21 July 2010

"The Cove"

I watched the film "The Cove" last night on More 4 and was deeply moved and saddened by it, it's about a group of activists who are protesting the yearly capture and slaughter of Dolphins in Taiji Japan. It's heavily covered up and the cove they do it in is heavily blockaded by fences and guarded around the time of the event.

They eventually manage to film the slaughter using hidden camera's and what is shown is deeply disturbing. They trap the Dolphins and some are selected to be sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars and taken to sea parks, usually female bottle nose Dolphins like "flipper". Then the rest are herded round into the Cove and brutally killed with knives on the end of sticks and spears, the water turning red with their blood. It's awful to watch but if you love Dolphins and have ever wanted to swim with captive dolphins or considered going to see a Dolphin show you must watch it, as this is where those dolphins come from.

One thing I found most interesting about it is one of the campaigners is the guy who captured and trained the 4 Dolphins that played flipper. After the show was over they died in captivity, the one he liked the most "Cathy" apparently committed suicide in his arms (Dolphins can choose whether or not to come up to breathe and she apparently lost the will to live in a tank). He now feels responsible for the whole Dolphin industry as flipper is what made people all want to swim with them and see them doing shows etc, and has devoted his life to freeing as many captive Dolphins as he can and campaigning against Dolphin slaughter.

The thing I didn't like about the film was it focuses on this one town in Japan and doesn't discuss any of the other places where it goes on. In Denmark they have festival the whole towns take part in where they herd the dolphins and whales ashore kill them and then the children of the village run down amongst the bodies of all the slaughtered whales and dolphins. They aren't even trying to cover it up or acting like it's shameful thing, they do it openly and are refusing to stop despite years of campaigning by groups like greenpeace.

a quick search of Youtube this morning surprised me, as it turned up a lot of video's actually saying it was stupid or pointless film. I was even more surprised to find that not all these critical films were by Japenese people who were still in favour of Dolphin hunting too, This guy is Austarilian and I assume lives in Japan. He makes some good points about how the film wouldn't help change Japanese opinion on the subject. There are cultural differences in how we see dolphins, and asking these isolated remote towns (not all Japanese people endorse or even know about the whale and dolphin hunting that goes on) to stop is similar to how the Fox Hunters reacted when Fox Hunting was banned. But at least we did ban it, the Japanese government needs to recognise that some aspects of cultural heritage have to be left behind even if they meet with resistance as they are just plain barbaric.

I think the film was more intended to encourage new activists in the western world really rather than to influence the Japanese, as the old ones won't be around forever and once they are gone they need people to take over.

as I said above Dolphins are slaughtered far more openly in Denmark too which is closer to home for me, and people there should be more aware of a dolphins intelligence, and mercury content! I'm going to look into this and see what groups are campaigning to stop it, I'll update later.

Update: All I can find on the slaughter of Whales and dolphins in Denmark seems to date from about 2 years ago, though I remember Greenpeace campaigning about this back in the 80's, it's shocking that is still apparently going on. There's a very good blog post here on the subject. All the petitions seem to be closed and I'm not sure if anyone is currently campaigning to stop the activity, if anyone knows of any groups let me know.

And this is my first day without smoking, this evening will be the hardest part, then the next 2 days, hopefully I'll be able to hold out.

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