Category: The Cove


In any aspect of life, it’s easy to blame and judge someone for something that you view differently. It is easy to sit on this computer and blog to Mr. Fujisaki to make a change. It is easy to show up to a protest on Oct. 14 and shake a finger at the Japanese government for encouraging such a repulsive practice. What’s not easy is to be one of the most famous dolphin trainers in entertainment, essentially promote dolphin captivity, and then flip your views into becoming the most active campaigner against dolphin mistreatment in the world.

Meet Ric O’Barry. O’Barry is best known for shocking thousands of horrified viewers and exposing dolphin slaughter to the world through the documentary, The Cove. However, 38 years ago, he was on “the other side of the dolphin street.” As the lead dolphin instructor on the TV show, Flipper, it was O’Barry’s responsibility to capture, live with, and train the five “Flipper” dolphins throughout the duration of the show. Little did he know that highlighting the personality of dolphins through TV would lead to such ghastly consequences for their species. “I feel somewhat responsible,” he says in the interview below, “because it was the Flipper series that started this multi-billion dollar industry.”

However, it wasn’t until 10 years of dolphin training that this guilt set in. The catalyst was the death of the Flipper dolphin, Cathy, in 1970. According to O’Barry, Cathy’s death was not an accident. “You have to understand,” he says, “dolphins are not automatic air breathers like we are. Every breath for them is a conscious effort. She looked me right in the eye, took a breath, held it — and she didn’t take another one. She just sank to the bottom of the water.”

This event was a wake-up call for O’Barry, who realized that tanks and cages are not an appropriate environment for dolphins. “The next day,” he recalls, “I found myself in a Bimini jail, trying to free a dolphin for the first time.” Since then he has devoted himself to the campaign against dolphin mistreatment, regardless of the dangers he faces in Japan after the release of the Cove. He is involved in many corporations such as the Oceanic Preservation Society and has his own organization you can check out at savejapandolphins.org.

Ric O’Barry is an admirable man, to be sure. But the reason why I devote a blog to him is not necessarily to point out the influence he has on this issue (which is quite a ton, by the way).  The most fascinated thing about O’Barry to me is that he changed. He had one passionate view on the subject and those thoughts shifted dramatically as he learned more about the situation. This gives me hope that people will change in a similar manner. These actions will be stopped.

The question is, how many more dolphins need to lose their lives before it does?

Elora Malama

Meet Elora Malama. She is not a celebrity like Hayden. She does not send heart-shaped letters like Frankie. She has no professional, co-ops film crew like Ric. In fact, she’s just a spunky sixteen-year-old girl who likes to write and take pictures. Except Elora’s focus isn’t around cute boys or driving privledges. Her writing is about the issue in Taiji, Japan, her pictures are tainted with the blood of dolphin slaughter, and her mission is to share that with the world.

Elora and her father, a member of the Sea Shepard Conservation Society, traveled to Taiji at the start of September to observe, experience, and hopefully make deals with Japanese fisherman on dolphin hunting regulations. This is where Elora’s blog begins, assuring her readers that she will “post something new every step of the way, and all of it will be through the eyes of a sixteen year old girl.” Psh. Because the eyes of a sixteen-year-old are just FULL of intuition, right?

Elora has certainly kept her promise, religiously blogging her daily experiences as she witnesses dolphin slaughter, stubborn fisherman, her fellow travelers’ efforts, reluctant political executives, shady police officers, and various reactions of the Japanese people to the current situation. She provides continual pictures, quotes, frustrations, hopes, updates, and reactions, all developing as she becomes more involved in the Taiji controversy. One blog talks about the Sea Shepard’s attempt and failure to “buy” a pod of dolphins to release from the Japanese fisherman. Another talks about Japanese fisherman threatening them to be arrested. Another tells a heart-wrenching tale about touching dolphin blood found on the Cove rocks; a sickening reminder of the dolphin slaughter earlier that day. Regardless of the day’s events, (good, bad, or boring) Elora gives each experience a new post of observations.

So what’s the big deal?  There are plenty of blogs about Taiji out there (heck, you are reading one right now), most of whom are not written by teenagers! What Elora has done is unlock a real-time, detailed feed of information and perception about what is going on in Taiji at this very instant. Her only agenda is to document her experiences, therefore providing a sincerity to her posts that is unattainable through the media articles or documentaries. This girl who is barely even old enough to drive is showing the world that it is capable of a better place than this. She is showing Japan that there are peaceful, non-criminal Americans willing to negotiate with them. She is showing activists that there is a new generation to pick up where they leave off. And she is showing us, the average human being, that we have a voice and that voice can make a difference.

Follow Elora’s blog: http://eloramalama.wordpress.com/

Follow Elora’s youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/KahakaiGirl

A Post To Get Your Toes Wet

I fell in love with the ocean at the age of 15. My dad and I had just finished our scuba diving certifications and traveled to Cozumel, Mexico to complete our first open water dive. Hours upon hours had been spent watching videos, taking quizzes, pouring over books, and bubbling in tests to prepare for this first breathe underwater. My tank was full. My tank was on. But there is no preparation for the beauty and humbling awe found in the marine world. Unlike the clash and chaos of urban society, each organism swayed along with the gentle waltz of the ocean tide. When crossing a turtle or fish’s path, the animal would slowly turn and glide off with grace. The experience is absolutely unreal. This was the first time the ocean taught me about respect, value, and our individual contributions to a functioning community.

My family and I return to Cozumel every year, but my scuba travels have yet to expand to other locations. However, the ocean and its inhabitants have not stopped educating me. Now it is my turn to take this knowledge and educate others. So here are the facts. Every year, thousands of dolphins and whales are killed. A large contribution to this number occurs in September, when hundreds of dolphins are herded into a cove in Taiji, Japan. A few attractive females are kept for captivity; the rest are slaughtered for meat.


So are dolphins the real “healthy snack that smiles back?”Although this is a practice that some cultures claim as part of their way of life and staple for their economy, dolphins contain dangerously high amounts of Mercury that is known to cause birth defects, retardation, and other genetic mutations. In Taiji, much of this dolphin meat is sold or given to the residents of Japan. Many of the recipients of this dolphin meat are unware of what they are eating, under the impression that is whale meat.In 2009, activist Ric O’Barry created a team of filmmakers, free divers, and activists to go to Taiji and expose the ecological and ethical issues surrounding dolphin slaughter to a wider audience. The result was The Cove, an award-winning documentary that struck the hearts, wallets, and voices of individuals around the world. See the trailer here:

The documentary has stirred quite a bit of controversy and awareness, but it is just one step in the quest to stop the perception of dolphins as an edible product for human beings.  “Ric O’Barry is an old man,” an interviewee explains in the documentary. “There needs to be a new generation to pick up where he leaves off.” This blog is created in the effort to recruit, supply, and educate this new generation. Why? Because it is my responsibility to do so. As a scuba diver, it is my responsibility to demand respect for the creatures that I share the ocean with. As a student, it is my responsibility to educate myself about the world, especially about issues that provoke debate and fervor. As a PR major, it is my responsibility to take a position and use my voice to express that position.  As a citizen, it is my responsibility to exercise my opinions and rights. But most importantly, as a human, it is my responsibility to take a stand when ethical boundaries are crossed, misdirected, or abused, such as the case with the massacre and distribution of Taiji dolphins.

To learn more about this issue and its surrounding controversy go to:

http://www.takepart.com/thecove

http://www.thecovemovie.com

http://www.savejapandolphins.org

or text DOLPHIN to 44144