Taiji Cove: 250 bottlenose dolphins await slaughter or captivity as selection begins

Conservationists warn the captive selection process will begin again tomorrow

More than 250 bottlenose dolphins have been rounded up by Japanese fisherman to be slaughtered for meat or sold into captivity, animal conservationists are warning.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) said dolphins were corralled into the Taiji cove and held overnight as the town's controversial annual hunt was underway. It said one dolphin died in the process, and a rare young albino dolphin had been among those being held captive by the fishermen.

The SSCS has been live streaming the events in the Cove and posting updates on Twitter and Facebook, after announcing on Friday five separate pods of bottlenose dolphins had been driven into the cove.

The town of Taiji, in the Higashimuro District, continues to hunt for small whales and dolphins after commercial whaling was suspended in 1988.

The town was the subject of the 2009 documentary  The Cove, which examined Japan's infamous dolphin hunting culture and the controversial dolphin hunt that takes place in the town between September and April annually. The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary the following year.

The group said the captive selection process began today. In a Facebook post earlier on Saturday, the SSCS wrote: "250 plus bottlenose dolphins were held in the killing cove for over 19 hours. This morning after sunrise, dolphin killers and local dolphin trainers entered the cove via skiff.

"The captive selection began shortly after 7am this morning as the two pods were further divided to make it easier for the killers to maneuver [sic] toward the shore. Babies were separated from their mothers and herded under the tarps.

"The first of the captives that was taken this morning was the rare white bottlenose calf. The killers hid the baby dolphin under a tarp and transferred immediately to Taiji Whale Museum.

"A total of 25 dolphins were kidnapped from the cove during the eight-hour captive selection today. One dolphin did not survive the traumatic process and was dragged to the butcher house. The remaining 200 plus pod will be left divided and will be held for a second night in the shallow waters of the cove until the captive selection will resume at approximately 7am tomorrow morning."

Caroline Kennedy, The US ambassador to Japan tweeted her concern following news of the hunt today.

Celebrities also joined in condemning the hunt, with comedian Ricky Gervais calling for Twitter users to re-tweet the hashtag #tweet4taiji and actress Kirsty Alley tweeting: "HUNDREDS of DOLPHINS awaiting SLAUGHTER in #THECOVE ... JAPAN, STOP THIS HORROR!!"

Local fishermen defend the hunt as a centuries old local custom, but conservationists consider the hunt slaughter.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn