TOKYO — Sting wants to help save dolphins still being brutally slaughtered in Japan, but says the best way is by starting a debate, not by forcing foreign opinion.
The British music star met backstage at a Tokyo concert hall Wednesday with Ric O'Barry, the star of the "The Cove," the Academy Award-winning documentary that depicts the dolphin hunt in the town of Taiji in southwestern Japan.
The two have been friends since the Sundance Film Festival two years ago, where "The Cove" had its first major showing.
The film, directed by Louie Psihoyos, shows dolphins driven into a cove and stabbed by fishermen on small boats, turning the water red with blood, as the dolphins writhe in agony.
"I was blown away by the movie," Sting told The Associated Press before his concert. "We should not be eating dolphins."
Sting, in Asia for his "Symphonicity" tour, said he's sympathetic to the save-the-dolphins view in "The Cove" but that the best approach is "through dialogue," noting that many Japanese are also outraged by dolphin killing.
O'Barry said Sting and his wife were among the first people to express support for "The Cove." The former Police frontman has spoken out on environmental and humanitarian issues around the world.
He told O'Barry to stay optimistic, assuring him that word was getting out about overfishing and depletion of the oceans.
"We only evolve as a species when we are in a crisis," Sting said. "We don't want an empty sea."
O'Barry, 71, the former dolphin trainer for the 1960s TV show "Flipper," said he has posted new footage on his website of the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, taken this week by one of his colleagues.
Fishermen in the village say they are trying to find more humane ways to kill dolphins, but the new footage shows dolphins taken into shallow water and flapping in apparent pain. They are then stabbed by fishermen and continue to suffer for a few more minutes.
O'Barry said he plans to go to Taiji later this week and meet with the town's mayor to show him the footage.
The Japanese government allows about 20,000 dolphins to be caught each year and defends the hunts as traditional, but most Japanese have never eaten dolphin meat.
"The Cove": http://www.thecovemovie.com/
Ric O'Barry's blog: http://www.savejapandolphins.org/
O'Barry's "Blood Dolphins" on the Discovery Channel:http://animal.discovery.com/tv/blood-dolphins/episode-guide.html