Friday, August 14, 2009


Wow. Has this been the summer of animal cruelty or what? First there was Food, Inc. (which was not in itself violent but led to me watching the preview of Earthlings which was, well, scarring), and then last night I went with my dear Matty to see The Cove, the preview of which I first saw before Food, Inc.

Truth be told, when I saw the preview, I wasn't entirely sure what the premise was. I knew there was some controversy about dolphins and Japan, but I didn't know any specifics. After doing a little research, I discovered that the town of Taiji, Japan harbors a deep and very, VERY dark secret. Because the fishermen in Taiji engage in the massive slaughtering of thousands upon thousands of dolphins every single year, and no one seems to know anything about it. No, not even the Japanese.

Apparently this all began with the creation of Flipper. Once people discovered how much money they could make training dolphins for show, it was all over. Most of the dolphins you see at Sea World or aquariums, held in captivity, are from Taiji. Basically the fishermen use sound techniques to scare the dolphins into this area along the coast of Taiji. They then close off the area and dolphin trainers come and choose the ones to buy/sell (aka the Flipper look-alikes). As for the rest of them, they are herded into a small hidden cove where they are, I kid you not, slaughtered in one big giant pool of red. It's horrifying and unbelievable. I didn't actually think they'd get live footage of the slaughter, but they did. And oh my god, oh my god, I couldn't believe my eyes.

Because here's the thing - we Americans do the same. We slaughter all kinds of animals in inhumane, awful ways. But our excuse has always typically been food. Cows, pigs... this is their fate. But dolphins? Dolphins are the sea equivalent of dogs, everybody loves 'em! They "smile" and do fun tricks and protect you from sharks and all that good stuff. Right? So HOW on earth could Americans stand for this massacre of dolphins that occurs every year in September in this small coast town of Taiji?? Because they don't know, well, they didn't know, that is until this film.

Things I learned from The Cove that I didn't previously know:

- The dolphins being held in captivity at aquariums/Sea World/etc. are fed all kinds of medication (sound familiar?) to treat/prevent ulcers. Why? Because to the massive amounts of stress these dolphins feel (due to their captivity), they develop ulcers. More often than not, these dolphins die from the stress. Can you imagine dying from stress??

- Dolphins are self-aware creatures. Just. like. us.

- The dolphin that played the first Flipper essentially committed suicide. Because she was depressed and stressed.

- Japanese people do not consider eating dolphin meat to be normal and/or okay. Plus? The toxicity in dolphins is unbelievably high so eating it is extremely dangerous.

- If the fish trade continues at the current rate, in 40 years, there will be no fish left.

- Money really is the root of most evil.

- Dolphins are not smiling.

I urge you and everyone else to go see The Cove. It's *SO* well done, really plays out like a suspenseful Bourne Identity-esque thriller, but it's 100% authentic. Is it difficult to watch? Sure. There are some very sad and painful scenes. But believe me, you've seen worse on the movie screen so you can deal with this one. The point is, the film is chock full of truth. And it sends a message that unless we do something, this will continue happening. The world organizations aimed at preventing these kinds of horrors aren't doing a damn thing. It's totally up to us.

I have never been an animal activist, but films like this are quickly changing that. The veil has been lifted, just as it was in Food, Inc., and I'm so shaken up that I'm not sure what to do. I'm struggling to understand my feelings, process this information, and figure out just what I can do to make a difference. Please go see The Cove. I've said it before and I'll say it until I'm blue in the face, ignorance is not bliss.

I've decided to do another giveaway, and this time I'm giving away 2 tickets to The Cove. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post, and I'll randomly select a winner on Sunday evening. Good luck.


Melita said...

i can't wait to see this. i saw the preview and teared up!

Kirsten said...

I'd love to see it. I'm a little nervous about seeing it - but I know that I will.

Thanks for such a great review.

shannon said...

that just doesn't make any sense (like animal cruelty ever makes sense). what is the point of slaughtering the ones not picked to sell? why not just let them go? i'll never understand people.

Kiki said...

That is absolutely shocking - I had no idea whatsoever. What an education!

Ellecubed said...

Thank you for sharing and opening my eyes to this situation Carolyn. I had no idea that this type of thing was happening. I think I am going to go and see it tomorrow as part of my artist date.

the said...

wow, thank you so much for this personal and heartfelt post. i've seen those same movies! about two years ago, i was compelled to do something to help animals. i had always loved and appreciated them, but the most i'd ever done was to rescue dogs. i started rescuing more and more dogs, and couldn't keep up. it was this thing of trying to save them all but you never can. and there are the countless other millions of animals killed each day.

for me the best thing i could do was to stop eating anything made from animals. so i started a vegan lifestyle two years ago and immediately i found that my whole being was more spiritual and more compassionate. what i realized was that i was finally in alignment with my values. because i'd never hurt an animal ever, but for so many years, and because of societal conditioning, i didn't think of the the things i was eating as living creatures. at first, i looked at like i was saving about 100 animals a year by going vegan. but now i don't even think of it that way. it's more like being spiritually connected to all of my fellow creatures.

here are a couple of links connected to the cove:

save japan dolphins on facebook

i have probably gone on way too long! if you want to write to me, you can reach me at the cove movie at gmail dot com.

sincerely, rene

los angeles

Sara Avant Stover said...

this is a great, post carolyn. thanks for spreading the word in such an eloquent and informative way!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, thoughtful and heartfelt post...!

Pink Heels said...

I have known about the cruelty to dolphins for several years. Whenever I travel to warm locations for the holidays, I NEVER participate in the "dolphin encounter" experience and I ALWAYS use it as an opportunity to educate others about what they are promoting by signing up for it. I even refuse to visit zoos. Afterall, what African lion would live in the dead of winter in Washingoton, D.C., confined to a small 'natural' setting when it could be in the open of its natural habitat?

Caitlin said...

Did they mention in the film what we can do to help?

Carolyn said...

Caitlin - The film does say what you can do to help, and if you follow the link to The Cove's website, they list things there, too!