I’ve been avoiding The Cove — the Oscar-winning documentary about Japan’s dolphin slaughter.
I’ve been avoiding the film because I knew it would be disturbing. While researching the Japanese whaling industry for The Tourist Trail years ago, I learned about what happens off the coast of Japan. I had seen video clips, and those were enough to turn my stomach.
Last night, The Cove was on TV and I ended up watching most of it. It’s hard to put into words the feelings that go through you when you watch dolphins treated that way. I alternated between anger and tears. Now I’m just angry.
The film wasn’t just about dolphins. It was about all cetaceans. Paul Watson of The Sea Shepherd Society was featured. He’s been doing battle with Japan for decades.
When I began this blog I asked: Why doesn’t Japan just stop killing whales?
The same question could be posed for dolphins.
Japan is in a sad state of denial about its past and its future. The world has changed. The oceans are depleted. And Japan wants to pretend that its “way of life” — a way of life that is overly romanticized — will continue forever.
We do the same thing here in the US. We romantize fisherman. But we overlook the brutal fact that the fishing industry is an industry. Machines do most of the heavy lifting. And machines are too efficient and there are too many of them. The fish, the dolphins, the whales. They can’t reproduce quickly enough to compete with the machine. They never stood a chance.
The sea needs a break.
What is most sad about the dolphin slaughter is that these are animals that, by most measures, everybody loves. The Cove is the tip of the iceberg because there are so many other species at risk — species that aren’t quite so loved. The Northern Bluefin Tuna. The Silver Shark. Orange Roughie. Swordfish. When will they get their documentary? Or will they just fade away?
We all have a role to play. I know what I’ve got to do. And Ric O’Barry, the man behind The Cove, isn’t about to give up. Blood Dolphins is a new TV series that keeps up the pressure on Japan. Hopefully, sustained pressure will convince Japan to give up.
And then we will turn our fight to the next species.