Although The Cove premiered in 2009, I hadn’t heard of this documentary until I watched the more recent documentary Blackfish. Growing up in Orlando, close to Sea World, Blackfish hit home. But I didn’t know how The Cove would impact me. I wasn’t sure if it would strike as deep a chord as Blackfish did, or if it would be more like a PETA video- something that exists purely for shock value, when it feels like there is very little we can actually do to stop it. I was very surprised by how The Cove turned out. I thought it was incredibly well made and it was not at all what I was expecting. It was graphic near the end, but appropriately so.
Although this slaughter is happening in an entirely different country, watching this film made me feel as if it could be happening here. The passion that was put into this film resonated with me as I’m sure it did with many others, and it successfully bridged the gap between us as viewers and the actual events happening in Taiji.
A few things about the documentary stood out to me. The most emotional part of the film, for me, was the scene in which the one dolphin had escaped the nets and was coming toward shore, after being harpooned. What made this so upsetting was not just the emotional element of an animal struggling to live, but the fact that the japanese fisherman were laughing, lightheartedly, directly after the filmmakers had witnessed this dolphin’s horrible end. It really made me realize who these fisherman truly are, at their core.
On another note, I had a slight problem with the human, dolphin connections that the filmmakers were making. Although I do believe in having a deep connection with animals, especially intelligent animals such as dolphins and whales, I don’t always believe that dolphins purposefully save human lives or seek out connections with us. I have a problem every time a documentary or organization tries to justify saving a species because of how closely that animal can connect or relate to us on a human level. All animals, all life, are equal on this earth. To say, “dolphins are so much like us, we need to save them”, seems irrelevant to me. Dolphins and humans have certain similarities without a doubt, and I definitely believe that they can form personal connections with people, just like other animals can, but more importantly they are dolphins, who form connections with each other and play a vital role in the ecosystem of the ocean and that alone should be enough. Whether they are self aware or not- that shouldn’t determine whether this type of capture and slaughter should continue. What is wild should remain wild, and when there are no benefits at all to hunting that animal for human consumption, there is absolutely no excuse.
After the documentary concluded I felt a lingering sense of hope, but I immediately wondered what the last four years had shown as a result of this film. It has certainly raised an enormous public outcry, but apparently not enough to stop the slaughter from happening. Even as I type this, dolphins are being hunted in Taiji, as they are every year from September to March. And I honestly can’t think of anything sadder than that.
However, I believe that in the grand scope of things, four years is a very short period of time. The Cove was the beginning of the end. As long as it is not looked upon as an “oh we tried to stop that once, but they didn’t listen” situation, I believe that the slaughter can be stopped, but we must be relentless. At the very least, we must continue to boycott places that take animals into captivity from the wild.
Here are a couple photos of one of the results of Taiji’s most recent dolphin hunt:
In January 2014 a rare baby albino dolphin was captured and sold into captivity, while the majority of her pod was slaughtered.
The albino dolphin calf, in her life of captivity.