“They call him Flipper/ Flipper, faster than lightning/ No one you see, is smarter than he/ And we know Flipper lives in a world full of wonder/ lying there under/ under the sea!”
Au contraire. The recently released, award-winning, documentary The Cove reveals that the world of Flipper and all of his marine mammal friends isn’t actually so wonderful.
The film, recipient of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, takes us to Taiji, Japan, where fisherman, fueled by the money pouring out of the dolphin entertainment industry and the black market for dolphin meat, hunt the playful creatures in the secret depths of the night.
Ric O’ Barry, the man who trained the five dolphins who played Flipper, filmmaker Louis Psihoyos, and the Ocean Preservation Society put together a team of underwater sound and camera experts, marine explorers, and world-class free divers to carry out an Ocean’s 11-style undercover operation to document what really happens behind the “keep-out” signs and barbed-wire fences of the cove. The end product looks like it may have the cinematic appeal of Planet Earth, the thrill and suspense of a good action film, and the call-to-action of The 11th Hour.
On Mon., Aug. 24, the Terrace Theatre will be screening the film, and joining them will be filmmaker Philippe Cousteau, grandson of the famed French oceanographer and filmmaker Jacques-Yves Cousteau, will be speaking about the film and dolphin crises in Japan after the 5:30 screening and before the 7:30 showing.
Marine issues in Japan may strike you as a bit too removed, but Cousteau is looking out for our dolphins too. “South Carolina has a strong marine heritage and a dynamic, and beautiful environment,” he says. “We hope to enhance ocean and marine mammal education and conservation throughout the state.”
If you’re still angry Flipper went off the air in ’67 and miss watching these intelligent, compassionate creatures do their tricks, then this is your chance to see them in their element and maybe help them out too.