The Cove

2009 | Documentary | 92 minutes | English, Japanese with English subtitles


The Cove focuses on the slaughtering of thousands of dolphins every year by Japanese whaling companies. They herd migrating dolphins into a cove where they are netted and speared to death. Why is this happening? Dolphins are easier to find and kill than whales. So whaling companies cheat their customers by mislabeling dolphin meat as whale meat. But more egregious is that the whaling companies know that the dolphin flesh has a high concentration of mercury. Knowingly, they are also selling their customers a contaminated food product. Ric O’Barry was the trainer of dolphins for the hit TV show “Flipper.” Ric became aware that the capture and captivity of dolphins was cruel and devastating. He subsequently switched careers and decided to be an advocate on behalf of dolphins. In Taiji, Japan, the local  government and police officials tried to block his research. Ric was shadowed, intimidated, and threatened. But, fortunately, Ric and director Louie Psihoyos, at great risk, secretly filmed  the slaughter of dolphins. The result is the film The Cove, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary and top awards in almost every major film festival.

Major Participants
Ric O’Barry / Louie Psihoyos
Why Stream This Film?
You can say that The Cove is a wake-up call. If you love dolphins and the ocean, the slaughter at Taiji in Japan is something you want to know about. Those filming and producing this film put their lives on the line to reveal the horrors of what happens to playful dolphins year after year. It’s an eye-opening example that animals are not ours to use and abuse.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 95%
  • Metacritic Score: 84
  • Academy Awards, USA: Winner, Best Documentary
  • Winner, Best Documentary: Boston Society of Film Critics; Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics; Denver Film Critics Society; Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival; Houston Film Critics Society; Los Angeles Film Critics Association
  • National Board of Review, USA: Winner, Best Documentary
  • Directors Guild of America, USA: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary (Louie Psihoyos)
  • Sundance Film Festival: Winner, Best Documentary
  • Writers Guild of America, USA: Winner, Best Documentary Screenplay (Mark Monroe)
THE COVE, a heartbreaking documentary, describes how Richard O’Barry (trainer of dolphins on the Flipper TV show) and director Louie Psihoyos and a team of adventurers penetrated the tight security around the Taiji cove and obtained forbidden footage of the mass slaughter of dolphins. The logistics of their operation, captured by night-vision cameras at times, has the danger and ingenuity of a caper film. The stakes are high, perhaps a year in prison. The footage will temper the enjoyment of your next visit to see performing dolphins.
Roger Ebert

The great strength of this documentary about the covert killing of wild dolphins in Japan is its aesthetics: artful edits, zippy music, even a few jokes. It’s also a remarkable portrait of ceaseless conscience purging. O’Barry’s big, wet eyes haunt you even longer than that ocean of blood.
Catherine Shoard

The Guardian

Louie Psihoyos, a former National Geographic still photographer, delivers a gripping, powerful and heart-wrenching expose of abhorrent Japanese fishing practices.
Mike Scott

The Times-Picayune

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