Today, the first dolphins of the annual hunt in Taiji were killed by Japanese fisherman. During the six month-long hunting season, hundreds of dolphins are cornered and slaughtered in a secluded bay, an event that has drawn the ire of environmentalists and animal rights organizers worldwide. An estimated 20 dolphins have been killed so far, with many to follow.
“We finally caught them. I’m relieved,” stated Yoshifumi Kai, a senior official of the local fisheries association, to Kyodo News. The annual display has been featured in the Academy Award-winning documentary “The Cove,” wherein the waters can be seen turning bright red. Those who defend the tradition argue that dolphins are not endangered, a view shared by the Japanese government.
There was no conflict between environmental protesters and the fishermen on Friday, yet there has been an enhanced presence of local authorities, just in case. Last year, Japan’s zoos and aquariums pledged to sever ties with Taiji dolphin drive hunts and will no longer purchase the mammals from the cruel confinement practices.