Group: Herded dolphins to be slaughtered at Japan’s Taiji Cove
Cornered by fishermen, divers and boats, the bottlenose dolphins splashed frantically as they tried to escape their human captors in the infamous cove in Japan.
Appearing severely stressed, some even tried to jump over partitions and flailed as they got tangled in nets, as seen through a live stream provided by the marine life group, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Dolphins separated by nets into smaller partitions bobbed up and down, trying to reach other members of their pod. The environmental group said that the dolphins appeared bloodied and they’ve had nothing to eat for more than 72 hours while trapped in Taiji Cove.
For a fourth night, more than 200 dolphins will remain trapped, where several of them are likely to be slaughtered Tuesday, according to the environmental activists who have been monitoring activities in the cove in southwest Japan.
The annual event is a focal point of the Taiji community’s dolphin hunting season.
Although the hunting of dolphins is widely condemned in the West, many in Japan defend the practice as a local custom — and say it is no different to the slaughter of other animals for meat.
Kazutaka Sangen, the mayor of Taiji defended the practice as legal.
“We have fishermen in our community and they are exercising their fishing rights,” he said. “We feel that we need to protect our residents against the criticisms.”
He accused the Sea Shepherd of using the issue of dolphin hunting to raise funds and attract attention. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been live-streaming video of events in the cove and posting frequent updates on Twitter.
The Wakayama Prefectural Government, where Taiji is located, gives an annual “catching quota.” This year, the government allows for the hunting of 2,026 small porpoises and dolphins (557 are for bottlenose dolphins).
The dolphin hunt has seen some changes, Sangen said. The town wants to create a whale/porpoise study with the aim of bringing a marine park to the city. And the method of hunting has been changing, becoming less crude, he added.
On Monday, the fishermen focused on selecting dolphins to be sold into captivity at marine parks and aquariums in Japan and overseas, the conservation group said.
Trainers marked the dolphins deemed unsuitable for captivity with a white mark. Those dolphins bearing the mark are likely to be killed Tuesday and some will be driven back out to the ocean, according to the group.
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