Louie Psihoyos: The Cove | 2009

The idyllic Pacific coastal whaling town of Taiji, in the Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, with its community of fisher-folk, long held a terrible secret, a secret that was uncovered and put to global critical scrutiny (and subsequent outrage) by a team of concerned animal and environmental activists led by National Geographic photographer and later film director, Louie Psihoyos. Psihoyos’s ‘The Cove‘ was largely triggered by the work of former dolphin trainer and now long term dolphin welfare activist Richard O’Barry, who, along with Psihoyos and friends, undertook the investigation and documentation that led to the uncovering of the brutal mass slaughter of bottle nosed dolphins in the Taiji cove. Given the real dangers of undertaking such a project (threat to life, suspicious Japanese government officials, non-cooperative and tailing policemen, angry and potentially violent fishermen,) Psihoyos, O’Barry and team had to roll out a covert military style operation, keeping a low profile, using camouflaged gear and cameras, night vision apparatus, and discreet diving. O’Barry knew the dangers very well indeed, for his former activist colleagues were murdered for trying to protect dolphins. Japan of course has a centuries old tradition of fishing (whaling, ‘dolphining’ included,) and the likes of O’Barry and Psihoyos are distinctly looked at as the occidental other, the white man who comes to pass judgement on oriental traditions and cultures. In any case, the blood red waters of the Taiji cove, via the film, washed ashore globally, bringing into sharp focus, the delicate imbalance of human need and greed vis a vis rapidly declining animal species on the planet. Watch.

 

The Cove Full Documentary

 

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