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The Cove, a Documentary Reflection

Lee is a Masters in Management graduate who has been working as a freelance writer and researcher since 2009.

“The Cove” is a documentary set at a cove in Taiji, a small fishing village in Japan. The very same place where former “Flippers”’ trainer Rick O’Barry captured five dolphins and train them for the hit television show of the same name. What came of it was a multi-billion dollar empire. The documentary was inspired by the conscience-stricken Rick O’Barry, after having a change of heart, finally realizes that such intelligent creatures should not be kept in captivity for human entertainment and human consumption. “The Cove” is an environmental movie documentary set on exposing the dolphin trade and why the public needs to act against it with such urgency.

the cove documentary film

A Covert Operation

In a remote cove, off-limits to everyone and surrounded by barbwire to keep people out, a dark-secret was about to unfold. At first glance, the place seemed to be a dolphin and whale’s paradise. There were posters, graffiti, statues, and parks inspired by dolphins and whales scattered around the small community. However, as the story unfolds, this small town of Taiji is actually keeping a very dark secret—it was a small-scale version of an international large-scale dolphin trade. Dolphins are captured for the multi-billion dollar entertainment industry, and for high market demand for dolphin meat. But the Japanese government would go to extreme lengths to make sure that these discoveries do not go public. Moreover, the Japanese Fisheries Agency was able to manipulate the International Whaling Commission’s mandate, something that has dangerous repercussions to the rest of the world.

What is more shocking, the truth about the cove in Taiji, and the covert operations of the Japanese fishermen was not something that is known by most Japanese! They did not know that the free meat that the children are being fed on public school cafeterias have high levels of mercury, this could lead to mercury poisoning.

swimming with dolphins

swimming with dolphins

Environmental Value

More than capturing the interests of the people and eliciting such a stir of emotions to the viewers, The Cove was able to successfully document the illegal trade and butchering of dolphins. It is something that the international community has to act on. It was a powerful film that showcases the interdependence of the marine and aquatic life and how it connects to humans. Moreover, such acts—massive dolphin fishing in Japan have global repercussions.

The Cove was an eye-opener that evokes action not just on government agencies and international organizations, but to individuals as well. It stresses the choices individuals could take that could affect the dolphin trade and what measures individuals could do to ensure that seafood for consumption is not contaminated by mercury. Individuals could also help in various campaigns in support to stop the whaling and dolphin hunting at the cove.

Besides butchering dolphins and whaling practices exposed, I think the best lesson that the movie was able to partake is the delicate balance of the ecosystem. It shows how man single-handedly as species has created such a damaging impact on the environment and the entire ecosystem. We are taking more than what we are able to give back to preserve our resources.

More than exposing one aspect of human exploitation, The Cove stresses the importance of moderation and on how the interdependency of the “circle of life” affects the entire ecology of man, animals, and plants. It is something that people should not take for granted.

In Retrospect

The Cove was very inspirational, especially for me to think beyond my personal problems. There are various social concerns and issues that we are facing right now that if we did not do something to address it would cause a domino effect that affects us all—whichever part of the world we live.

What is more saddening is that failure to address such concern is not because of lack of technology, or knowledge about the matter but our own indifference to the issue. People do not care or failed to care because of lack of awareness in the gravity of the effect that could be put upon them if it does not stop. To add to the complexity of the issue is the political maneuvering of the Japanese government institutions to defer the topic with regards to this problem.

Simple actions like educating yourself to the environmental concerns closest to home and global campaigns concerning the environment are causes worth taking. Like the way technology was utilize in the film to expose the cove, the technology could also be utilized in making each campaign, each cause spread to a wider-range of the audience around the globe.


Al from Australia, Hong Kong, USA on March 24, 2016:

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Nice Hub, Racing Extinction is also a great documentary.

lee custodio (author) on August 16, 2011:

@Harlan Colt: great point. There must be respect in terms of cultural practices. But then again, dolphin is not healthy for human consumption, as Gray has pointed out Dolphin have very high mercury level making it unsafe to eat.

Thank you for your wonderful insight


lee custodio (author) on June 04, 2011:

@lime light power: your welcome. glad my hub had helped in some way. quite powerful documentary.

lime light power from NY NY on May 22, 2011:

Excellent hub and good review. I keep meaning to "rent" the cove from Netflix, but have been forgetting to put it my cue... just did, thanks...

gray on March 13, 2011:

dolphin is high in mercury, dolphin consumption could lead to mercury poisoning.

Harlan Colt from the Rocky Mountains on March 10, 2011:


You are right on this, but it will take time to educate and for people to truly understand the impact they have. A wise person will harvest a sustainable level and preserve balance. Man is part of nature too, he deserves to participate, however, one does not annihilate their resources all at once. One takes a few and leaves a few to keep the population sustainable. You find your balance in the world around you.

- Nice Hub

- Harlan

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