The Cove begins in Taiji, Japan, where former dolphin trainer Ric Oâ€™Barry has come to set things right after a long search for redemption. In the 1960s, it was Oâ€™Barry who captured and trained the 5 dolphins who played the title character in the international television sensation Flipper.
But his close relationship with those dolphins â€“ the very dolphins who sparked a global fascination with trained sea mammals that continues to this day — led Oâ€™Barry to a radical change of heart. One fateful day, a heartbroken Barry came to realize that these deeply sensitive, highly intelligent and self-aware creatures so beautifully adapted to life in the open ocean must never be subjected to human captivity again. This mission has brought him to Taiji, a town that appears to be devoted to the wonders and mysteries of the sleek, playful dolphins and whales that swim off their coast.
But in a remote, glistening cove, surrounded by barbed wire and â€œKeep Outâ€ signs, lies a dark reality. It is here, under cover of night, that the fishermen of Taiji, driven by a multi-billion dollar dolphin entertainment industry and an underhanded market for mercury-tainted dolphin meat, engage in an unseen hunt. The nature of what they do is so chilling — and the consequences are so dangerous to human health — they will go to great lengths to halt anyone from seeing it.
Undeterred, Oâ€™Barry joins forces with filmmaker Louis Psihoyos and the Oceanic Preservation Society to get to the truth of whatâ€™s really going on in the cove and why it matters to everyone in the world. With the local Chief of Police hot on their trail and strong-arm fishermen keeping tabs on them, they will recruit an Ocean’s Eleven-style team of underwater sound and camera experts, special-effects artists, marine explorers, adrenaline junkies and world-class free divers who will carry out an undercover operation to photograph the off-limits cove, while playing a cloak-and-dagger game with those who would have them jailed. The result is a provocative mix of investigative journalism, eco-adventure and arresting imagery that adds up to an urgent plea for hope.