By Logan Scherer
Picture it: a dark sushi restaurant on a Los Angeles street, secret agents sitting inside, and a lone car waiting outside. Real-life undercover investigation or Hollywood moviemaking gold? Well, considering that the brave brains behind this very real, very covert operation are also the Oscar-winning filmmaking team behind The Cove, the answer is both!
Back in October, Charles Hambleton—The Cove's associate producer—got word that the Hump, a trendy L.A. sushi restaurant, was serving whale meat, which is illegal in the U.S. Hambleton's informants sent samples of the sushi to Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, who confirmed that the sample was meat from an endangered Sei whale.
While the consumption of whale meat is practically unheard of in the U.S., it's sold in marketplaces across Japan and is even served in school lunches. All the whale meat consumed by the Japanese comes from the hundreds of whales the Japanese claim to be slaughtering for scientific purposes.
Fast-forward to the week before the Oscars, when Louie Psihoyos—director of The Cove—and the other crewmembers from the film went undercover at the Hump, where they confirmed that the restaurant is still serving whale.
Psihoyos and his team made another visit to the Hump, this time accompanied by federal agents, and were, once again, served whale meat, giving the government officials the evidence they needed to get a warrant to search the restaurant's premises on Friday.
There's been no word yet on what the feds found, but according to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, those charged with possession or sale of marine mammals may face up to a year in prison or a $20,000 fine. In the meantime, is anyone else hoping that all this means that the intrepid moviemaking, sushi-spying heroes will team up for another film to save animals?