Friday, September 25, 2009

The Cove (Rhoades)

“The Cove” Will Leave You Shocked and Angry

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Years ago I used to be addicted to those “Mondo Cane” style documentaries. A sociological tour of bizarre customs around the world. There were dozens of them, each movie more shocking than the one before.

Strange delicacies. Odd rituals. Piles of skulls. Fingers severed by Asian gangs. Bulls decapitated. Species decimated. And buckets of blood. Watching these films was akin to the can’t-turn-your-eyes-away fascination you experience when passing the scene of an accident.

Today, I cannot understand how I endured these disturbing films. But some uncomfortable documentaries need to be seen.

“The Cove” – currently playing at the Tropic Cinema – is one such film.

National Geographic photographer Louis Psihoyos was determined to expose the slaughter of thousands of dolphins each year in a cove near Taiji, a small town in Wakayama, Japan.
Taiji is considered the birthplace of Japan’s traditional whaling industry. It’s also the site of dolphin drive hunting, a method of herding these mammals onto the beach with boats. There they are slaughtered in a vicious fashion for their meat.

Keep in mind, dolphins are among the most intelligent animals on the planet. Their brains are actually larger than humans’.

In terms of brain size to body weight, dolphins hold up well. They have an Encephalization Quotient (EQ) of 4 to 5, compared to humans at 6.5 to 7.5. And they can learn to understand complicated language-like commands (which is also true of the great apes).

Their cuddly appearance and friendly attitude have made them as popular to most people as teddy bears.

Dolphins also display culture, something long believed to be unique to humans and certain primates.

The Greek sage Plutarch observed: “To the dolphin alone, beyond all other, nature has granted what the best philosophers seek: friendship for no advantage.”

So it was with this viewpoint that Psihoyos took his film crew to Japan.
Getting the facts wasn’t easy. The hunters would stop at nothing to prevent an exposÈ of their practices. The film’s tagline says it well: “Shallow Water. Deep Secret.”

In this remote cove, surrounded by barbed wire and “Keep Out” signs, the fishermen of Taiji engage in an unseen hunt under cover of night. Driven by the lucrative dolphin entertainment industry and a market for mercury-tainted dolphin meat, they capture and kill these gentle mammals in the most brutal manner.

Joined by the Ocean Preservation Society and former dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry (TV’s “Flipper”), Psihoyos launched his undercover operation to photograph this off-limits cove. Assembling an “Oceans Eleven-style team of underwater sound and camera experts, special effects artists, marine explorers, adrenaline junkies and world-class free divers,” he used underwater microphones and high-definition cameras disguised as rocks to get the story. The result of this covert filmmaking unfolds like a gripping eco-adventure thriller.

You will be shocked by what you see. And as angry as a card-carrying PETA member.

Unlike those old “Mondo Cane” movies, this documentary is not intended to entertain or amaze. It’s a call to action that should be heeded. Here is a Rwanda-style “genocide” taking place in the sea.

What can you do? Sign the Facebook petition protesting this carnage at I did.
[from Solares Hill]

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