A Year in Seoul - video by Maddy

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Cove

I recently watched the highly acclaimed documentary, The Cove, and I found myself both deeply disturbed and deeply inspired... by things I didn't know, and by things I've known but ignored.

The documentary was created as an attempt to expose the atrocious dolphin slaughters occurring in Taiji, Japan, where about 23,000 are killed per year. It also points to the hypocrisy and cruelty of the captive dolphin industry and the dangers of mercury poisoning and overfishing to the future of our health and our oceans.

As I said, I had known about Taiji, but hadn't really educated myself. I've also known about the destruction of the oceans due to our inexhaustible demand for fish. This demand, if left unchecked, will lead to the collapse of our oceanic ecosystem, and much sooner than we think.

As a committed vegetarian, I could point out that the dolphin slaughters are easily comparable to factory farming in the United States. Hidden cameras there had the same profound effect upon my conscience and would surely equally shock film festival audiences. But why then, besides a brief stint a year ago, have I continued to consume seafood? How can I support the fishing industry in good conscience?

Growing up on the shores of Rhode Island (the Ocean State) the sea was my playground, my caretaker, and teacher. When I tortured my mother during the last hot months of her pregnancy, she floated in the sea for hours on end for relief. The soft rolling of the waves was my very first lullaby. Growing up by the sea, I learned to contemplate, respect, and love it. I believe the salt is in my blood.

It's difficult for me, however, to separate my idyllic memories of the sea from the smell of steaming clams, swordfish blackened on the grill, and flounder baked with buttery breadcrumbs. These things taste good, but as all things, they have a price. For me I think this price as become too high and I can no longer afford to enjoy these things. I can no longer support an industry that has been allowed to run wild.

I remember the first time I put a mask over my eyes and descended into the underwater world. I remember the first coral reef I ever laid my eyes upon, the schools of fish in technicolor and the seaweed dancing rhythmically beneath rolling swells. Now, I try to imagine descending in twenty years and finding it all destroyed.

A few weeks ago, I watched a short video which upset me enough to stop me from eating seafood. So far it has been a tentative cessation, but after watching The Cove, I've decided to make my New Year's Resolution: No More Seafood.

For those of you reading to learn about Korea, I am sorry this post is off topic. I am writing this now to draw attention to this well made, riveting and very worth while documentary, NOT to convince people to make decisions such as the one I have made. In fact, the documentary does not attempt to dissuade people from eating seafood. It is simply a causal connection I made on my own. One I think I have been trying to make for a long time. I am declaring my intentions publicly as a way to hold myself accountable.

As the film so aptly stated, you can either be one of two things "an activist or an inactivist" and though I feel I've lost my way somewhat this past year. I hope to remain the former.

To view the trailer or find more information please visit:

Below is the film synopsis, taken from the official website:

The Cove begins in Taiji, Japan, where former dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry has come to set things right after a long search for redemption. In the 1960s, it was O’Barry who captured and trained the 5 dolphins who played the title character in the international television sensation “Flipper.”
But his close relationship with those dolphins – the very dolphins who sparked a global fascination with trained sea mammals that continues to this day -- led O’Barry to a radical change of heart. One fateful day, a heartbroken Barry came to realize that these deeply sensitive, highly intelligent and self-aware creatures so beautifully adapted to life in the open ocean must never be subjected to human captivity again. This mission has brought him to Taiji, a town that appears to be devoted to the wonders and mysteries of the sleek, playful dolphins and whales that swim off their coast.
But in a remote, glistening cove, surrounded by barbed wire and “Keep Out” signs, lies a dark reality. It is here, under cover of night, that the fishermen of Taiji, driven by a multi-billion dollar dolphin entertainment industry and an underhanded market for mercury-tainted dolphin meat, engage in an unseen hunt. The nature of what they do is so chilling -- and the consequences are so dangerous to human health -- they will go to great lengths to halt anyone from seeing it.
Undeterred, O’Barry joins forces with filmmaker Louis Psihoyos and the Oceanic Preservation Society to get to the truth of what’s really going on in the cove and why it matters to everyone in the world. With the local Chief of Police hot on their trail and strong-arm fishermen keeping tabs on them, they will recruit an “Ocean's Eleven”-style team of underwater sound and camera experts, special effects artists, marine explorers, adrenaline junkies and world-class free divers who will carry out an undercover operation to photograph the off-limits cove, while playing a cloak-and-dagger game with those who would have them jailed. The result is a provocative mix of investigative journalism, eco-adventure and arresting imagery that adds up to an urgent plea for hope.

1 comment:

  1. Your blog is well written and thought provoking. Thank you.