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84 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Secret Slaughter: Today's "Silent Spring", February 18, 2010
This review is from: The Cove (DVD)
About 3/4 of the way through THE COVE, I nearly turned it off. Not because it was a bad film, but because it was almost too painful to keep watching. I grew up, like many my age, watching the hit TV show, Flipper. It was a great adventure going along with Bud, Sandy, their dad and, of course, Flipper the dolphin. I used to pretend to swim with him (Flipper) and thought it would be the coolest thing to be able to feed and play with a dolphin. So it was doubly troubling to see Ric O'Barry (the man who helped capture and train Flipper) as the centerpiece for this film. After watching the original Flipper die in captivity, Ric learned a hard lesson: that creatures with this kind of intelligence should never be kept in captivity, nor should they be harmed.

Fast forward to today, and we find Ric in Taijii, Japan near a small cove where, every September, the unthinkable happens. A mass slaughter of hundreds or even thousands of dolphins turns the water (literally) red. The local government and fisherman don't want anyone to see this event, nor even get too close to the cove. Ric and his friends, who simply try to film here, are harassed, pushed away (physically) or arrested on "pending" charges. So, in order to get the footage they need, Ric and friends hire specialized cameras and camera operators to hide digital recorders around the cove (including an underwater microphone) so that this atrocity can be witnessed.

They go in like a Navy Seal team, with night-vision and under the cover of darkness. It is an act of incredibly risk because it has become all too apparent that the locals will do anything (including act violently) to protect their secret slaughter. When the recordings come back, and we get to see them, it is to even put it into justifiable words's so painful to watch that I actually got choked up. There's no music playing; nothing to add to the pulling of your heartstrings. The repeated stabbing of the dolphins is ...beyond cruel. They literally bleed to death. But if it weren't tough enough watching that, we get to see the response of the other dolphins while they await their turn. A baby dolphin, probably no more than two feet long, tries to jump out of the water in order to save itself, only to fall back into the red sea and be slashed across the throat. It is this brutal act that will stun most viewers and will undoubtedly spur some into action against Japan's ocean policies.

Not surprising, Japan has been battling to keep it's commercial whaling and fisheries open. And in these tough economic times, it has even found friends in the IWC (International Whaling Commission).

The great thing about the film is that it isn't anti-fishing. It simply asks that this type of senseless slaughter stop. No one eats dolphin (knowingly), and most shouldn't because of the high levels of mercury present in the meat (even sushi-grade tuna has high levels). So why does this slaughter happen? The real answer is individuality and not wanting to be told what to do by outsiders. A few of the dolphins are singled out for "saving." They'll become trained dolphins at Seaworld and the like. But the rest become additive fish meat wrapped in plastic in the fresh fish section.

The only downside to the film is that it doesn't address what would happen to the small city of Taijii if the dolphin slaughter were stopped. Would the city survive? What would happen to the fisherman who's livelihood relies on this? If those who really want to affect change are interested in procuring that change, they should make a plan that involves the Taijii fisherman and their future livelihoods if the dolphin slaughter were halted. That would be a great way to succeed in stopping this annual "event."

Still, this story was amazingly told and was so tough to watch, that it will linger with me for a very long time.
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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 25, 2010 6:36:59 AM PST
Great review. I am impressed with your concern for the Taijii residents fate if the dolphin trade was ended. Yes, it is important to offer an alternative to their current livelihood as an incentive. I haven't seen the movie yet. I wanted to read the comments from viewers first.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2010 7:30:29 AM PST
B. Merritt says:
Thanks. It's really a fascinating and heartbreaking film. Tough to get the images out of your head once you watch it.

Posted on Mar 13, 2010 9:31:21 AM PST
Your comments were well articulated and I agree with everything you said except for one. Sea World and and other American sea shows do NOT get their dolphins from outside places. They raise their own and have been doing so for years!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2010 3:51:04 PM PST
B. Merritt says:
Thanks for pointing that out.

Posted on Mar 15, 2010 4:22:28 AM PDT
P. Smith says:
Dolphins use a language, blow bubbles and make rings out of them, make them bigger toss them around, play and laugh at us, they will admire themselves in a mirror and save a human from drowning. Did you hear their screams as they were being slaughtered? Asians have no trouble eating cats and dogs either. These are highly intelligent mammals who recognize their own young after they grow up. I can't hardly believe how cruel they are. Let them raise more Kobe beef it sells for higher prices and leave the whales and dolphins, horses, cats and dogs alone. To me this is like cannibalism.

Posted on May 9, 2010 9:02:53 PM PDT
Yogi D says:
P.Smith - true, what you said about dolphins, whales, horses, dogs, cats, etc. Surely, if intelligence were the only criterion for not killing creatures, people would not cause cows or pigs to be killed either, or most any other species. Read this excellent book "Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows" by Melanie Joy to find out more about 'carnism' and why these other creatures should not be killed either.

Posted on May 24, 2010 8:59:49 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Sep 13, 2011 5:55:26 AM PDT]

Posted on Aug 31, 2010 12:39:59 PM PDT
W. Liu says:
I too could not watch it at once, needed to stop the machine and digest and then went on.
I'm speechless after watching this film, it was much more than just Japanese killing dolphins! What we, human has done to the environment and outselves is a bad wakeup call I hope, after watching this movie. The ignorance is hard to swallow just watching interviews of the government people.
Rick has offered the fishermen the same amount of money for selling dolphin meat, but they replied it's not about the money.

today is the last day of august in north america, it is September 1st in Asia. Last day for more than 23,000 dolphins at the cove. Breaks my heart.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2010 11:27:59 AM PDT
True. However it is pointed out in the film (and I did additional research) that captive dolphins perform becuse they are hungry - pure and simple. There is still the moral delimma about captive-bred dolphins performing for food.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2010 11:28:50 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Nov 6, 2010 11:30:24 AM PDT]
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