Death Returns to Taiji: 23 Pilot Whales Killed, 40 Bottlenose Dolphins Await Slaughter

The first week of Japan's dolphin hunting season ended in bloody savagery.
Dolphin hunters surround pilot whales over the weekend in Taiji, Japan. (Photo: Courtesy of Save Japan Dolphins)
Sep 11, 2012· 0 MIN READ
Salvatore Cardoni holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

Taiji, Japan’s roughly 50 dolphin hunters waited barely a week before using sharpened spears to bring blood back to the waters of the ill-reputed cove.

On Saturday, three pilot whales were taken for captivity from a herded pod; the other 23 were slaughtered for their mercury-tainted meat on Sunday, reports Sea Shepherd.

The deaths were the first since Japan’s annual dolphin-hunting season began on September 1.

MORE: Cove 101: A Primer on Taiji, Japan's Senseless Dolphin Slaughter

The hunters didn’t rest on their weekend laurels before returning to their inhumane work. A pod of 40 dolphins was captured on Tuesday and held overnight. On Wednesday, September 12, these poor dolphins will face one of two sad fates: They will either be slaughtered for their meat or hand-picked for a life spent jailed in an aquarium tank.

As depicted in the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove, Taiji fishermen lure thousands of dolphins into the shallows of the cove and separate out the ones deemed worthy of selling to an aquarium. The rest are harpooned and slaughtered for their mercury-poisoned meat, which is sold to supermarkets. Local officials and fishermen vehemently defend the 50-year-old drive hunt. The dolphins killed in the cove each year are part of the country’s 20,000-dolphin quota.

If you were ever in the same room as a Taiji dolphin hunter, what would you say to him to stop the slaughter? Tell us in the comments.