When the documentary The Cove was released in late summer to a limited amount of theaters in the US, expectations of how the film might impact the start of the Japanese dolphin hunt were mixed. Would the message carried in the film be ignored? Would people plug into the passionate storytelling and activism? And most importantly, would the town of Taiji, Japan — home of the deadly “Cove” feel any pressure to change their ways?
Almost a month after the dolphin hunt in Taiji was supposed to commence, we’re happy to report that the dolphin pods swimming in the area are still unharmed. There was an incident a few weeks back in which many were rounded up — leading some to believe that the hunt was on — but the majority were freed; with a few being selected for Japanese aquariums. (Not the greatest happy ending, we admit.)
In his almost daily blog entries, Richard O’Barry — Campaign Director for the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition and star of The Cove — has been keeping almost constant watch on Taiji and recounting the joy of each day that passes without a hunt. Yesterday, he wrote, “I was very pleased with what I saw – which was nothing. Not only was the Cove empty of any dolphins, there were also no signs of any activity to set up the dolphin hunt – for example, nets used to close off the Cove once the dolphins are driven in were not set in place ready to be deployed. All the dolphin drive boats depicted in “The Cove” Movie were tied up at the docks. There was no activity at the Fishermen’s Union.”
While O’Barry admits he can’t stay in Taiji forever, he has been pleased with the worldwide pressure on the town — including a recent 60 Minutes Australia special and an upcoming 10-day stint by a German film crew. He also gave credit to celebrities like Ben Stiller and others for pressuring the Tokyo Film Festival into showing The Cove. It had previously been banned from the competition.
What happens next in Taiji is anyone’s guess. I still think a hunt is quite possible — but if it does commence, expect the storm of criticism to once more descend on the town. This time around, such scorn may also come from the Japanese public — a shift that might help end the hunt permanently. Until that day comes, expect O’Barry and others to keep a watch on Taiji. To help them in their mission — please consider a donation here.
Still haven’t seen The Cove movie? Jump here for showtimes near you.