Select the search type
  • Site
  • Web


Published on Wednesday, December 27, 2017

’The Cove’ Nine Years Later


’The Cove’ Nine Years Later

In 2009, a spectacular documentary film about the small village of Taiji located in the Wakayama Prefecture and some 400 miles outside of Tokyo, Japan uncovered a startling generational practice that many Westerners were unaware of: its annual rounding up and killing of dolphins.

The Cove came to light by way of filmmaker Louis Psihoyos. Partnering with former dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry and the Ocean Preservation Society, the team set out to create an expose documentary that showed what appears to be inhumane practices in the brutal hunting and killing of dolphins. When the film debuted, animal rights activists and concerned citizens were outraged at its gruesome and often unsettling acts of slaughter. In fact, the film sparked so much international tension and ultimately conversations that two counter-documentaries debuted in 2016 in hopes that it would help outsiders understand the practice as deeply ancestral in origin and not brutal in ruthless fashion.

Consequently, the film shined a light on a community of tight-knit fishermen who had practiced the sport for survival, passed down from generations past and viewed the hunt as a livelihood to a humble community. As told by many locals, the people of Taiji were not looking to bring attention to their otherwise remote destination, but attention along with condemnation did in fact ensue. Nine years have passed since the movie took home an Academy Award for Best Documentary Film. As we look back and reflect on what it exposed as well as what things are like today, some surprising truths were revealed.

About the Film

Without spoiling the entire film, its premise focuses on the seemingly cruel depiction of seasonal hunting of both dolphins and whales as Japan is touted as a pro-whale hunting nation. As many have to come to understand, dolphins are relational creatures, relying on sounds to communicate to one another. During hunting season, fishermen in Taiji bang loudly against their boats, confusing the animals and ultimately luring them into a cove where they are trapped and slaughtered. As many as 23,000 dolphins are allegedly speared to death each year literally turning the tides crimson, the bloody waters surrounding the village of Taiji. Throughout the film, chuckles are heard before a non-immediate death to what many Westerners have come to know dolphins as: intelligent, gentle creatures whose compassionate and jovial dispositions make them a favorite among animal lovers.

Critics would go on to argue that the film does little more than add shock value to an already open secret. After all, livestock are subjected to a similar fate, often slaughtered in despicable ways in an industry that profits billions of dollars and contributes significantly to the world’s GDP. So, why all of the fuss for dolphins?

It is precisely this reason that Japanese and other proponents of the practice argue. Viewing the sport from face value demeans the real role behind the age old tradition. Historical heritage dating back some 400 years tells us that the tradition was carried out as dolphins and whales were a reliable source of food and commodity. During the days before modern refrigeration, harsh weather often meant hunting would cease. To maintain an ample food supply, whales and dolphins were killed then preserved with salt for people to feast on for months at a time. To ensure the survival of the townspeople, the mammal’s meat was not only used for food, but sometimes the animals were kept alive and trained then sold to circuses or other live show associations whereby people paid money to watch the creatures ‘in action.’ Valuing silence over argument, the Taiji fishermen who participate in the hunting practice finally broke their silence years after the film and addressed the media standing firmly by and even defending their tradition.

One of the fishermen argued, “just look around you….if we didn’t make a living from the sea, there would be nothing left. People keep telling us to stop whaling and find another way to earn a living. But what on earth would we do instead?” The hunt is annually practiced from September through April each year.

Where Do We Go From Here

While there have been some interactions between the locals of Taiji and activists, much is left to be resolved. Taiji insists that their practices have changed as influenced by the film. Fishermen insist that they now use a more humane style of killing, ensuring that the suffering of dolphins is lessened. For some, this isn’t enough and while uncomfortable with the constant glare of the world, the town has also relented and allowed continual filming of their hunting practices. In response, activists and other groups argue that in a world where alternatives abound there is no reason to carry on with such routine brutality. Each autumn season, activists descend onto the tiny town in protest while Taiji people are quick to defend against the practice and also highlight what they say is a much broader issue: globalism vs. localism.

For more information about the Taiji people and how this important documentary has changed their lives, have a look at the recent The Guardian article where the Taiji defend and explain their practice in greater detail.
Rate this article:
No rating
Comments ()Number of views (145)

Author: AThompson

Categories: Blogs, Animals & Wildlife



Search Jobs


«January 2018»

Climate Change & The Poor: A Toxic Relationship

The impacts of climate change are undoubtedly affecting the world on a global scale. However, its effects are far more pronounced among the poor.

Read more

Pre-Historic Ticks

Ticks are some of the most aggravating parasites today but they've been around for millions of years - even long enough to feed on the blood of dinosaurs.

Read more

'The Cove' Nine Years Later

You may remember the uproar surrounding The Cove almost a decade ago. Today, the fishing community at the heart of the film has finally spoken up. 

Read more

Saving A Life

Watch this amazing footage of the rescue of a drowned puppy and the ingenuity, persistence, and passion of the man who saved it.

Read more

Winter Enviro-friendly Tips

This is the time of year for family, food, and holiday cheer. But it's also the season that produces the most waste. Here's how to get green over the holidays.

Read more

A Mesmerizing Flock

Have a look at this visually hypnotizing footage of one of nature's most arresting phenomenons - the flight of the flock of starlings. A gorgeous sight to behold!

Read more

The Controversy of Fracking

Fracking is in fact dangerous. Recent study proves that infants in areas surrounding fracking sites may suffer from permanent health effects and growth problems.

Read more

An Unobstructed Look Inside The Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA has long stood as one of the most powerful defenders of the health and safety of the environment and safety standards. A lot has changed. 

Read more

Master of Deception

Few living species can match the powers of deception and stealth quite like the amazing Zodrian spider - known for wearing the carcasses of their victims.

Read more

The Digital Impact: Bitcoin's Carbon Footprint

Bitcoin is becoming one of the most quickly growing cryptocurrencies today. But this new form of payment is more costly for the environment than you may think. 

Read more

Animals That Fit On Your Finger

There are few things as adorable and heartwarming as pint-sized pets. Here are just some of the most popular ones available today.

Read more

Amazing Fungus Breaks Down Plastic Within a Few Weeks

No doubt about it, plastics are amazing. But they're also particularly bad for the environment as they're tough to break down. A new study has a solution - fungus. 

Read more

Curious Bear Finds The Camera

Getting that perfect wildlife shot can be tough. That's why the BBC Earth team developed innovative spy cameras to catch each amazing moment, like the skiing cam. 

Read more

Baby Sea Turtle Treadmills

Light pollution has become a serious problem of modern living. And for turtles, it's even worse. That's why scientists devised this unique and adorable experiment. 

Read more

Consider This Before Your Next Virtual Shopping Trip

Online shopping has long been held in high regard as the more eco-friendly way to purchase. But e-commerce may actually be worse for our environment than you think.

Read more

Traffic Stopped by Silverback Gorillas

Silverback gorillas are amazing and beautiful creatures to be sure. Watch as a troop is filmed literally stopping traffic crossing a crowded road. 

Read more

China's Ivory Trade Ban: What It Means Going Forward

Elephant numbers have long been on the decline due to poaching for their tusks. But China's new ivory trade ban aims to curb that trend and protect these animals.

Read more

Hungry Deer Meets Delicious Snowman

Tis the season for snowmen to start popping up on front lawns. But don't leave carrots out for too long or you might get a hungry wildlife visitor.

Read more

The Future of Power: Solar Windows

While solar technology is advancing at a breakneck pace, one innovation in the industry is set to change the way we collect power forever - solar windows. 

Read more

Literally Swimming in Drugs

It's a tragedy that animals are trapped in our trash. But it's astounding that one turtle in particular was found wrapped up in over $53 million worth of cocaine.

Read more

Whose Responsible for Your Dirty Water?

Clean drinking water is supposed to be a right of every citizen in the nation. However, this right is often violated - and it isn't getting any better.

Read more

Global Warming & Cold Spells: What's the Connection?

When faced with bitter-cold weather, some people tend to think global warming isn't real. But in fact, global warming just may be the culprit behind dropping temps.

Read more

Spiders: Ancient & Amazing

Spiders have been producing silk for literally hundreds of millions of years. Take a look at just why these creatures and the silk they produce are so amazing. 

Read more

The Threat of Ocean Deoxygenation

We often hear of the widespread effects of pollution on the ocean and the life it holds. But there's another threat beneath the surface - ocean deoxygenation.

Read more

The Sun: An Introduction

The Sun is literally the source of life for everything on the planet earth. But what is that giant ball of light in the sky really? How does it work?

Read more


    Help Us Go Green
    Help Us Go Green