Dead Dolphins Hauled From Sea In Nets In Footage Of Japan’s Annual Taiji Hunt

by : Cameron Frew on : 02 Sep 2019 15:26
Dead Dolphins Hauled From Sea In Nets In Footage Of Japan's Annual Taiji HuntDolphin Project/Twitter

Japan’s annual Taiji hunt has begun – which will see dolphins speared, sliced and drowned. 

Fishermen allegedly killed five Risso’s dolphins on Friday (August 30) as part of the controversial hunt, which sees animals rounded into a bay and killed, or captured and taken to aquariums.


The Dolphin Project, an environmental group, say the fishermen tracked a pod of dolphins for four hours before killing all five of them, listening to ‘their thrashing below the tarps as they were killed.’

Local media dispute this, claiming all the boats returned to Japan’s south coast empty handed.

This marks the start of the six-month hunting season, ending in March – which could see as many as 1,700 of the mammals legally butchered or caught.

Dolphin Project Taiji Hunt 3The Dolphin Project/Twitter

Taiji fishermen argue that the hunt has economical benefits: dolphins can fetch high prices from aquariums – although they have been facing criticism for purchasing from the fishermen – and the trade feeds the small town.

However, many aren’t convinced. The Dolphin Project, naturally, condemn the practice of catching and killing the creatures as extremely cruel. Reportedly, it can take up to 30 minutes for a dolphin to drown during the hunts.


While some dolphins are held underwater to suffocate, others are speared repeatedly by the fisherman, with the boat’s propellers often slicing their skin – according to the MailOnline.

Dolphin Project Taiji Hunt 3The Dolphin Project/Twitter

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In an effort to shatter the mammal’s spine, hunters will sometimes ram a metal pole into their blubber – they then put a cork stopper in the hole where the pole was forced in to try and conceal the extent of blood shed into the ocean.

Some marine experts say that the stress of being hunted leads the dolphins to sometimes commit suicide. While wild dolphins can live for anywhere between 60 and 70 years, captured ones often die when they are as young as eight years old.


Ever since 2009’s Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove, the infamous hunt has been swarmed with criticism – the start of the new season has simply fuelled the fire even more.

Earlier this year, Japan exited the International Whaling Commission – allowing for the reintroduction of commercial whaling which has been slammed by animal activists.

Fishing vessels brought back their first whales on July 1. The country’s Fisheries Agency set a cap for a total catch of 227 whales through the season until late December – 52 minke, 150 Bryde’s and 25 sei whales.


If you would like to donate to The Dolphin Project’s mission to end exploitation of the mammals, you can here.

If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Animals, Dolphins, Japan, News, World News


MailOnline and 1 other
  1. MailOnline

    Taiji dolphin hunt begins: Japan's controversial annual hunt gets underway with the first animals to die driven into a cove and left to thrash under tarpaulin as they are slaughtered

  2. Dolphin Project/Twitter