolphin blood. They use spear to kill dolphins and salve the bodies to boat after they die. Such a massacre happens every year but ironically most of Japanese people live in metropolitan don’t know about it. Although the film doesn’t point out directly, it is clear that the Japanese government is the one behind the inhumane slaughter. They know already that dolphin meat contains very high portion of mercury through food chain, and selling dolphin meat to its civilian and even using dolphin meat for children’s lunch meal can dramatically increase the chance of getting Minamata disease. Japan is significantly a country that has suffered from mercury poisoning. And the cause of getting the situation worse during the Minamata incident was because of Japanese government’s slow action. Now the government even gets worse; controls the media and covers up the whole thing. The townspeople are saying it is their culture to kill dolphins. Maybe they’re right; it is the Japanese government’s culture to harm its own civilian and ignore their pains because it gets benefits from their suffering.

Regardless of whether there is law that sets number for dolphin’s predation on fish in Japan, but the law itself is made by us and it should only be enforced to human but no other creatures. We have no right to destruct the entire nature for our own good, but now we are slowly digging our own graves. Wisdom is a gift that given to us to develop technology and civilization, but it’s also a wall that separates us from nature. Perhaps after all creations and civilizations, we find destruction is ours the most primitive culture.


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