The Cove dolphin documentary

B heard about a documentary called The Cove on NPR recently and sent it to me. It's in the same vein as Whale Wars, but focuses on the annual trapping and killing of dolphins in Japan. I can't believe there's something as appalling as this happening and it's been kept so under wraps.

The movie works to expose the killing of thousands of dolphins in a small town in Japan called Taiji. Fishermen there corral and capture dolphins during an annual hunting season that goes from Sept. to March. The best of the captured dolphins are sold off to aquariums and marinas for a high price (up to $150,000), and the rest - about 2,000 dolphins a year - are slaughtered, "often ending up as food for human consumption, despite high mercury levels."

Taiji's fishing community keeps the cove where all this happens closely guarded and the film crew was banned from recording anything around the premises. Therefore, spy-like tactics were employed to get the footage. Cameras hidden in fake aquatic rocks (created by George Lucas' studio nonetheless), camouflage, experienced divers - this was no normal movie shoot. The film crew called themselves "an Ocean's Eleven-style team." Diver Mandy-Rae Cruikshank used her underwater-breathing techniques so she could plant the underwater cameras (she's the one in the photo above). One of the saddest scenes I read about came from one of her experiences: "Weeks before the mission, we see her watch a bleeding dolphin that somehow escaped the cove as it fights the tide and slowly expires in the waves; as she weeps, Taiji fishermen point at her and laugh."

The movie won the Audience Award at the Sundance Festival and at several other festivals. Here's a trailer for the documentary:

The movie's website has information about where it's playing (sadly not in Annapolis - hopefully it will be out on DVD soon) and more info on how you can get involved. Please do share this story with your friends - I'm just so saddened to read about this continual slaughtering of dolphins and whales in Japan.

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