Former dolphin trainer, Ric O’Barry, from the ’60s TV series Flipper has filmed a new documentary titled The Cove revealing a secret cove in Japan where fisherman kill 23,000 dolphins and porpoises each year.
They battle Japanese police and fisherman to gain access to a cove in Taiji, Japan, where barbed wire blocks people from filming dolphin killings that begin in September each year.
The documentary opens in the United States on Friday but has yet to receive distribution in Japan, where O’Barry says 23,000 dolphins and porpoises are legally killed each year.
The Japanese government said it has done nothing wrong and cites cultural differences in response to the film.
Dolphin meat is eaten by a very small percentage of Japanese people.
“The film is about leading an ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ kind of team into this secret cove to try to reveal its dark secrets,” said Psihoyos, referring to the popular Hollywood film about a top notch team who break into impossible places. “It was extremely scary.”
But it largely examines environmental issues, including Japan’s efforts to persuade the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to lift a ban on commercial whaling introduced in 1986. The ban does not apply to smaller cetaceans including dolphins.
It argues that toxic waste dumped into the ocean has caused higher levels of mercury poisoning found in larger species of ocean life, including dolphins.
A spokeswoman for the Japanese embassy in Washington, Izumi Yamanaka, said in an e-mail the area surrounding Taiji had traditional dietary habits of eating dolphin meat and that Japan adhered to IWC rules.
“The Japanese government believes that it is most important to recognize national and cultural differences,” she said.