This documentary reveals many disgusting truths about dolphin captivity, the industry that pimps them, and its nauseating connection with the food industry. This film had me picking my jaw up off the floor in between patting the streams of tears off my cheeks.
The film discusses the mass dolphingenocide in Taiji Japan and the legal complexities concerned with it.
During the 60’s the show Flipper hit the pop culture scene and quickly became one of the most popular shows on air. People began flooding to their local Sea Worlds and other aquatic amusement parks to catch a glimpse of these circus dolphins.
Ric O’barry the main actor in Flipper worked on the set of flipper for nearly ten years. While working on the set he formed a close companionship to Cathy, the dolphin on the set, and began to understand her on an almost telepathic level. Ric watched as Cathy’s happiness declined making her drained and depressed. For most it is difficult to tell whether dolphins are happy or sad because of the shape of their mouth. It stretches across the face giving the illusion of a constant smile, but not all are smiling. The final straw came for Cathy one day as she took her own life. Unlike us Dolphins do not breathe involuntarily so every breath is consciously taken. Ric witnessed Cathy take her last breath in his arms on the set. This moment sparked an unfulfilled curiosity in Ric concerned with animal captivity and the effect it has on its contained. The information he uncovered created an epic agenda to stop dolphin captivity and help spread awareness of the dangers inflicted on dolphins in captivity and what they go through to get to these places.
Years of activism and research lead Ric to Taiji Japan where 23,000 dolphins are murdered per year. This small city is responsible for supplying nearly all of the bottlenose dolphins to aquatic theme parks all over the world.
Ric began obsessing over Taiji because it sickened him that no one has ever gotten footage of this disgusting phenomena and most have no idea its even happening. So he put together a dream team comprised of two world-class divers, a filmmaker, sculptor and various activists. Together they were determined on capturing the first footage of the dolphin killings in Taiji in hopes of exploiting what goes on. We watch as their efforts repeatedly get shut down by Japanese security and government officials concerned with concealing the truth about their crooked whaling policies. Every time the crew left their hotel they would get followed by government officials and other people benefitting off the profits. They do not want them to tamper with one of their largest grossing exports and one of their biggest moneymakers. Through out the documentary it becomes apparent how intense the security is around the cove and it becomes obvious why.During the activist stay in Taiji and thanks to Ric’s multiple trips they become familiar with security hours and shifts that the cove is patrolled . The crew discovers that the site is rarely monitored at night and determine that this would be the best time to sneak in and plant cameras. Part of the team assembles fake rocks and fake seaweed with cameras located inside that camouflage with the environment. The cameras send live streaming footage to headquarters the next day after they completed their infiltration. What they saw cannot be described in words but only by the emptiness of ones mouth as your jaw drops. These men sit in 4 or 5 boats out in the ocean and tap on these long poles submerged in the water. The sound of the tapping fucks with the dolphin’s frequency preceptors causing hoards of them to flock close to the beach.
Dolphins can communicate in very sophisticated ways and through far distances. They have a remarkably sensitive perception and can hear and feel ranges and frequencies that exceed far past ours. Sadly dolphin hunters use this beautiful characteristic to aid their capture.
Similar to sheep herding the boaters systematically trap the dolphins in a small cove about the size of a city block. They throw a net across the opening of the cove initiating the start of the genocide. The men hand select the ones that look the most like “flipper” and then slaughter the rest by repeatedly spearing them. The water turns deep red creating a frightening glaze over my eyes as I watch in disbelief.
More layers of this sickening occurrence are revealed to us as we learn that most of the people that live in Taiji are not even aware of what is in their own city. This is probably because allot of the meat that is sold in their supermarkets is dolphin meat labeled as whale meat. Also the public and private schools in Japan are issued dolphin meat as “whale meal” as a part of their free lunch program. The issue with this, besides being illegal, is that there are astronomical amounts of mercury in dolphin meat. Children and adults who consume the contaminated meat on a daily basis start to develop physical deformities as well as mental.
After watching this film I think it goes without saying that watching dolphins do tricks and entertain is not worth the amount of stress inflicted on them. The great lengths gone to extract these dolphins from their natural habitat is not worth a few hours of entertainment for the sake of an obsession with an American icon.
The team of activist’s filmmakers and free divers cracked the truth and need help surfacing it to mass media. This film has no happy ending because it is present day and its contents are still occurring. One thing we can all do immediately is spread the sparkle of knowledge. As sparkleberries step one is to tell as many people as we can about what’s happening because many voices can’t be ignored, step two we can work on together.
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