Review of The Cove

Review of The Cove directed by Loui Psihoyos
Rating *****

I thought this was an exceptional documentary from start to finish. The film is about the slaughtering of dolphins in Taiji, Japan and the efforts by a group of animal rights activists to document the slaughter. The film also touches on a number of other important topics such as over fishing, marine ecology, the International Whale Commission (IWC), and the environmental impact that humans are having on the mercury levels of fish.

Much of the film revolves around Richard O'Barry, who spent ten years of his life as an animal trainer on the 1960s show Flipper. O'Barry wasn't just an animal trainer on the show; he personally caught the five dolphins used on the television show and lived with the dolphins that he trained. Towards the end of the show he came to realize that these were intelligent mammals that did not deserve to be kept in captivity. He has spent the last thirty-five years trying to reverse the trend that he set in motion.

I have to admit that I've been to Sea World and I've enjoyed watching the dolphins perform. They looked, to me. as though they were enjoying themselves. But O'Barry points out that the dolphins live a stressed life due to the enclosures and numerous sounds that aren't natural to them. The film points out that a dolphin like the one on the TV show flipper can fetch up to $150,000. These dolphins are shipped to aquariums and resort areas all over the world. The other dolphins that are hoarded into the cove in Taiji are killed. The dead dolphins fetch only $700. The meat is sold to unsuspecting consumers in Japan. The meat is tainted with mercury levels so high that it would be banned from human consumption if properly identified.

The film points out a lot of important statistics about the numbers of dolphins and whales killed by Japanese fisherman. One statistic that stood out was that there is so much over fishing going on that there is a possibility that a very large portion of the consumable fish stock could be gone in just forty years.

I'm not trying to bash Japan, but they're creating a very large problem that affects all of us. The Japanese officials point out that we slaughter and eat cows, so how can we criticize them? They have a point. But I'm not sure that anyone has claimed that cows have a high level of intelligence and have a social conscious and awareness. Still, the beef industry has come under attack for the inhumane treatment of cattle. The same can be said about pork and poultry.

The bottom line is that we have to find a balance. I love my steaks, pork, and chicken. I have Talapia, Salmon, or Mahi Mahi at least once a week. But I'm not sure if I want to continue eating these foods knowing what I know about animal feed, the inhumane treatment of animals on industrialized farms, stress hormones, growth hormones, pesticides, and dangerous levels of mercury in fish.

The better educated people are on the problems the more likelihood we will see positive changes. You can find out more about the film at www.thecovemovie.com.

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