Japan Finishes Dolphin Slaughter—Under Cover

Dozens slaughtered for meat amid protests

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 21, 2014 12:09 AM CST | Updated Jan 21, 2014 7:50 AM CST

(Newser) – Japanese fishermen have wrapped up their annual dolphin hunt and slaughter in Taiji cove amid international protests. CNN reports that some 500 bottlenose dolphins were driven into the cove—a larger number than usual, though Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is sticking with its original claim that 250 or so dolphins were involved. As always, some were captured to be sold to aquariums, others slaughtered for their meat, and the rest released; a member of the local fishermen's union says fewer than 100 fell into those first two categories. But Sea Shepherd, which has tweeted and streamed video through the whole hunt, claims that "many will die at sea from the last 4 days." It claims that 52 were sold into captivity, 41 were killed, and the remaining 130 to 140 were released.

Sea Shepherd has described horrific scenes as dozens of dolphins were dragged into a tent to be slaughtered, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. That tent was apparently an attempt on the fishermen's part to keep prying eyes away. Reuters reports that in advance of the killing they put a tarpaulin in place; blood streamed out from under it. The Japanese government has shrugged off criticism of the hunt from diplomats including US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy. "Dolphin fishing is a form of traditional fishing in our country," a government spokesman says. "We will explain Japan's position to the American side." (Click for another tale of marine woes involving sardines.)

Fishermen drive bottlenose dolphins into a net during the 2010 hunt off Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, western Japan
Fishermen drive bottlenose dolphins into a net during the 2010 hunt off Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, western Japan   (AP Photo/Kyodo News, File)
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