Monday, September 6, 2010

The Cove

I just watched the Academy award winning documentary The Cove. If you haven't see it yet, I highly recommend checking this movie out. It's currently airing on Planet Green and is also available on DVD.

The crew is comprised of ninja filmmakers, record setting free divers, former military and many other highly skilled professionals from various fields. The movie plays out like a stealth military mission to expose the horror behind the annual slaughter of dolphins in a small hidden cove in a National Park in the ilyllic seaside town of Taiji, Japan. The astonishing beauty of the setting alone makes its horrible secret even more horrific. The lengths that the filmmakers had to go through just to make this film is astonishing. And sad. And infuriating. And all because one small town in Japan has chosen to mercilessly slaughter thousands of dolphins every year. And they want to hide that fact from the rest of the world. From YOU.

Ric O'Barry is the dolphin activist behind the film who began his career with dolphins as a trainer for the 1960's film Flipper. He was personally responsible for capturing and training five wild dolphins to play the starring role of Flipper. He became particularly close to one of the dolphins named Kathy, who later committed suicide in his arms. It was at that moment he realized he had been devoting his life to the wrong thing. In his heart he knew that dolphins simply didn't belong in captivity. He has since spent his life advocating for the release of captive dolphins that are able to be successfully released back to the wild where they belong.

I recently raved about the film to friends and to my surprise some simply said, "I just can't watch it. I can't think about it. It upset me too much. I just can't do it." Burying your head in the sand will not make this problem go away. The activists who travel to these remote locations around the world to protect animals are just as sensitive to their suffering as you or I. Probably even more so. Not only do they risk their safety, but they see atrocities that won't be found in any movie. Yet they get up the next morning and do it again.

I used to simply ignore these types of stories myself. Someone else would handle it. Someone else would see that it stops. But one day something in me changed. I realized that my voice - however small - could be added to all the other small voices. And the voices of many cannot be ignored. All of those voices are people who cared. People who tried.

When the news story about Michael Vick and his atrocities broke, I cried like a baby while reading about it. But I continued to read about it. And I watched the news reports. Because I wanted to become informed and learn about how this type of activity can be stopped. I signed petitions, wrote letters, donated money, ranted on Facebook, you name it. Whether my voice helped I'll never know. But I knew I had to do something. By choosing to remain ignorant because you're "too sensitive" to take it, you're only adding to the problem. You're exactly the type of person that these criminals hope are out there ... people too busy to care, to be bothered. To get involved. You can sign a petition, contribute $10, tell friends about it ... just do something

Don't complain in 10 years (or 20 or 30) that the regal lion that was once the universal symbol of strength and considered "The King of the Jungle" is now extinct. That the only dolphins left in the world can be found if you pay $20 for entry into SeaWorld, where they perform foolish tricks for the applause of the crowd. After all the paying customers have left and the park closes, the dolphins are sent back to their holding pens where they bash their heads against the wall out of stress. When your children can no longer see the beauty of these animals with their own eyes and only read in books about how they once existed, don't complain. Remember back to the time not so long ago when all of these animals were being destroyed and you could have done something but chose not to.

Photo copyright Rolf Hicker.

Here's a few things you can do right now to help the dolphins.
  1. Text the word DOLPHINS to 44144. This is to sign up to receive the latest news on the campaign.
  2. Sign this petition which will be taken to President Obama, who is scheduled to visit Japan in November. Here's the link to the petition:
  3. Support the filmmakers with your donation. Here's the link:
  4. Learn more about dolphins in captivity. Here's a link:

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