The village featured in the movie The Cove continues
turning blue sea purple from the red blood of dolphins
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The Japanese village notorious for the dolphin hunt documented in the film The Cove has killed a pod of dolphins but spared the youngest animals, activists said today.
1. The Cove
2. Production year: 2009
3. Country: USA
4. Cert (UK): 12A
5. Runtime: 90 mins
6. Directors: Louie Psihoyos
Most of the dolphins caught by residents of the seaside village of Taiji on Monday were slaughtered today, except for two that will be sold to aquariums and six young animals that were released into the ocean, said Scott West, a member of the Sea Shepherd conservation group who is in Taiji as part of a campaign to protect the marine mammals.
Leilani Munter, an environmental activist visiting Taiji from North Carolina, also witnessed the hunt.
"There is nothing to prepare you for seeing it in person. I saw these beautiful dolphins being driven into the cove, and they came out dead bodies," she said.
For years, Taiji has held an annual dolphin hunt which begins in September and continues throughout March. It has traditionally sold the best-looking animals to aquariums and killed the rest.
But the Oscar-winning documentary – which showed how herded dolphins were stabbed in a cove that turned red with blood – has intensified international opposition to the slaughter.
Activists are organising a protest against the killings on Thursday at Japanese embassies around the world.
Unlike previous years, Taiji has been setting some of the captured dolphins free, probably because of the growing pressure, West said.
The village has not killed any bottlenose dolphins. Instead, the victims have been risso dolphins and pilot whales, which are also dolphins but don't have the distinctive pointed noses of bottlenoses, West said.
Last month, Taiji fishermen captured around a dozen bottlenose dolphins, which are still swimming in a netted area in a harbour separate from the cove.
A European conservationist group, Black Fish, said it had cut nets in that harbour last month but the dolphins did not escape.
The young dolphins released today appeared confused, and it was unclear how well they will survive, West said.
The Taiji fishing spokesman was not available for comment.
Town officials have repeatedly defended the slaughter as a way to make a living in an area where the rocky landscape makes farming and livestock-raising difficult.
The town has also been trying to draw tourists to its aquariums, where visitors can play with captive dolphins.
The Japanese government allows about 20,000 dolphins to be caught each year. It defends the hunts as traditional and argues that killing dolphins and whales is no different from raising cows or pigs for slaughter.