The Cove: Brutal and Unnecessary Murder

For part of my essay research, I watched the 2009 documentary film The Cove which proved to be extremely useful but also extremely compelling as well. It is about the brutal and merciless slaughtering of dolphins in the small Japanese coastal town of Taiji where each year between September and May, local fisherman drive pods of dolphins into a small cove before murdering them. Some of the dolphins are selected by dolphin trainers from around the world and are sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds. The remaining ones are then slaughtered and their meat labelled as being whale which is then sold to unaware people despite containing toxic levels of mercury.

This film has had such a massive impact on me as I am incredibly passionate about the welfare of marine life which has always been an integral part of my life. On the way to Spain for our annual holiday , I used to spend hours on the deck of the ship ‘The Pride of Bilbao’ scanning the waters of the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay for any signs of whales and dolphins and listen intently to the talks the onboard research team used to give. I was also given the opportunity to spend the day alongside the ‘Biscay Dolphin Research Programme’ team with Amanda Hyam, recording any sightings like the large pod of common dolphins. This contributed heavily to my aspirations to work with this mammals in the

Courtesy of Land of Planty

future which is why The Cove has had such an effect on what I want to do in the future.

During the mass slaughter of around 20,000 dolphins per season, fisherman heartlessly kill them apparently without remorse. They separate the mothers from the calfs and let them see as they are murdered. One moment in particular that stands out in my mind is when a single dolphin is clearly trying to get away and is swimming frantically across the nets trapping it. There is a huge laceration down its side which is really visible when it uses the last of its energy to force itself out of the water. It then disappears under the water dead.

To see the japanese fishermen killing these creatures without seeming to care is something I find really difficult to understand, especially when they are calling it “pest control” and act as though it is their right to have the fish in the ocean. It’s not. From the moment they arrived in Taiji, the crew of dolphin activists and filmmakers were followed by the sheriff and officers who clearly didn’t want people to find out about the brutalities.  They also had to sneakily and strategically set up cameras described as rocks and plant hydrophones and cameras under the water to capture the the horror of the cove at night when less people were there to stop them. To me, if they are so protective over the secret of the cove and have to stop the media from getting wind of it then something really needs to be done to ensure that more and more people become aware of it. Yes The Cove seems to have publicised this tragic issue well with protests and petitions now taking place but I think that in order to provoke more action to be taken then there needs to be an ongoing stream of exposure.

This documentary has made me realise that I don’t just want to make documentaries about the wildlife of the world, I want to make programmes that will make people think about issues like this and provoke a response that will help put an end to this unnecessary murder. Please sign this petition to help the dolphins that are suffering without reason


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