TOKYO: Fishermen in the small Japanese town of Taiji killed more than two-dozen striped dolphins on Thursday, cam–paigners said, as global outrage over the slaughter grows.
Activists from the militant environmentalist group Sea Shepherd said the hunters were herding the animals into a screened-off area because they wanted to hide what they were doing.
“They continue to use tarps to cover the slaughter, and physically drive the pod under the tarps . . . to avoid cameras,” Melissa Sehgal told Agence France-Presse by telephone from Taiji.
“You can hear the dolphins splashing below,” she said, as the fishermen stab a metal spike into their spinal cords.
“It was approximately 30 dol–phins—striped dol–phins—that were all slaughtered this morning.”
Boats search the open ocean off Japan’s Pacific coast for pods of dolphins. When a group is located the fishermen drive them towards the cove by banging on submerged metal poles attached to their boat.
This creates a sonar wall from which they flee. By positioning several boats in an arc, the hunters can funnel the creatures into a small bay. Once there, nets are strung across the mouth of the cove to prevent the dolphins’ escape.
Activists say the pod can be kept there for several days while some of the more attractive dolphins are selected for sale to aquariums and dolphinariums, who are prepared to pay handsomely for a prime specimen. Many of the rest are killed for their meat, which features in the diets of a small number of coastal commu–nities in rural Japan. It is not widely consumed and the Japanese government recommends limiting intake because of the high levels of mercury it contains.