Last week’s documentary was shocking to say the least. I knew about the controversy behind keeping dolphins in captivity, though I had never really taken the time to look into the details. The cruelty of keeping animals in small confined spaces was a topic that I was well aware of, but I didn’t know that dolphins were so sensitive to sound. Learning this, and then realizing how painful it must be for them to be surrounded by so many loud noises on a day to day basis was really eye opening. I never considered that being exposed to cheering crowds and shouting and clapping would be so harmful to an animal, but it’s obvious that that alone is enough to really hurt them.
I really felt a strong sense of empathy for Rick O’Berry and his reasons for becoming so involved in the activist movement for dolphins. When I was younger, my mom really loved exposing my siblings and I to the TV shows that she grew up with, and I remember watching Flipper (we have the DVD box set). The show was really cheesy and there was a lot of dialogue that fell under the “Golly gee whiz, mister,” category, but it was charming and cute and I remember really liking Flipper the dolphin. The story that O’Berry told about Flipper’s ‘suicide’ really struck me. As was mentioned in the documentary, Flipper’s apparent happiness was blinding when it came to understanding what the dolphins must really be feeling. I had no idea that an animal in captivity could feel that level of depression, and it’s particularly shocking coming from an animal that always appears to be smiling.
But the slaughtering was definitely the most difficult thing to wrap my head around. Considering how virtually useless dolphin meat is, it’s ridiculous to me that that number of dolphins needs to be killed on a yearly basis. Hunting them for captivity, while still extremely morally ambiguous, at least has an economic purpose. The money that can be made off of dead dolphins is hardly worth the bloodshed, and the method of slaughtering is cruel and far from painless.
Seeing as the slaughtering is still going on, I’m not sure what we can do to stop it. And as long as places like Sea World are still making money, there’s no real say in whether or not the problem will go away soon, and I’m not sure which problem (the captivity issue or the slaughtering issue) has the more feasible solution. But it’s good that documentaries like the cove exist, because it exposes people to these issues and it at least gets them thinking about it on some level. Hopefully, enough people can get involved and we can find a way to at least lessen the problem.