The truths discovered in documentary films often reveal far more than meet the eye. In his Oscar winning movie “the Cove” photojournalist Louie Psihoyos takes us on an adventure that perhaps shows us more than we want to see.
“I lead an elite team of activists to penetrate a secret cove in Japan to reveal a dark secret,” Psihoyos said.
The Cove, part action thriller, part nature film is the exciting story behind a covert operation to document one of the most horrific atrocities of the 21st century, the systematic slaughter of dolphins.
“They kill more dolphins than anywhere on the planet right there at this cove, which incidentally is in a Japanese national park, a marine sanctuary,” Psihoyos said. That’s the irony of this whole thing. But it’s also the scene of the captive dolphin trade. Most of the captive dolphins in the world come from this little cove.”
Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved dolphins. These smiling marine mammals are the very image of fun and freedom. Growing up in Southern California I used love to see the dolphin and killer whale shows at ocean theme parks like Marine Land and Sea World. But I never really gave any thought to where these animals came from. The captive dolphin industry was started more than 50 years ago by a man named Rick O’Barry.
“Rick O’Barry is the guy who captured and trained the four dolphins who collectively played the part of Flipper, the popular 1960s television series ‘Flipper’,” said Psihoyos. “And (he) spent about 10 years building that industry up and he’s sent the last 40 tearing it down. The turning point for him was when Cathy, the primary dolphin that played the part of Flipper committed suicide in his arms that he realized that they are more sentient, more intelligent than anyone realized including himself and really turned himself around after that, and he’s probably become the world’s best known dolphin advocate.”
One of the greatest ironies in nature is the dolphin’s smile. In captivity that characteristic grin masks a deep sorrow of intelligent creatures that are rounded up and put on display for our amusement. And in the Cove those less suited for the marine mammal sideshow are killed and butchered to be eaten. But here’s the greatest irony. With high levels of mercury in the world’s oceans brought on by industrial pollution dolphin meat is toxic.