Monday, August 10, 2009

The Cove

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead

An admission: I am obsessively curious about cetacean animals. Since stumbling upon this article, I have been devouring all accessible information about marine mammals. Everything I have learned about cetacean intelligence has left me teeming with excitement that the our own oceans house a life force capable of the kind of intelligent life we assume can only be found in outer space. Every bit of information I acquire, like a recent story I heard on TV about a surfer being surrounded by a ring of protective dolphins during a shark attack, propels me further into this love I have for cetaceans.

After watching the preview for The Cove this morning, I was compelled to make it to the theater today to witness the horrible dolphin slaughter I've read so much about. The film tells the story of a covert slaughtering of dolphins that happens yearly in a fishing cove in Japan. 23,000 dolphins are brutally killed by militant fisherman, who herd the dolphins into the cove with disruptive sonar, then maliciously harpoon the captive dolphins until the surrounding waters turn a deep red. Furthermore, the fisherman attempt to pawn off the dolphin meat (which is tainted with high levels of mercury) by mis-labeling it as whale meat. When the meat doesn't sell, they even attempt to give it away for free to the public school system to use for its mandatory lunches.

This slaughtering occurs every year beginning in September and the filmmakers are the first to capture actual footage of this bloody event. The film traces their stealthy operation with the intensity of a thriller, yielding gripping results. I am very impressed by the bravery and humanity exhibited by all the film's participants.

And then there's Richard O'Barry, the former dolphin trainer and current global activist, who plays a vital role in the film's conception. He was the inspiration for the film, having turned the director on to the case. I think the following passage best explains his presence in the film:
But “The Cove,” like the dolphins, would be lost without Richard O’Barry, who captured and trained all five of the animals who made Flipper a television star and a household name and sparked the craze for performing sea mammals. His drooping eyes and sagging shoulders testify to the bone-deep exhaustion of someone who has spent the last 35 years atoning, and when he gate-crashes a meeting of the International Whaling Commission, the video screen strapped to his chest is like a physical manifestation of decades of guilt.

- from the NYTimes review

I'm having a hard time concluding this post. After seeing the film and thinking about how I could extend my efforts toward this cause, my eyes have turned dry and my heart has become exhausted. Watch the preview. Go see the film. Visit this site to learn how you can take action and sign a petition that urges our leaders to demand change from the Japanese government and the International Whaling Commission.

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