THE COVE: Help Save Japan’s Dolphins

Horrific, brutal and mindboggling. Three words that would aptly sum up the capture of dolphins for the global entertainment industry, and the slaughter of the ones left over, in a heavily guarded secret cove in Taiji, Japan.  Louis Psihoyos, the director and Richard O’Barry, the world’s most famous dolphin trainer have heroically portrayed the tragedy in the eco-thriller movie “THE COVE.”

The Cove Image DiverKudos to Golden Village, Singapore for premiering yesterday, yet another eye-opening movie after Food Inc. inviting ACRES Director,  Anbarasi Boopal, in a dialogue session to share her views and suggestions for action.

“THE COVE” won the Audience Award at the Sundance film festival, the largest annual film festival for independent US and international films. It takes place in Utah, US.  Click here to read a review of the movie.

 Let me highlight the main issues as portrayed by ”THE COVE:”

What’s wrong with killing dolphins?

Dolphins are highly intelligent and self-aware mammals, much like humans who are conscious of what is happening to them, so it’s difficult to justify any kind of killing of these creatures, especially so where there is so much pain inflicted. They are highly social creatures, and travel about 40km a day in the wild, and are extremely stressed and unsuited for captivity in the entertainment industry.

They are also very sensitive to sound, which makes the capture methods used in Taiji of banging plates from boats an effective but distressing way to corner them. The dolphins who have nowhere to escape are then brutally poked.

It’s hard for one not to be moved, as you see these gentle creatures writhing in a pool of blood, desperately splashing the water with their fins in the agony of their final moments.
Why are the dolphins being captured/killed?

A dolphin sold to the entertainment industry fetches about $150,000, and this is the main economic driver for the capture. Taiji is the world’s largest supplier of porpoises.  Dolphin meat earns about $600 per dolphin and about 23,000 dolphins are killed in Taiji cove alone.

The fishermen are led to believe by the government that if they don’t kill the dolphins, the already diminishing fisheries stock will be consumed by the dolphins (and marine creatures in the higher rungs of the food chain).

The dolphin meat, which incidentally contains very high mercury levels is passed off  as whale meat without the knowledge of the Japanese public, threatening to cause a public disaster, like the Minamata disease induced by mercury contamination in the 1950s.

Enter a toothless International Whaling Commission (IWC), which does little by way of protecting lower cetaceans like dolphins.

What can we do?

Anbarasi Boopal The Cove Premiere



Anbarasi Boopal gave a few suggestions for urgent action.  As she said, we have to act now, to prevent the next round of slaughter that is going to start in September.




@ Sign the petition “HELP SAVE JAPAN’S DOLPHINS”  and please rush in those signatures

@ Write to the ambassador of Japan in your country appealing to stop the slaughter or Taiji dolphins

@ Enjoy natural ways of watching dolphins, such as in the wild

@  Write to your government to ban marine mammals in captivity, the way Brazil has done.

@  Join Richard O’Barry’s Facebook group SavetheDolphins.org 

@ Visit the ACRES website to learn more about animal welfare activism

And yes, Watch the movie! Please do. Connect with these magnificent creatures. Feel their pain. Realise that we need not sit idle.  As Louis Psihoyos states, “You’re either an activist or an inactivist.”  It’s your choice.


We need to support environmental activism movies like these in mainstream cinema. THE COVE, with its excellent cinematic production, and brilliant undercover operation in a heavily guarded enclave, has all the elements that would beat a Bond thriller anyday. The movie itself is indeed an act of heroism.

And all for a great cause!

The movie may come across as anti-Japanese, but unfortunately, such is the context. We are all to share the blame, especially if we continue to enjoy a dolphin jump through a hoop or bounce a ball in a show pool.

We must also not forget that millions of Taijis are happening the world over, with other creatures, especially those mindlessly slaughtered for industrial meat and leather.  Let’s continue our support in many other ways for the voiceless and defenceless creatures of the world.


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Posted by on Aug 26 2009. Filed under Animals/Wildlife, Green Activism, Water/Marine Life, Wildlife. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “THE COVE: Help Save Japan’s Dolphins”

  1. The information here is great. I will invite my friends here.


  2. Thank you for stopping by and glad to be of help. Look forward to seeing you again :)

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