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Louie Psihoyos Headshot

Australians Take a Stand Against Japanese City's Dolphin-Hunting Practice

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I directed the movie The Cove, a documentary about an unlikely team of activists that come together to help former Flipper trainer Ric O'Barry penetrate and expose a secret cove in Taiji, Japan.

Over the past year, I have been amazed at people's ability to use their voices to make a difference, and the events of last week in Australia stand out as one of the greatest moments in this young film's history. Broome residents took a courageous stand against the actions of their Japanese sister city Taiji, and I commend them. This is a win not only for the Japanese people and the dolphins, but also for the people of Broome, who realized they have the power to change a horrible wrong.

The Cove exposes not just a horrific yearly hunt, but humans knowingly poisoning other humans by slipping dolphin meat into the food system. Dolphin meat is through-the-roof toxic because of high levels of mercury, the most toxic non-radioactive element in the world. Dolphins have anywhere from five to 5,000 times more mercury than allowed by law.

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Despite this, the Taiji mayor and his council had a scheme in place to distribute toxic dolphin meat to school systems all over Japan. Ric O'Barry, his organization Earth Island Institute/Save Japan Dolphins and my organization Oceanic Preservation Society had a small hand in ending that dreadful scenario through the help of two Taiji councilmen, one of whom had children in the school system. They tested the meat and found it had more than a dozen times more mercury than allowed by Japanese law. They demanded the meat be removed from the school system.

To this day, the Taiji mayor continues to allow over a thousand tons of dolphin meat to be sold throughout Japan under the guise of "scientific whale" meat. The Japanese government continues to position its argument for killing dolphins as a cultural issue and insist that we, as outsiders, should respect their tradition. But this is no tradition -- the dolphin drive has only been going on since 1933. The tradition argument falls apart when human lives and health are severely threatened, and people must take a stand.

September 1st is coming up, the beginning of the yearly dolphin hunt in Taiji. With a little more pressure, we can put an end to a sad chapter in human history and create a new one where we have respect for the environment and other humans. The Cove is not just $10 and a box of popcorn -- it's an attempt to use the most powerful medium in the world to inspire change. One person can make a difference, and a few like-minded people can change the world. Just like the people of Broome.

To the people of Australia, much respect, good on ya.

And to the rest of the world: the secret is out, spread the word.

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