Entertained, Appalled and Enthralled by ‘The Cove’

I just went to a screening of The Cove tonight and was absolutely blown away.

Following a group of activists who go to Japan to record the annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, the story is part documentary, part thriller. The team schemes and plans, disguising cameras as rocks, trespassing in a dangerous areas and using military technology they had to sneak into the country all while having to evade the local police and hostile fishermen.

The Cove is at once disturbing and inspiring, exposing the horrific dolphin slaughter while showing how far passionate people will really go for their cause. And though I went into the film thinking it would be difficult to watch, it keeps you engaged with the Ocean’s Eleven-like plot and informed with the back story, and it doesn’t feel exploitative when the more gruesome scenes come up.

The facts revealed are also shocking. In Taiji, after they herd the dolphins to the cove and let various dolphin trainers have their pick — purchasing animals at about $150,000 apiece — they then slaughter the rest. Though these fishermen claim dolphin hunting is a tradition in Japan, most Japanese people don’t know this is going on and don’t want to eat dolphin, so the meat is often labeled as other types of whale. The most mind-boggling part of the whole story is that dolphin meat has toxic levels of mercury, well beyond international safety standards, yet it’s still being sold.

The film hits both animal lovers and pragmatists, balancing the outrage at the 23,000 dolphins killed each year with facts about Mercury poisoning. Dolphin captivity is also on the agenda. Ric O’Barry, the former Flipper trainer turned dolphin activist and one of the ringleaders of this project, forces you to look critically at dolphin shows and attractions — and where those dolphins are coming from.

The Cove is a powerful film that will make you want to take action and I highly recommend it. It comes out on July 31 in New York and LA. Check here to see if it’s coming to a theater near you.

P.S. Stay until the end to see what happens with the blimp

The COVE OPS Team and some of their rather conspicuous looking spy equipment

The Cove OPS Team and some of their rather conspicuous looking spy equipment

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