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Film / The Cove

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The Cove is a 2009 documentary directed by Louie Psihoyos, which won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary.

It documents the practices of the small town of Taiji, Japan, a Real-Life Town with a Dark Secret. Every year, fishermen in Taiji drive thousands of dolphins into a small secretive cove, where they are slaughtered. The documentary revolves around a small crew of American and Canadian filmakers who try to find ways to plant cameras to document these horrible killings. It was followed up by a new series headed by Ric O'Barry, Blood Dolphins.


  • The Atoner: Ric O'Barry, who went from being a celebrated dolphin trainer to an uncompromising activist to free dolphins from aquariums, as well as to expose the Taiji dolphin killings.
  • Avengers Assemble: The team is introduced as experts in their field, with a shout out to Ocean's Eleven.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: How the Cove looks like once the cull starts.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The International Whaling Commission members from small Caribbean countries who appear to have traded their votes for financial support from Japan.
  • Driven to Suicide: Ric Barry claims that one of the dolphins that he trained for Flipper committed suicide by ceasing to breathe.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: When visiting a local shrine where people look at arranged rocks, the team gets the idea to hide cameras inside decoy rocks.
  • Give Me a Reason: The activists and fishers are in a passive aggressive Mexican Standoff to catch the other ones doing something illegal on tape.
  • Heroic Dolphin: Mentioned. One of the activists is a surfer who was once saved from a shark by a dolphin.
  • Hidden Wire: The aquaphone hidden in the seabed, and the cameras disguised as rocks.
  • Honor Before Reason: Activist group Sea Shepherd tried to film the Taiji massacre few years earlier, but got caught because some members decided to cut the nets and release the dolphins before the cull could start.
  • The Ken Burns Effect: Used for still photos of Rick O'Barry on the set of Flipper.
  • May Contain Evil: Dolphin meat (that has dangerous levels of mercury) is sold off as much healthier, if still questionable, whale meat.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Much of Taiji's council, which apparently has an intentionally complicated bureaucracy system to make it hard for outsiders to get any footage of the Taiji dolphin kill.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Private Space.
  • Properly Paranoid: Ric O'Barry, who director Louie Psihoyas thinks is a bit of a kook when he talks about being constantly observed in Taiji and how the fishermen would probably kill him if they could get away with it. Then Louie starts to notice he's being followed around town by mysterious cars...
  • Revealing Cover-Up: The cull is covered up with very little justification. The authorities just tell people they cannot go to certain areas on the days it takes place, and the fishermen just hold up signs saying "No photography".
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Taiji itself.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?