“The Cove” Debate — Response from TakePart

By Dyske    March 19th, 2010

The Cove

The following is a response I received from Laurel Angelica, Content Editor for TakePart.com (owned by Participant Media which produced “The Cove”), who sent me a free copy of “The Cove” to review. (Thank you, Laurel.) This is in response to my criticism of the film last week.

Hi Dyske,

I apologize for being so late in responding. We kindly ask that if you are going to use this, that you reprint it in its entirety. Thank you for taking the time to provide thoughtful analysis of the film, even if you didn’t agree with the subject matter.

The most important point we want to respond to – and it’s the heart of your entire piece – is that this film is NOT meant to be an indictment of the Japanese people. Completely the opposite. We’ve tried to make that clear in the film and in all of our marketing materials. It is very specifically exposing a small group of people – we maintain throughout the film that the greater population is unaware (please refer to the first campaign posts on this issue from seven months ago).

Overall the filmmakers primary assertions are:

  1. this group of fisherman is brutally and inhumanely killing dolphins, a highly evolved species that is beloved worldwide (including in Japan)
  2. they were deceiving the Japanese public by disguising the meat, which is highly toxic, as whale meat and serving it to children
  3. if the Japanese public knew this was happening they would want to stop it

We know the first two assertions to be fact. We hope the third will be a reality soon.

To address some of your points:

Western point of view:

Again, most importantly, we are not West vs. East, we are activist vs. inactivist. This is an issue of humanity, not culture. It’s important to note that Earth Island (Ric’s organization) was very influential in drawing attention to US Tuna companies that were capturing large numbers of dolphins in their fishing nets many years ago. Concerned citizens pressured these Tuna companies and changes were made. These companies made major changes in fishing techniques to adopt dolphin safe fishing methods. If they hadn’t, one can only imagine what the current dolphin populations would be (if any). Point being, we are more than happy to shine a light on ourselves and have done so often.

Cows/Chickens vs. Dolphins:

While not all species of dolphins are endangered, many are depleted, vulnerable and few species have been studied in order to assess the impact of killing at current levels. Our organizations are not promoting eating cows or chickens but just in terms of the overall population and methods – cows and chickens can be raised for food. They reproduce in captivity, while dolphins are wild species. Many independent scientific studies have shown that dolphins and other mammals highly evolved and self aware. A dolphin in the cove can take hours to die, in pain and aware of the pain of those in its pod (family). The hunting methods are inordinately cruel, with death times far in excess of any slaughterhouse situations.


Your post is surprisingly absent of any real reference to this. The film makes an important point that the burning of fossil fuels worldwide (not just Japan) has essentially poisoned our Oceans and contaminated much of the food supply, most notably coastal fish populations that are the primary food source for dolphins. As a result, mercury levels in dolphins are exponentially higher. They are not a SAFE source of food – they are toxic in fact. Residents in Taiji are showing that they have 10 times the acceptable level or mercury in their systems.


We absolutely love Japan, respect and believe that we should celebrate each others cultures. But as an evolving species (man), does it make sense to perpetuate a brutal “tradition” that has no real benefit to the greater population?

Thank you again for your time and consideration. We look forward to continuing this dialogue with you, and others in Japan who may have concerns. Ultimately, we just hope that people will see the film, decide for themselves and discuss with others. Ultimately, it’s up to the Japanese people. Not only do we respect that, we have the utmost faith in it.

You might also be interested in this article that went up this week in The Japan Times. It would be interesting to get your thoughts.

Laurel Angelica, Content Editor, TakePart.com

4 Responses

  1. Amber says:

    I just wanted to respond briefly by stating that the documentary was incredible and has motivated me to stand up and want to do something about it. perhaps shed light to the “un-lightened” about such a matter, but what i was upset about was that the documentary neglected to mention what is occurring in Denmark. What about The Faroe Islands and their brutal killings of hundreds of dolphins a year? What about them? Why were they not used to inform people about what is occurring in their Country? If we want to inform people about dolphins and are wanting their safety and security in the world then the research should have been extended to inform the viewers of about other countries that have been involved in this terrible act.

    Thank you

  2. davidattokyo says:

    Amber, this is one of the saddest things about this argument, & something the Japanese try to use as an excuse for what they do. If you have a murderer or child molester living in your neighborhood do you accept his argument someone else is doing it so it OK for me to? We are all responsible for our own actions, we cannot use the argument somebody did it so it OK for me to do it as well, it would NEVER stand up in court.

    Secondly the Faroe Islands are also copping much petitioning from overseas, despite Japan media saying it is a racist attack on Japan. There are many petitions on the internet regarding Faroe Islands, just as there is with Japan, so this is not a racial argument. The Faroe Islands also kill much less than the Japanese, NOT to say that is an argument to support them, but simply to say they DO NOT use the meat for fertilizer or pet food, then to turn around & say “this is our tradition”? Does this mean that centuries ago Japanese hunted dolphins as fertilizer & dog food? Is that their argument? Because that is the FACT of what is happening now.

    To further extentuate this is the fact, the rest of the world, except Norway, & Iceland, accepted the IWC moratorium, & ban on the commercial hunting of whales. While Norway, & Iceland still hunt, they do so in their own territorial waters, & NOT in a designated whale sanctuary. They also do not LIE to the rest of the world saying it is “research”. Japan however thinks it can treat the rest of the world as fools, & lie directly over their annual hunts, & hunt in a designated sanctuary, & Japans hunting of small cetaceans,(dolphins), rose to 40,000 the very year they accepted the global moratorium on whaling! Still to this year they slaughter over 40,000 dolphins annually! So instead of moving on with the rest of the world, they now hunt many more small cetaceans locally, & label it as “whale meat” in supermarkets! If the Japanese people are truely happy, & consider it a “tradition” to eat dolphin meat, then why not label it as dolphin in super markets where these people buy these products? Why deceive & lie to label it is something it is not?


  3. davidattokyo says:

    Sorry, that was meant to say they still slaughter over 20,000 annually, not 40,000 still, my typo… & I am willing to accept my mistakes, unlike certain other countries…

  4. UG says:

    Hello Laurel Angelica
    I really appreciate your candid response to Dyske’s “The Cove” Debate — From the Japanese Perspective
    Growing up on the west coast USA I feel I share much of your peace and love sentiments, product of our 60’s and 70’s hippie parents. I did also grow up in Japan and my descendants are from the Peninsula that Taijii is located.

    The most difficult or rather interesting part of living with a foot in 2 worlds is that I feel, hear and understand both sides.

    Yes, a beached dolphin being “slowly” speared to death is quite a shocking sight
    Much like when you mentioned how we in North America made a move to label Tuna “dolphin safe”
    We in the United States had these images of dolphins tangled and slowly suffocating in drift and gill nets.

    I did want to mention one thing about tradition
    The way whales and dolphins are part of my cultural tradition

    Whale and Dolphin protein, meat, has never been in my diet nor the vast majority of my fellow Japanese and Americans.
    But one thing that I distinctly remember as tradition was Whale whiskers.
    Centuries ago till and till this day only as tradition, Clock smiths of Japan prized the rigid yet flexible whiskers. These whiskers were used to make spiral springs which powered centuries old machines.

    I can attest that these Arts are part of Japanese tradition.

    The watch I wear on my wrist is battery powered and most likely will never own a whale whisker powered machine but I have a part of me that does see the importance of preserving our Arts and Heritage.

    I felt that the Art and Tradition of the Japanese Whaler and how each part of the Whale having a purpose was
    somewhat disregarded and the only focus of the movie was on cruelty and the consumption of mercury laden protein.

    Why did this film focus on 26 individuals in Japan?
    So if japan was the Focus why was the focus just on meat and not on the Traditions?
    Why did the film never depict the temples, graves for whales and the fact that the animals are revered, respected and clearly held in higher regard than we in american give our pet dogs.

    I understand that we all have jobs and are busy but I would really appreciate info regarding film footage regarding the Japanese Tradition and not just the bloody water

    Thank you for your time