Fishermen use sound barriers to disorient and herd the frantic pods out of their normal migration paths into hidden lagoons, such as that featured in the Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove".
Those considered the most "attractive", including young and female dolphins, are separated to be sold to dolphinariums and marine mammal parks where they will remain in captivity for the rest of their lives, often forced to perform as circus acts.
The remaining dolphins are inhumanely slaughtered- impaled and speared- or their spinal cords severed, and later butchered to be distributed throughout Japan as meat for human consumption.
This clearly represents a huge welfare concern for the dolphins, but also poses a significant risk to human health. The Japanese government has intentionally sheltered people from the dangers of eating dolphin meat. Dolphin meat contains extremely high levels of mercury, and consumers run the risk of mercury poisoning, which can result in severe brain damage.
While the Japanese government defends dolphin hunting as part of their cultural heritage, this tradition has potentially serious health effects and the reality is that the more lucrative captive dolphin industry is the driving economic force behind the dolphin hunt in Taiji.
The worldwide marine mammal captivity industry continues to threaten wild whale and dolphin populations and inflicts cruelty and suffering on thousands of individual animals. Confining whales and dolphins to captivity presents serious welfare issues. These are wide-ranging, social animals and captivity presents a lack of the social, visual and auditory stimuli of their natural environment, leading to a life of severe deprivation, lower life-expectancy and higher infant mortality than in the wild.
The Asia for Animals coalition members will continue to support the work of animal protection and conservation organisations campaigning to end this inhumane capture and slaughter. For more details see the Save Japan Dolphins campaign at http://savejapandolphins.org
The AfA coalition has written to the Japanese government to oppose this brutal and indefensible capture and slaughter.