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
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: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test