An Investigation of The Cove Part 1





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Published on Aug 30, 2010


On March 7th the movie "The Cove" won an Oscar for best documentary. The documentary details the slaughter of thousands of dolphins each year as part of a drive fishery that takes place in a remote cove in Taiji, Japan. "The Cove" is a compelling story; after all, who wouldn't support such a noble cause complete with horrific injustice and a remorseful hero turned from a life of evil to save dolphins?

If this sounds like a screenplay for a fiction thriller, that's because in more ways than one, it is.

Although the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji is very real, much about star Ric O'Barry's past and the reasons behind the Taiji slaughter portrayed in "The Cove" are far from fact. The movie introduces O'Barry as the original "Flipper" trainer turned anti-captivity in 1970 after a dolphin on the TV series allegedly committed suicide in his arms.

Ricou Browning was the creator and Producer of "Flipper." It was Browning and not O'Barry that trained the first Flipper dolphins. And according to Miami Seaquarium, Kathie's (Flipper's) death came at the end of long illness, her death was not suicide.

As recently as 1989, despite his supposed epiphany, O'Barry continued to seek employment in a marine life facility. From a 1993 article in "Animal People" Captain Paul Watson wrote: "It was only after [Steve] Wynn turned down O'Barry's application for a trainer's job [1989] that O'Barry became critical of the Mirage".

O'Barry is also one of an infamous few charged with animal abuse and fined under the US Marine Mammal Protection Act for his role in the 1999 death of "Buck", a U.S. Navy dolphin.

Does O'Barry's contradictory past mean "The Cove's" message is not valid? Certainly not. Few could willingly ignore the violent slaughter of one of the world's most popular animals; and this is exactly what the creators of "The Cove" are relying on.

O'Barry and producer Louie Psihoyos hijack the film's message to promote a not-so-hidden agenda of anti-zoo that deviates from the real reason behind the slaughter in Taiji. "The Cove" deliberately portrays a sinister link between the killings in Taiji and U.S. marine life parks that does not exist.

At 18:49 minutes into the movie, O'Barry states "[about marine life parks] ... a multibillion dollar industry, and all of these captures helped create the largest slaughter of dolphins on the planet". At that precise moment, we see the entrance to Dolphin Cove, a marine life park located in Key Largo, Florida. Ironically, Dolphin Cove Key Largo does not have any dolphins from the Taiji slaughter, nor has it ever. Dolphin Cove is not alone.

According to the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, an association that represents most major marine life parks in the western hemisphere, none of their 44 members "have or take animals from the [Taiji] drive." It has been more than three decades since any western facility brought dolphins from Taiji.

The fact is that the drive fishery in Taiji predates marine life parks by nearly 300 years. It began in 1675 as a drive fishery for the primary purpose of pest control and dolphin meat.

So why does "The Cove" claim that the slaughter is created by marine parks?

Berkley-based Earth Island Institute (EII) is behind the making of "The Cove." For the past two decades, O'Barry has acted as the henchman for EII in their campaign to gain de facto control over the marine zoological community; the same "certification" control that EII has exacted upon the tuna industry with their private "Dolphin Safe" label. "The Cove" is O'Barry and EII's latest deception in this well defined scheme, only this time they envision a "Dolphin Safe Marine Park" label as their "Oscar."

The recent SeaWorld tragedy plays right into their hands and they are downright jubilant about it. In a red carpet interview, Psihoyos cheerfully admitted that the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld and the Oscar nomination combined to their benefit and described the circumstances as "the perfect storm for us."

O'Barry and Psihoyos may have their moment of fame and EII may even levy a toll on marine life parks in the process, but neither outcome will stop the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji. Much like the evolution of awareness about marine life in the United States, only education and changing values toward dolphins will stop a 335 year old cultural hunt. But then again, ending the dolphin slaughter in Taiji was never the primary intent of the Oscar winning documentary "The Cove."

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