Going vegetarian or vegan can be quite a commitment, so how do you decide and more importantly, how do you maintain your momentum during the shaky transition period?
Vegucated explores the world of beginner veganism from the perspective of 3 different individuals from New York, all with different reasons. While the producer herself is along for the journey and provides much of the up front educational and overview commentary, she is absent for much of the meat (pardon the pun) of the movie.
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The Pipe is your classic David vs Goliath story, except that it’s not. It follows a small Rossport community fighting against an invasion by Shell Oil and the Irish State. Gas found off the remote coastal village prompted a clash between farmers, fisherman and huge numbers of private security and police.
Behind the scenes, you experience the tragic division of community, neighbors and friends when things turn dire. 5 locals decide to spend 94 days in jail when faced with an ‘eminent domain’ situation, protesting the pipeline’s path across their farming fields and land.
All seems lost for this town of age-old way community residents, with trades and a way of life passed down for generations. Beat in the courts, on their land and with seemingly no recourse for the destruction of their livelihood, desperation is apparent and a true theme of the film. › Continue reading
I was fortunate to catch a screener of The Cove at a local arts movie theater in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle just a few days after its release. My overall feeling for the film was a bit melancholy as they tend to be with all activist documentaries attempting to highlight the plight of a species, but the content and footage is undeniably impactful and well done. Similar to the shark finning documentary Sharkwater is to sharks, this dolphin exploitation and slaughter movie can be very eye opening and heartbreaking.
The movie is well constructed with a balance of fairly intense and exciting cloak-and-dagger edge-of-your-seat excitement in the real-time plot, with the somewhat drier, but very informative interviews and research segments inherent in documentaries. The heart of the film lies Richard O’Barry, who could be to blame for much of what goes on in the movie, much like Peter Benchley, the creator of ‘Jaws’ was for sharks. O’Barry was the dolphin trainer for the Flipper TV series and throughout the 60′s, promoted dolphins as entertainers. It was through his work with dolphins that he became their largest proponent and activist.
- Director: Louie Psihoyos
- Writer: Mark Monroe
- Release Date: July 31, 2009
- Genre: Documentary
- Runtime: 92 min
- Country: USA
- Language: English
- Rating: PG-13
- Cast: Joe Chisholm, Mandy-Rae Cruikshank, Charles Hambleton, Simon Hutchins, Kirk Krack, Isabel Lucas, Richard O’Barry, Hayden Panettiere, Roger Payne, John Potter, Louie Psihoyos, Dave Rastovich, Paul Watson
The documentary takes place primarily in the small fishing village of Taiji, Japan- home to ‘The Cove’. The cove is a naturally hidden bay where dolphins are herded and then slaughtered, out of public view (and there is great effort to see that it remains that way).
Filmed with camouflaged cameras, remote controlled helicopters, planted underwater cameras and microphones, the crew was constantly under pressure and scrutiny for their activities.
Now, if you plan on seeing it (which i highly recommend by the way) and do not want to know anything further, then stop reading now and go see it. Then, come back after you see it, read the rest and comment whether you agree or disagree with the rest of the article. Otherwise, read on!
Where I begin to take issue is that you cannot help but think ‘what makes dolphins so special?’ We slaughter pigs, cows, fish and many other species for food, why should we think of dolphins any different? The ‘face factor’, as many call it is the, is the preferential treatment we give to cute animals. The film addresses this point very well in fact and re-directs your attention to the practice that occurs before the slaughter- the process of selecting dolphins for dolphinariums and dolphin encounters.
One of my favorite times of the year is when the Shark Week series airs on The Discovery Channel. Having always wanted to go into Shark Biology/Ecology, this show lets me dream of what might have been. The first show I watched was the 10 Deadliest Sharks and I was a bit surprised at some of those that made the list. Given that there are less than 5 sharks that are really considered ‘man eaters’, the 5 others are just added to back-fill the list. From least aggressive to most aggressive, here are the 2009 Shark Weeks 10 Deadliest Sharks.
10 Deadliest Sharks:
10. Lemon Shark (Negaprion brevirostris)
9. Blue Shark (Prionace glauca)
8. Great Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna mokarran)
7. Sand Tiger Shark (Carcharias taurus)
6. Grey Reef Shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos)
5. Shortfin Mako (Isurus oxyrinchus)
4. Ocean White Tip (Carcharhinus longimanus)
3. Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier)
2. Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias)
1. Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas)
Admittedly, I missed the first part of the show when these less notorious sharks were explored and explained, but having swam with Grey Reef sharks several times, they really are pretty docile. Just like any other animal, when threatened, a flight-or-fight response kicks in, and in the case of a big fish with teeth- you could get hurt.
Grey Reef sharks are fairly unique in that they will openly display when they are uneasy and feel threatened with an arched back and quick darting movements. You don’t have to be a shark biologist to understand what is going on, as the behavior itself looks sketchy.
It was no surprise to me that the Bull Shark ended up on top again this year as they have actually attacked while being filmed for the Shark Week series. Large, powerful and found even in rivers including the Ganges in India, the Amazon in South America, the Zambezi in Africa and the Mississippi in the US. They were even found in Lake Ponchartrain after Hurricane Katrina.
Here is a sampling of what is being circulated around the green blogosphere, hand picked by the Chic Ecologist. Some of these deserve their own posts, so you may see a more in-depth look soon.
I love the ocean, and I am really getting into Blue August, a new awareness campaign put together by Planet Green diving into everything water. From sharks, whales, sustainable fishing and ocean geoengineering, to diminishing aquifers, desertification, pollution solutions and water footprints, its a month of information, action and activities. Hopefully it will help us keep from adding to the Pacific Trash Island.
An interesting new documentary movie opening today that takes a hard look at the slaughter of dolphins in a hidden cove in Taiji, Japan. The Cove looks to be a film about dolphins much like Sharkwater was for sharks. I’ll be sure to catch it as soon as I can and you can expect to see a film review posted soon.
Rock/Rap/Country singer and celebrity Kid Rock has released his own beer, and its green! A surprise to most, it has more to do with the practices of the brewer, Michigan Brewing Company. Biodiesel harvested from the nearby college campus cafeterias of Michigan State University power the brewery generators, and even fuel the companies fleet. The mash waste leftover from brewing American Baddass Beer is then sold to nearby farmers as feed.
While its no New Belgium Brewery, its good to see the macro-brewers getting in on the green scene. To be rolled out nationwide this year
If you love to eat beef, then you may want to take a look at the Beef Amazon Deforestation article by David Cleary of The Nature Conservency. It’s not a PETA piece or a slaughter video, but rather an interesting look at how beef has changed our environment and the landscape of the Amazon. The complexity of managing a conservation effort with the needs and desires of farmers and consumers- the push and pull of supply and demand is astounding. It is a frustrating place that many career conservationists, including myself, find themselves in. Although I read this article a while back, it has really stuck with me and is worth the read.
Image: Smoke from burning tropical forest in Para state, Brazil. Credit: leoffreitas through a Creative Commons license.
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Awhile back I was all excited about an independent documentary coming out presenting the true face of sharks and their precarious future. Luckily it was screening in Seattle, so I was able to catch it in its full movie screen glory. I checked Netflix a few days ago and noticed that it is out and available on DVD and even Blu-Ray (it was filmed all in HD, so the Blu-Ray is defiantly worth it).
Sharkwater is an epic visual journey into the oceans exposing the beauty and the peril of sharks worldwide. Rob Stewart’s aim was to create an anti-Jaws, in other words, an attempt to dispel the myths and urban legends associated with sharks (an odd little side note is the extreme regret by Peter Benchley, the creator of ‘Jaws’, for having caused an almost hysteria driven hunt and destruction of sharks everywhere leading him to be an outspoken shark conservation advocate).
- Genre: Documentary
- Running time: 89 min.
- Director: Rob Stewart
- Studio: Alliance Films
- Producer: Rob Stewart
- Cast: Rob Stewart, Paul Watson, Dr. Erich Ritter, Susan Backlinie, Godfrey Merlin, Mark Butler, Dr. Boris Worm, William Goh, Vic Hislop, Dr. Samuel Gruber, Rex Weyler, Carlos Perez Cembrero, Patrick Moore, Lisa Anastario, Larissa Gilligan
I found the movie to be visually stunning, with several long cuts of gorgeous underwater vistas, schooling hammerheads and more. The cinematography is very well done and is not unlike those you would see in the BBC’s Planet Earth with life-like sharpness and amazing colors so you feel as if you are immersed underwater. The main focus of this movie centers around the barbaric practice of shark ‘finning’. Near and dear to my heart, it is the practice that, thankfully, is gaining some recognition (probably in part due to this movie).
The ‘plot’ is interesting, and includes some time on the Sea Shepard Society’s boat with Captain and ‘Rouge’ Conservationist Paul Watson (who now have their own show on Discovery called ‘Whale Wars‘), but seems a bit choppy at times. There is a bout with ‘flesh eating bacteria’ and a run in with corrupt officials and organized crime syndicates, both which failed to captivate me in their intended way.
Moving away from the traditional documentary genre, the well intended storyline follows much like a generic Hollywood movie with the integration of a ‘sexy protagonist’, an seemingly insurmountable obstacle to overcome with action scenes and mounting suspense. Problem being the ‘sexiness’ verged on vanity, the action scenes appeared exaggerated, and the suspense was contrived. I believe the film would have been much more enjoyable if it would have allowed for the natural suspense of the situations to carry through giving it a more real, raw, and un-masked feel. It’s as though the movie was formed to fit the Hollywood framework rather than allowing the message, the destruction, and the journey to tell the story.
That being said, the overall message is not lost and cannot be ignored. Winning countless awards and film festivals from around the world and rating a very impressive 8.0 on IMDB and 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, it still remains one of the most beautiful, entertaining, and greatest shark movie I have ever seen. Well worth the rental or purchase price and great for the whole family. It simply must not be missed. I plan on including this film in my Blu-Ray library, and it will sit right between BBC’s Planet Earth and Discovery Channels Shark Week series.
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