(OrganicJar) 23,000 Dolphins are slaughtered each year in a hidden cove in Taiji, Japan. The Japanese government covers it up. No one could get in.
The Cove exposes an atrocity of unimaginable brutality. The dolphin slaughter depicted here is committed yearly and without knowledge of the general Japanese public, even though they could be buying highly-toxic mercury-laden dolphin meat disguised as fish from their local supermarkets.
Barred access to the site, the film crew (which includes most notably the man who trained Flipper, Richard O’Barry) was forced to utilize covert military tactics and equipment, including thermal heat sensors and the help of two world-class free divers, to accomplish their mission.
Like other cetaceans, dolphins appear capable of such high-level cognition that in some ways they might be considered people. Their neurological systems of emotion and social communication are highly developed. Some researchers think their high-pitched vocalizations may contain aspects of language. They may even have names for each other.
Though the town itself is adorned with statues of dolphins, and sidewalks are embedded with tiles containing their likenesses, the killing takes place in a carefully guarded cove. Technically it’s a national park, but even Japanese citizens can’t enter the park during hunting season.
“The cove is like a fortress. It’s protected on three sides by steep cliffs. To get in, you need to go through a natural tunnel system that’s protected by a dog and a sensor. Ric said you’d need a Navy SEAL team to get in there. I said that I didn’t know any Navy SEALs, but I did know Mandy-Ray Cruickshank,” said Psihoyos.
The cameras were so cutting-edge that manufacturer Sony hadn’t yet released the software necessary to pull data off the hard drives and edit it. The team hid the drives in a hotel air conditioning duct, and within a day of retrieving each one had runners take them to Tokyo or Osaka and send them out of the country.
“For me, the most telling violence comes when the violence is over,” said Psihoyos. “When the dolphins die, their bodies sink. Divers are sent to retrieve them. Afterwards you see them smoking by the campfire with a blood-red sea behind them. There’s something so banal about it. They just had a hand in that atrocity, and life goes on. That’s the most revealing part.”
The Cove is now in wide release in the United States. The next dolphin hunting season will begin in Japan in September.
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