A Magnificent Documentary Team
"The Cove" is not just a documentary feature film. It is a calling to the world to stop the killing of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. Japanese fisherman have been both whale and dolphin hunting for decades. They are destroying not only the most intelligent and beautiful mammals on the planet, they're selling the meat which is full of mercury poisoning to it's own people.
The team assembled to take on the issue of saving the dolphins is brilliant. It's no wonder the film won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature Film at the 82nd Academy Awards. Ric O'Barry was the dolphin trainer that started the entire business of showcasing dolphins at theme parks as he trained the first five dolphins for the 1960's TV show, "Flipper." He was not only on the show, but the show took place in his own backyard. After a dolphin swam up to O'Barry one day and purposely stopped breathing and committed suicide in his arms, O'Barry realized that captivity was very wrong for these deeply sensitive mammals. But the calling for dolphins to be showcased in places like Sea World and all over the world were exploding. A fishing village in Taiji, Japan became the center of acquiring dolphins. Buyers from all over would come to Taiji to pick the very best dolphins for their theme parks. What happened to the rest of the dolphins?
Ric O'Barry didn't become an activist to save the dolphins until decades later. O'barry would crash summits geared towards how the dolphins are well cared for by the Japanese fishermen and the Japanese government. O'Barry knows there's a conspiracy and a cover-up by the Japanese government. He teams up with director Louie Psihoyos and the Ocean Preservation Society to tackle the difficult tasks of proving that thousands of dolphins are being slaughtered every year by Japanese fishermen and that dolphin meat, full of mercury poisoning is being sold and fed to school children.
The team finds out that the Japanese fishermen take the unwanted dolphins over to a cove. The team decides to add members to their team and include the very best technology. They hire a special effects team that normally builds miniature sets for movies like "Pirates of the Caribbean." The effects team creates rocks that can hide High Definition cameras inside. The idea is to place the rocks in areas around the cove to witness one of the dolphin massacres.
Another addition to the team is two professional divers that have often encountered and swam with dolphins and whales. They film them swimming underwater with the dolphins. One dolphin lets the woman diver get close enough to rub its tummy. This shows the open-mindedness and willingness of another mammal to be befriend a mammal of a different species. The dolphin wanted to connect with the human. The cinematography is stunning and breath-taking!
Before the team goes on their mission to place the rocks around and inside the cove, a group of surfers plan to enter the cove to show sympathy towards the dolphins. The group of about eight surfers paddle out in the water near where the cove is. The group forms a circle and holds hands much like surfers do when one of their surfing pals has lost their life. The surfers were very quiet and were simply holding hands. It didn't take long for a fishing boat to motor beside them and rudely tell them to leave. One of the fishermen even poked at one of the surfers with their oar.
One of the surfers was "Heroes" star Hayden Panttiere. She's a true hero in my book. Panttiere recently returned to the cove in Taiji, Japan with her boxer boyfriend, Wladimir Klitschko, and a small group of activists to bring attention to the issue of dolphin killings. According to the associated Press, Panettiere and her activists were treated to a very cold reception. She mentioned that if the town of Taiji stopped the killing she'd 'love to be a spokesperson.' In her own words, "We are trying to peacefully come up with better ideas as to how to generate income and utilize the nature here. We've been to Taiji before and it's a beautiful place with beautiful wildlife." Panettiere's group was blocked at the town hall door when trying to talk to the mayor. Panettiere is also the spokesperson for the "Save the Whales Again!" campaign.
Louie Psihoyos, Ric O'Barry and the Ocean Preservation Society team go out one night to complete the amazing task of setting the cameras all around including inside the cove itself by some divers. Another part of the team is this military figure that donated an illegal heat-sensitive camera to the operation which helped their mission immensely. The Japanese fishermen are connected to the local police and the government. Any time Ric or Louie are in town they are questioned, followed, etc. Every time their team heads to the cove area the fishermen shout at them, take their picture and tell them to go away.
Not only does the operation work smoothly and the cameras capture the most horrific footage of the fishermen slaughtering the dolphins, so many other issues are uncovered. Two councilmen of the school education system came forward about how dolphin meat was being given to schools to feed the children. The team uncovered that dolphins in general are full of mercury poisoning which can cause birth defects. Dolphin meat had been thrown in with the regular groceries and called whale meat when it wasn't.
"The Cove" is difficult at times to watch for some, but one must see the carnage to truly understand how wrong these acts are.
Ric O'Barry and the Ocean Preservation Society got some great recognition for accomplishing their initial mission. But this is not "Mission Accomplished." The world is starting to hear their voices. Meanwhile, the only voices that matter are the ones under the water, the ones closed in by nets in a place they won't be in long, a place called "The Cove."
Rent "The Cove" at Netflix or Blockbuster Video