I watched The Cove again today because I am going to mail a copy of it to a few acquaintances. The first is an older gentleman who I recently met at a family gathering. He cares for wildlife and the world around him very much. After talking to him for a while I learned that he considers himself very informed about issues regarding animals and their welfare. He had never heard of The Cove. The documentary that depicts the slaughter of thousands of dolphins in the small town of Taiji, Japan. He was intrigued to learn that nearly 20,000 dolphins are killed each year in Japan. The ones that survive will watch and listen as every member of their family is killed and then they will be sold for around $150,000 and go on to perform tricks in marine parks and swim with the dolphin programs. I am not sure which fate is worse. The other copy of The Cove is being mailed to an old friend, who I recently learned went on vacation and paid to swim with dolphins. I don’t blame her for being unaware that her money is the reason why the slaughter in Taiji continues every year. Marine parks are not advertising their involvement, whether direct or indirect, in the live capture of cetaceans. But the truth is that they are involved. Every marine park, every resort that offers you the chance to swim with dolphins, every single aquarium that keeps cetaceans in captivity is responsible for what happens in Taiji. Captive dolphin populations are not self sustaining so of course more need to be caught and sold in order to keep concrete tanks full. The owners of the marine parks are also ensuring their pockets stay full too.
I know that a lot of the bad or immoral things that occur in our world, happen simply because a handful of people consider profit and power to be worth more than decency and truth. Society is fed a twisted version of the truth in order to maintain a certain level of ignorance. Let me give you an example of this. If you walk into the “Dolphin Habitat” at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas, you will be given an informational brochure about dolphins as you proceed to watch these amazing animals swim around a glorified swimming pool. The hotel will talk about conservation and put on this whole show about education, all the while distracting every single person from the actual truth about their establishment. The hotel is in Las Vegas, which is in a desert….with no oceans anywhere nearby. It is the most ridiculous thing to call a concrete tank in the desert a “dolphin habitat”. I can’t imagine that the Mirage tells guests of the chemicals added to the tanks in order to help with germs that wild dolphins would never be exposed to in the ocean. I am also guessing that they forget to mention that captive dolphins are fed a diet of dead fish, which is the opposite of the live fish diet they get in the wild. There is probably nobody talking about the medicine that gets added to their food to deal with the ulcers and other ailments they suffer from due to stress. I am sure they “educate” people about how dolphins and whales come to the surface to breathe and therefore breathe the same air as us. Well lucky for the dolphins of Vegas they live next to a freeway and get to take in all that traffic pollution with every breath they take. I am also willing to bet that not a single visitor upon entering the dolphin area hears the greeter say, “Hello, welcome to the Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage, also known as the Dolphin Death Pool. Please enjoy our dolphins as they swim in countless circles around their concrete tank, but don’t get too attached because 14 of our dolphins have died since 1990. Enjoy”. And this ignorance is not society’s fault in my opinion. Every news outlet spends countless hours everyday talking about everything except issues like mass dolphins slaughters, shark finning, or bears being farmed for their bile. People have told me its because nobody wants to hear about that when they sit down on the couch after a hard day at work. Except, the news is full of stories about shootings, rape, missing children who are feared dead or natural disasters that result in huge death tolls. So here is my question: How are those stories any better? Why not take a few minutes and educate people about the atrocities happening to those with no voice at all. I truly believe that people have good intentions. I have to believe this, otherwise there is no hope. If someone goes to swim with dolphins it’s because they love them and want to have an up close experience with such an amazing animal. That individual isn’t aware of their own ignorance. But once you do know the truth, once you have even a glimmer of an idea that something is not right, then a choice must be made. I just wonder what choice will be made by people like my old friend who will unexpectedly get a package containing a copy of The Cove. Will she watch it and pledge to never take her grand kids to Sea World? Or will she feel like that is sad and terrible, but not change a single thought or action in her life. My greatest fear for our world is that she will choose the second one.