The Cove

When reading a blog I came across a snippet about a documentary called The Cove. It was highly recommended and hence I watched it. It is about the hunting of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. The Dolphins are either shipped off to various Parks which put up shows with them or they are slaughtered for their meat. It was an incredibly disturbing video and I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone.

I always worry a great deal when I see such videos. The power that technology has placed in the hands of man and how a even a few misguided people can wreak irreparable damage on nature is plainly horrifying. People who are in power are the one’s who want power. Adequate knowledge or commitment to the future is not a pre-requisite. In fact such an attitude can even be a liability. Irresponsible power combined with technology is a dangerous mix. The “modern” economic system where everything is measured in dollars and widespread poverty and the helplessness of people who have no option but to integrate into the economy to survive don’t make things easier. Worldwide, resources are being exploited at an exponentially growing rate. Everything from food grains to water to fishing grounds are being threatened due to unsustainable practices and blind greed.

When I talked about this to my uncle he told me that I should read up on Milton Freidman and how his theory that a completely free  market is the solution to all problems. The book is extremely convincing and internally consistent. Then why is it resulting in so much destruction and pain worldwide? First of all, world trade is not completely “fair”. It never can be. The conditions and requirements of a flawless free market don’t exist now. Besides, people have a short lifespan. They are not bothered about future generations and the importance of leaving something behind for the future over the immediate needs.  If everything was just perfect and the governments and the companies played fair then maybe it would work. But, so would socialism if everybody cared about others. The free-market is as much of an idealism as an equal society. Maybe they differ in degree. But thats all.

Speaking about dolphins, they are one of the most intelligent and lovable creatures in the wild. They demonstrate a strange attachment to humans and are known for their empathy and kindness towards humans in distress. There have been many documented cases where humans have been threatened by sharks and dolphins have rescued them. There have also been instances where people thrown into the sea have been taken safely to the shore by dolphins. They also communicate very effectively and there have been tonnes of experiments regarding possible 2 way communication with them. It is mentioned in the video that it is now possible to communicate with them using the American Sign language. Since dolphins don’t have hands they cannot communicate back. But despite this handicap they have been surprisingly good at picking up the anthropomorphic language.

Nowadays, a lot of money is being spent on trying to locate extra-terrestrial intelligence. We are destroying a kind of profound and deep wisdom on our own earth. The irony of it!!!

The waters stained by the blood of hundreds of dolphins. Japan has been consistently  involved in whaling. It was banned by the IWC for a while and this allowed the cetacean population to bounce back. Now, they are using the cover of research and other pretenses to restart the ghastly business.

When I was young I remember seeing a movie about a dolphin and a boy. At the time I was touched by it. The strange and mysterious beauty of communicating with another species is one that has to be seen to be believed.

The even stranger thing that the documentary mentions is that dolphins caught from Taiji are contaminated with dangerous amounts of mercury. The dolphins are sold for around 60,000 dollars if it is for meat and for 150,000 dollars if they are for exhibition. But, apparently dolphin meat is not that highly valued. It is mostly passed of as other more exotic varieties of whale meat.

The dangers of mercury poisoning are also mentioned. Incidentally, Mercury poisoning was first reported from Minamata in Japan where a company had been dumping them in the local bay. Mercury causes damage to neurons and there are some clips about the Minamata disease(Mercury Toxicity). Babies are born with eyes that can’t see, ears that can’t hear and lolling heads(The Cove). The burning of fossil fuels results in mercury emissions into the atmosphere which eventually finds its way into the oceans and then into base of the food chain(algae). As we go up the food chain the concentrations increase until it reaches toxic levels.

The sight of kids affected by it is also very disturbing.

Sometimes, I wonder where all this is going. If things were at least improving that would have been cause for cheer. But problems are just growing more and more out of control. People in turn are becoming more and disconnected and resigned. It’s like we are on Auto-Pilot to the Final Destination.


4 thoughts on “The Cove

  1. Hi. I’m from Japan. I took part in the protest activities against the screening of “The Cove” actually. Because I reached a clear conclusion that “The Cove” is obviously anti-Japanese propaganda on the pretext of anti-whaling as a result of watching this movie (full length) on free video site. “THE COVE” looks at Japanese whaling from a one-sided point of view. “THE COVE” takes a self-righteous and intrusive attitude. And more, “The Cove” violates human rights of the Japanese fishermen who engage in slaughtering dolphins in Taiji Wakayama Japan.

    Do you know where the nearest slaughterhouse to your town is? If you have a moment, please visit there. Can you get permission to take photos of slaughtering cattle(the moment of killing them) and workers’ faces? It is impossible at least in Japan. The slaughtering (killing) section is called “untouchable world” in a social activity everywhere around the world. However, Louie Psihoyos, director of “The Cove” didn’t give any consideration to human-rights of the Japanese fishermen (because they are Japanese). This is racial discrimination against the Japanese people in obvious.

    Do you think the Japanese society should accept “The Cove”? Freedom of expression? Rights to know? As you may know, the controversy of whaling issue is full of lies and propaganda. It is natural that we Japanese should protect our right to exist from racist’s propagnada.

    • That you protested against the screening of The Cove does speak volumes about your commitment to Freedom of Expression and Balanced Treatment of issues.
      Coming to your next point, I don’t really see how criticizing the actions of the whaling industry, their lack of transparency, their scant regard for environmental issues and the global opposition to their actions, amounts to anti-Japanese propaganda. Don’t you think you are being a little thick-headed and reckless when making such grand accusations? Do the Japanese people identify with the few corporations behind this so much that pointing out a few negative things about them insults Japanese pride.
      Don’t you think that the businesses who engage in such actions do more to hurt Japanese image and National Pride than the people who bring to the notice of the world these actions? It’s this kind of corrosive, moronic, short-sighted and irrational brand of nationalism that has proved to be the undoing of so many societies and countries. I know, I shouldn’t be expecting a lot from you seeing that you are clearly a history denier who thinks that The Rape of Nanking was just a story invented to hurt Japanese Pride(TM).
      Its okay to love your country. But that shouldn’t come at the cost of hating the rest of the world. We all should identify more with this little Earth that we have than our countries and our primary duty should be to it’s well-being and not to the false images that our leaders wish to foist on us.
      You know what happened due to the irrational emotion and extreme Japanese nationalism that infected your country prior to the World War. You know what happened to Hitler and Germany. You know what happens when people start believing in stupid ideas about national pride.
      That was in answer to your allegation that someone was trying to insult your country and it’s people.
      Next, I will try and answer the points that you raised. We all know what the govt. officials and business men have to say about the issue. Their opinions are easy to come by and we have been exposed to them adequately to appreciate the spirit of what they are trying to say and their possible motivations. What the documentary did was to present the “other” side of the story. It was the documentary that balanced the information available.
      Next, they did try to resort to non-intrusive methods to look at what was happening. But, obviously that didn’t work out too well. So, you should be blaming that thing on the lack of transparency of the businesses. Not on the people who went to the lengths they did to get the information they wanted.
      You say it violates the rights of the fishermen. How exactly did that happen? By showing what they do? If you think what they are doing is right and absolutely essential to their survival and that they are doing it out of their own volition and not due to conditions created by businesses and your govt., then why should they feel bad about someone recording their job on film? What have they got to hide? Don’t you think that by appealing to nationalistic tendencies and asking people to ignore scientific evidence and expert opinion you are in effect asking your people to deny the rights that the rest of the world has to our environmental wealth?
      Next point… I know plenty of slaughter houses. In fact, I grew up on a farm and have seen plenty of killings of animals. Nobody would give a shit about me recording what they do on cam. I can take as many photos as I want and no one is going to stop me. The butchers here don’t walk around with masks and they are not ashamed of what they do. They are engaged in sustainable production of meat for public consumption. They are proud of their job and no one considers them to be untouchable in any part of the world. I have killed chickens myself. But, I don’t engage in the slaughter of endangered species just for the fun of it.
      That you made such an obviously wrong claim goes to show how much grasp you have of the issues. The allegations of racial discrimination are kind of funny. I don’t know how you managed to convince yourself of that. At what point in the documentary was it said that these actions are the result of the people being Japanese or had something to do with your genes? Corporate greed is a problem that the whole world is familiar with, not just he Japanese. You know a lot of big words. But, I don’t think you appreciate their meaning adequately.
      Do I think the Japanese should accept The Cove? I think everyone irrespective of their nationality should accept it. I do know that a lot of the information out there are lies and propaganda. And, I also am fairly certain where it is coming from. Which one is more plausible? That a few guys just set out to destroy Japanese Pride(TM) at great personal risk for… i don’t know what purpose or that a few businesses are trying to maintain status quo for their own ends? Just spend some time thinking about it when you are sober.

    • I do not think this is an anti-japanese show. It’s more of an anti-dolphin slaughter, anti-animal suffering documentary. If this film is to be taken from other dolphin hunting countries, it will have the same impact on me. Staying in Singapore, I have heard that we are very much a hub for illegal wildlife trade, as well as shark fin trade. If someone from another country or from our own country is to come and make a documentary to raise awareness of such issues here, I will in fact be very happy. It is only by doing this that change for a better world can happen. When it comes to animal suffering, it’s everywhere, and it has no nationality.

  2. I am doing a presentation on the effects of mercury poisoning and after watching the cove documentary, it was just so moving for me to see. It also is scary to think that for years the asian communities had been unaware of the full extent of the meat that they were buying in stores and the meat their children where eating for school lunches. Ric really in my opinion made the best documentary i have ever had the pleasure of watching.

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