In 2009, the documentary The Cove released onto the world the story of a small town in Japan where dolphins were being herded into a shallow, hidden cove to be hunted and captured. The film won an Academy Award and acclaim at Sundance. But this year, on Sept. 1, the dolphin hunt that film exposed resumes.
The filmmakers from The Cove estimate that more than 20,000 dolphins and porpoises are killed each year off the coast of Japan. In the one small town mentioned in the film, Taiji, 2,000 die each year. The film has raised awareness and, according to the website for The Cove, only 800 dolphins died in Taiji last year.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates there are, at minimum, 600,000 bottlenose dolphins worldwide.
Conservationists argue that there are still ongoing threats to the dolphin population, including nets that fish for tuna and sonar and munitions tests by organizations like the U.S. Navy.
So on Aug. 31, members of local conservation groups are rallying at the Japanese Consulate in Denver to protest the opening of this year’s dolphin hunting season in Japan. Denver is one of 94 cities worldwide where rallies will be organized that day.
Rally organizers say their intention is to educate the public and push to end the slaughter of dolphins in Japan. Dolphins are hunted in the waters near Japan as a tradition, a food source and a method of controlling the dolphins’ impact on local fish populations, and they are captured to be sold into dolphin shows, according to a press release from local rally organizer Heather Hintz.
Members of the Ocean Preservation Society, a nonprofit organization that creates film, photography and media — including The Cove — to inspire people to save the oceans are expected to attend, as are members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society of Whale Wars on Animal Planet and the Colorado Ocean Coalition.
The rally will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday. The Japanese Consulate is located at 1225 17th St. in Denver.