Video has been shared of the moment a pod of dolphins huddle together to comfort each other before hunters take some into captivity and slaughter the rest.
The footage, recorded in a cove near Taiji, Japan, shows a group of pilot whales being herded up by hunters. They were reportedly crowded into the cove and kept there overnight, before hunters came in the next morning and broke them up.
According to US charity Dolphin Project, the species of oceanic dolphins could be seen swimming in circle together, with the matriarch of the group circling them and ‘rubbing up against members of her family’ for reassurance and comfort.
You can watch the video here, via Dolphin Project:
The nursery pod of pilot whales was reportedly driven into the shallow waters in an area known as the Cove.
Exhausted and traumatized, the family surfaced and spy hopped as they caught their breath. Once the nets were dropped and their fate was sealed, they swam in a tight circle, always touching one another. Their beautiful matriarch could be also be seen swimming around them, always rubbing up against members of her family. Without food or shelter, hunters left the family alone overnight.
Eight pilot whales from the group were taken into captivity, while the rest were slaughtered by hunters in the Cove. According to a witness, the dolphins killed last ‘gave the least amount of struggle… and made us wonder if they had just given into their fate.’
According to the charity, the hunting season began at the start of this month, and already a number of ‘brutal slaughters’ have taken place.
The hunting season apparently lasts from September to February in Japan, with hunting in Taiji being allowed by the government as long as the fishermen have permits.
The marine animals are reportedly driven into the Cove by a ‘wall of sound’, designed to confuse the dolphins, before the entrance is closed off with nets.
Across Japan, the national Fisheries Agency has authorised the killing or capture of around 16,000 cetaceans – which includes dolphins, minke whales, and short-finned pilot whales – in total every year, MailOnline reports.
Despite criticism from the international community, Japan resumed its practice of commercial whaling at the start of this year. It is so far unclear how many marine animals have been slaughtered since hunting resumed.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.