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“The Cove” a Documentary by Rick O’Barry Essay

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Updated: Aug 25th, 2020

“The Cove” documents the attempts of Rick O’Barry, a former dolphin capturer and trainer, when he sets out to unravel a mysterious cruelty against dolphins. The events of the documentary unfold in a cove that is tucked away in Taiji, a tiny fishing enclave in Japan. Rick first ventured in Taiji when he was tasked with capturing and training dolphins that were later to be featured in the popular television show “Flippers”.

The main character reckons that what he started was a multi-billion business whereby the demand for trained dolphins for entertainment purposes rose to unprecedented levels (The Cove). In the course of his training activities, Rick O’Barry once witnessed a dolphin ‘commit suicide’ in his arms. Later on, Rick’s conscience became a burden to him and he sought to redeem the plight of the besieged dolphins. The main character’s journey led him to the highly secretive cove in Taiji where he is determined to reveal the covert activities pertaining to dolphins.

The documentary begins with O’Barry and his filming crew travelling to Taiji. This town is known as a sanctuary for whales and dolphins but there are also secret activities that go on here. The filming crew targets a certain cove that appears to be unnecessarily isolated from the rest of the world. The cove is surrounded by “Keep Off” signs and it is also conveniently fenced (The Cove).

After venturing into the cove, it becomes clear that there are serious dolphin-hunting activities that are going on in the area. According to O’Barry, the captured dolphins are often sorted out in accordance with market needs and priorities. The film intimates that while some of the captured fish will end up in marine parks, most of them will be killed and sold for human consumption.

The film also addresses the conspiracies that have supported the existence of the cove. The efforts to conceal the activities of the cove to the general public involve various stakeholders including the Japanese government officials. In a bombshell revelation, the documentary purports that the Japanese populous is mostly unaware of the activities that go on in the cove. Furthermore, the consumers of the products from Taiji are also unaware that these products contain high levels of Mercury. Two of the interviewed individuals support this claim and they also express their calls for the elimination of dolphin meat from school menus.

The film crew is unable to record the actual slaughter of the dolphins in Taiji because the fishermen deny them the opportunity. The local police are also apprehensive of the film crew’s presence in Japan throughout the documentary. However, the film crew teams up with another activist group to film the secret activities in the cove. After exposing the activities that are ongoing in Taiji, O’Barry turns the viewers’ attention to the policies that Japan has adopted when it comes to the treatment of whales and dolphins.

In the documentary, the main character accuses Japan of conspiring against the efforts of the International Whaling Commission by recruiting other smaller players to support its agendas. Towards the end of the film, O’Barry confronts a Japanese official with the information he collected from the cove but the man does not appear to care (The Cove). Finally, O’Barry storms into a meeting of the International Whaling Commission with a screen that is showing films about dolphin hunting activities. In the end, O’Barry has to be escorted out of the meeting hall.

Works Cited

The Cove. Dir. Louie Psihoyos. Perf. Ric O’Barry, Hayden Pannattiere, Scott Baker, and Isabel Lucas. Lionsgate, 2009. Film.

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IvyPanda. (2020, August 25). "The Cove" a Documentary by Rick O’Barry. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-cove-a-documentary-by-rick-obarry/

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""The Cove" a Documentary by Rick O’Barry." IvyPanda, 25 Aug. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-cove-a-documentary-by-rick-obarry/.

1. IvyPanda. ""The Cove" a Documentary by Rick O’Barry." August 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-cove-a-documentary-by-rick-obarry/.


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IvyPanda. 2020. ""The Cove" a Documentary by Rick O’Barry." August 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-cove-a-documentary-by-rick-obarry/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) '"The Cove" a Documentary by Rick O’Barry'. 25 August.

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