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Oscar winner 'The Cove' to become the basis of a new TV series

March 8, 2010 |  3:34 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Fans of "The Cove," the environmentally themed film that won the best documentary Oscar last night, will be happy to know there's more where that came from.

A new television series about the controversial dolphin trade in Japan, tentatively titled "Dolphin Warriors," has been greenlit by Animal Planet.

Cove The series picks up where the movie leaves off and, like the film, stars animal activist Ric O'Barry. Two episodes of the series -- which is being executive produced by O'Barry's son, Lincoln -- have already been completed, although a premiere date has yet to be announced, Ric O'Barry said.

Animal Planet says the series may premiere in the fall, after "The Cove" debuts on the channel this summer.

"The Cove" tells the story of an annual rite in Taiji, Japan, where fisherman sell dolphins into captivity or kill them for meat. As depicted in the film, the practice is cruel and the dolphin meat contains risky levels of mercury.

O'Barry is an activist who once worked as a trainer on the popular 1960s television show "Flipper." After watching a dolphin he worked with commit suicide in his arms, he came to the conclusion that dolphins were not meant to be kept in captivity. He has dedicated his life campaigning for animal rights, a quest that eventually took him to Taiji (you can read more about his efforts here).

The show will address questions that fans of the film may have wondered about -- such as whether the slaughter continues and whether the Japanese  still unknowingly eat mercury-laden dolphin meat. "What has happened now is that they're not killing dolphins in the cove; they've moved offshore," O'Barry said. "They've created an artificial cove out of nets, and they drive the dolphins in there and kill them so we can't photograph it. But we have some drones and small planes and things to prove it."

Marjorie Kaplan, general manager and president of Animal Planet, said the film's message was perfect for the channel.

"Ric and Lincoln O'Barry are fascinating men with an important mission and remarkable stories to share," she said. "We're delighted to be working with them on their next project."

Dolp If a press release issued by the government in Taiji last night is any indication, the Japanese remain unimpressed by the film's success. "There are different food traditions within Japan and around the world," read the statement. "It is important to respect and understand regional food cultures, which are based on traditions with long histories."

On the Oscar telecast, O'Barry held up a sign urging interested viewers to text message a number for more information about how to support the cause. More than 50,000 text messages have come in so far, O'Barry said.

The activist also encountered a number of celebrities at the Oscars who said they would visit Taiji next September, when the annual dolphin slaughter begins. Daryl Hannah, Sting and Ben Stiller have already pledged their support, he said.

Until then, O'Barry, now 70, is heartened by the fact that the film will be released at a limited number of Japanese movie theaters in June.

"They can't deny this film anymore," he said. "The last couple of months have meant validation, in a word. It's been a breakthrough for me."

Check out my video with the film's director, Louie Psihoyos, and O'Barry from the red carpet last night:

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo credits: (From top) Junji Kurokawa / Associated Press; Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (36)

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consuming cetacean flesh is no more than cannibalism I live with them and it is time they are seen as our counterparts in the sea come on children of Japan you can stop this insanity

Will your next documentary deal with cattle feed lots in the U.S.?

What's the difference? Are dolphins cuter? I think cow are kind of cute, too.

My understanding of this brutal practice is that it is not solely for food purposes or scientific purposes; historically, dolphins have been thought of as competition by fishermen in this area - so this yearly "ritual" has no basis in fact, just a practice that has been going on for decades and has no rational basis for continuing. Much like wolf slaughter in the Western US - based on irrational superstition, and competition for food and of course the almighty $$$.

As far as interfering with other's countries traditions and way of life - that might have had some meaning centuries ago - but our modern world is different. Animals and sea creatures' numbers are dwindling, while human numbers ever increase - putting a strain on the planet and it's other inhabitants in many ways - by the year 2012 it is estimated that the human population will reach 7 billion. It's not the same world it once was - and if steps aren't taken, whales, polar bears, wolves and other creatures with as much right to live on Earth as we do will disappear.

It's not the same thing - cattle and other animals raised for food are not in danger of extinction, and whether you assign a moral value to eating other animals or not (I don't eat red meat or pork) - it's all carefully controlled. What's going on in Japan isn't based on anything but tradition and ritual as far as I understand - this is just something that has been done for generations and the dolphins considered competition for the fish by the fishermen. It is tradition and only being done because that's what's always been done - no other basis. It also goes on in Denmark as a coming of age ritual. These practices have no relevance to modern society.

To Glen (who questioned how a movie with a political agenda is even considered a docu)...
you seem to be missing the point. If someone doesn't respect a life form (doesn't really matter what type of of life form) then chances are, they will not respect a human. Just like people who beat a dog or cat (or worse) generally are the ones involved in beating (or worse) other humans. THeres a larger dynamic at play here. Open your eyes to the real message.

I wrote about this from the perspective of the Japanese on my blog:

But there are a few arguments in this comment section that I did not cover.

Extinction: The whales and dolphins that the Japanese are slaughtering are not the species in danger of extinction.

Depletion of marine life: If the argument of the film is an environmental concern, then let's look at the big picture, not just this small instance of dolphins. When we consider the amount of damages that each nation is causing to the environment, the US is one of the worst. The Americans are in no position to point their fingers at any other nations. If they want other countries to conform to their own values and standards, they need to work on fixing their own problems before hypocritically pointing fingers at others. Also, keep in mind Japan's human population is rapidly declining. The Japanese are certainly not ignorant of environmental concerns and have been better about it than the Americans. So, picking just a specific instance is not a fair way to negotiate and work together to resolve the environmental issue.

Extinction: The whales and dolphins that the Japanese are slaughtering are not the species in danger of extinction.

Maybe not yet they aren't (and I think that is up for debate) - but with ever- increasing pressures from humanity, there's no way to predict what can happen to these animals. We also don't know what other environmental problems they could be subject to - disease, beaching themselves, etc. Just blugeoning them to death is unnecessarily cruel and inhumane, don't you think? Aren't we better than that? As far as competition for fish, humans are the ones to blame for that. Overpopulation is a world-wide problem, and America is the third most populous nation after China and India.

As far as Americans being hypocritical and with enough of our own problems, I'd be the first to agree with you - but please don't use us as example to emulate. :)


It does not matter if Sea World uses animals bred in captivity...dolphins and other animals are still not meant to live in cages/tanks where they can not properly socialize and exercise. It is animal cruelty. More than one Sea World trainer has been killed by an animal in the past year. Sea World hurts people and animals.

I was just shocked on this subject. Now of course my grandfather has been telling me about this for years; but the way the movie was filmed was amazing. At what makes this "documentary" so good is that it feels like a movie. Obviously there needs to be changes, no doubt about it. Am glad this movie won an oscar and the sundance award because now more people are going to watch it.

This may actaully start a movement and i will proudly join it

I am a Japanese person. Everyone, please realize that most of Japanese people do not eat dolphin meat. Most of Japanese people didn't even know that some people hunt and eat dolphins in Japan until this movie The Cove released. There are few places where dolphin hunting is taking place in Japan and you can find dolphin meat only in these places. In other places in Japan, you hardly see dolphin meat in stores or supermarkets. I just joined Ric O'Barry's lecture yesterday in Tokyo.
I really want to help him.

I am glad I saw this film. This film is only a "documentary" for one man's purgatory journey to his own guilt on the dolphin he cared for and he lost. Intension is not bad but creating an "evil" by using a small town where nobody takes side and have no voice that reaches to international society (since they do not speak English) to justify his own "good deed" is utterly disgusting. Good documentary films show the facts from both sides and never reply on lies or faking subtitles just like this one does... but then some people simply like to be told what to think. The whole film is on Youtube if anyone actually cares. Only vegetarians have right to condemn dolphin hunt. Not the others.

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