(OCEANS/TAIJI DOLPHINS) Taiji, Japan’s six-month-long dolphin slaughter, where over 20,000 dolphins are corralled into a cove and killed each year, is now underway.

Critics recognize the cruelty of this gruesome practice, and are working to dolphin hunting in Japan once and for all. Read on to learn more about Taiji dolphin hunting season, and how you can help save thousands of dolphins from slaughter. — Global Animal

Dolphin hunters corral hundreds of dolphins at a time. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd/EPA
Dolphin hunters corral hundreds of dolphins at a time. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd/EPA

The Guardian

The controversial six-month dolphin hunting season began on Monday in the infamous town of Taiji, but bad weather would delay any killing, a local official told AFP.

The annual catch, in which people from the southwestern town corral hundreds of dolphins into a secluded bay and butcher them, was thrust into the global spotlight in 2009 when it became the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove.

“The dolphin hunting season started today and will last until the end of February,” said an official of the Taiji fisheries association, adding the season for hunting pilot whales, which also begins today, will last until April.

Critics of dolphin hunting claim that there is not enough of a demand for dolphin meat. Photo credit: Gregorio B. Dantes Jr.
Critics of dolphin hunting claim there is not a high enough demand for dolphin meat. Photo credit: Gregorio B. Dantes Jr.

But bad weather on Monday meant there would be no hunting on the day, he said.

Environmental campaigners are already in situ to watch the hunt, the official said.

Last season, activists from international environmental group Sea Shepherd, who call themselves “Cove Guardians,” streamed live footage of the dolphin capture.

Earlier this year, the slaughter sparked renewed global criticism after US ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy tweeted her concern at the “inhumaneness” of the hunt.

Defenders say it is a tradition and point out that the animals it targets are not endangered, a position echoed by the Japanese government.

They say Western objections are hypocritical and ignore the vastly larger number of cows, pigs and sheep butchered to satisfy demand elsewhere.

Dolphin meat contains dangerous levels of mercury. Photo credit: The Cove
Dolphin meat contains dangerous levels of mercury. Photo credit: The Cove

But critics of the practice say there is insufficient demand for the animals’ meat, which in any case contains dangerous levels of mercury.

They say the hunt is only profitable because of the high prices live dolphins can fetch when sold to aquariums and dolphin shows.

On Sunday around 30 people marched in Tokyo to protest the hunt, which they say sullies Japan’s reputation abroad.

More The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/01/japans-annual-dolphin-slaughter-begins-at-taiji-cove

TAKE ACTION: Click here to sign the petition to help end the annual killings of over 20,000 dolphins in Taiji, Japan.

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