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.