Japanese fishermen rounded up more than 250 bottlenose dolphins for a controversial annual slaughter in Taiji Cove.
The dolphins, including one young and extremely rare albino dolphin, will either be killed with a spike or spend the rest of their lives in captivity at aquariums and aquatic parks.
Japan has long-defended the dolphin hunt as a local custom dating back centuries, but the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have been live-tweeting the brutal process.
The dolphins were driven into the cove by banger boats, which have long poles on the sides. Fishermen bang the poles with hammers, causing pods of dolphins to scatter and flee.
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“Desperate dolphins swimming toward the nets, as killers push them away so they cannot escape,” the group wrote Friday.
“Killers and trainers tore half of the pod apart today, and will finish tomorrow,” they tweeted.
"Panicked, frightened, and fatigued, another portion of the bottlenose pod is driven closer to the shore,” it said. "Killers continue to ruthlessly wrap bottlenose dolphins into nets and drag them to the shore for selection.”
Any dolphins that escape the cove are driven back out to sea by the same banger boats. These escapees are usually young dolphins that are unlikely to survive without the guidance of adults.
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U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy tweeted, “Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG opposes drive hunt fisheries.”
Japanese aren't just killing dolphins en masse, earlier this month a fleet was spotted killing whales in an open sanctuary. Sea Shepherd caught the whalers and the five Japanese vessels fled, abandoning their hunt just as it began. Four minke whales were killed.
"There's three carcasses on the ship, a fourth carcass has been cut up. There's blood all over the place, meat being carted around on this factory ship deck, offal and innards being dumped in the ocean," said Sea Shepherd Australia chairman Bob Brown. "That's just a gruesome, bloody, medieval scene which has no place in this modern world."