The Cove



“The Cove” is a documentary that should be shown on national television – make that international television – rather than be seen by the few thousand who will come to it in theatres.  It is the story of a slaughter of dolphins, going on now, in a cove near the Japanese seaside fishing town of Taiji.  Every year thousands of dolphins pass by along the coast on their migration route, and every year the fishermen of the town come out to herd them into a small cove where they are killed, one by one, by the men who plunge sharpened spears into them.  The water in the cove runs red with dolphin blood as the slaughter goes on.  On average, the men kill about twenty-three thousand dolphins each year.


We know this because even though the Japanese have hidden the cove from prying eyes, with razor wire and guards, and the cove itself is set in an area of rocky cliffs, an international group of saviours – there’s no other word – has snuck into the cove and recorded on tape the entire process.  It is sickening, compelling, essential viewing.  The saviours, who risk Japanese prison if caught, are a group of climbers, free-divers and cameramen (and women) who place their recording devices (using night vision to see their way), led by an American named Richard O’Barry.  O’Barry is the man who made a fortune by training the dolphins that were used for the television show “Flipper” forty years ago and has regretted it ever since.


Along with the footage of the slaughter, the film also visits the International Whaling Commission, which has so far refused to include dolphins as protected species (they are cetacians)