The Cove: Dolphins in Japan

As you may have noticed, I have been watching a lot of Netflix documentaries. While I was searching for a new documentary to watch, The Cove kept coming up as a must see.

The Cove is set in Taiji, Japan where there has been substantial business for fishermen through dolphin hunting. At first I was skeptical because in the United States we have commercialized meat and kill cows and pigs at an increasingly alarming rate with a very low quality of life for the animals. I thought that maybe this documentary was only focused on dolphins because they were a more love-able and a human-friendly species. To me I thought, what is really the big difference between the mass killing of cows for consumption in the United States from the mass killing of dolphins in Japan for consumption. Wouldn’t I as an American be a hypocrite to condemn them for these killings if I didn’t also condemn the United States for the production of beef? (I do prefer free-range meat though…)

As an animal lover, I was glad this documentary had the facts to back up their argument. Come to find out, dolphins have such a high level of mercury that their meat is toxic to eat. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the approved amount of mercury in any type of meat is .4 ppm (parts per million). In dolphin meat, the level of mercury is 2000 ppm! Who would eat this meat (?) you may ask.. it seems that not many people want it. In the documentary, the activists talked to Japanese citizens living the the big cities, and they were shocked to hear that people were eating dolphin meat. The activists also visited several different meat markets in Japan and bought all different types of whale meat (dolphin is considered in the whale family) to run tests. What the scientists found was that some expensive healthy whale meat was mislabeled and what they were really buying was dolphin meat. They also found, from two brave Japan council members, that the meat was given away free to the public school system for children to have for lunch.

What’s more worrisome is that eating this meat is like eating toxins. Having too much mercury can result in memory loss, loss of hearing, and loss of sight. The toxins slowly degrade the neurological system and can have dangerous consequences. Japan is no stranger to mercury poisoning either! In the 1950’s a town in Japan by the name of Minamata came down with a lot of sick children who had extreme neurological damage. They soon found out that they had a high level of mercury poisoning from a chemical company that was dumping their waste-water into the local bay. This then caused the shellfish and fish to become tainted with high levels of mercury, which were then consumed by the people. Many of the pregnant women who ate this toxic seafood (and seafood is an integral part to the Japanese diet) would give birth to sick children. They eventually deemed this sickness the Minamata disease, but it is really nothing more than extreme mercury poisoning.

To add insult to injury, the method that the dolphins are being killed is very inhumane and cruel. In the documentary they place hidden cameras to obtain raw footage of the slaughter, and it is very difficult to watch as these mammals are stabbed and speared with no skill.

Dolphins have proven that they are cognitive, creative, and caring mammals. There is no benefit to their captivity and we should put a stop to their needless slaughter.

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