Secret Slaughter Of Dolphins Exposed In Academy Award Winning Documentary

On long flight from LA to NYC on Virgin America, I browsed through the list of movies to entertain myself. The Cove, a documentary about the slaughter of over 20, 000 dolphins and porpoises in Taiji, Japan caught my attention, with a little bit of resistance, of course. Did I really want to see a movie about the slaughter of beautiful dolphins? Not really- but my curiosity was spiked and I couldn’t ignore the potential knowledge sitting inside box in front of me.

Unbeknownst to me, The Cove had already created worldwide awareness of the practice of selling toxic mercury laden dolphin meat. The film, which was released in 2009, also had already won nearly every award that could be bestowed upon a film of its kind, finally scooping the Oscar for best documentary. Watching the film, it was obvious why the eco-thriller held the accolades.

The expose began with an honest intention of the director and crew, high hopes to work with the government in Taiji and to film legally with all sides of the story represented. After repeated death threats, constant surveillance and harassment by local Taiji police and fisherman, the crew had to change tactic. What exactly were the fisherman and local government trying to hide? It was more than obvious there was a story that was hidden well.   They left Taiji with a promise to return, something they would do  seven times before the end of the film. They enlisted sea lovers with celebrity status and camouflage movie equipment. Some of the camera equipment was made by George Lucas Lab to look exactly like a rocks and trees that lined what they called ‘the killing cove”. This secret camera equipment would give the crew footage they needed to prove there was shady business going on in Taiji. After risking their lives to plant the camera equipment along the cove at obscene hours, the crew began piecing together what was happening.   The fisherman trapped dolphins in killing cove; the most aesthetic bottlenose dolphins were sold to aquariums for up to $200,000. The dolphins that didn’t fit the bottlenose “flipper” look were slaughtered and sold across Japan as whale meat.

What makes the story even worse is that the dolphin meat is toxic with high levels of mercury and is slowly poisoning the Japanese people. The dolphin meat which is then labeled as whale meat is further   sold to school lunch programs as well as grocery stores, containing 3 to 3500 times the levels of mercury that is considered safe by the Japanese government.

The film itself is so visually captivating as and the content is rich. There is no actual slaughter shown of the dolphins but the imagination puts  two and  two together. We know what their fate will be. It’s a great education,  to  learn the  toxicity of fish who are at the top of the food chain and the high levels of mercury that seem to be in all fish in the ocean. There is also an obvious education as to   how cultures value different forms of life.

For me, the message i took away is that i need to change the way i contribute to the problem. I will never pay the $60 to go to SeaWorld or any other place that holds  dolphins captive. If my need to see them is killing them, then perhaps its time to reassess how I live on this Earth.


Until next time...