Dolphins in Japan - level 3

Dolphins in Japan - level 3

28-01-2014 14:00

Taiji Cove was the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary that called for an end to the commercial fishing of marine mammals, but it looks like the film has done little to deter these Japanese fishermen.

They were filmed trapping hundreds of dolphins on Monday in a controversial hunt that happens every year. According to activists from the Sea Shepherd Conversation Society, who have been shadowing the fishermen, boats began herding the dolphins into pens in Taiji Cove on Friday.

Most of the animals are expected to be killed for meat with the remainder set to be captured to sell to aquariums. On Monday, fishermen in wetsuits wrestled with dolphins to select those to be killed or sold. Activist Melissa Seghal is chronicling the hunt for the third year in a row.

“These dolphins are wrangled and wrestled into the killing cove, where they’ve sustained multiple injuries. Dolphin killers deliberately run over the pod with skiffs, they wrestle them, manhandle them into captive nets before even being slaughtered.”

The killing will begin after dolphins destined for captivity have been selected, probably on Tuesday.

“The slaughter process, which is called pithing, where they hammer a metal rod into the spinal cord of the dolphin. These dolphins do not die immediately. It takes up to 20 to 30 minutes for these dolphins to die, where they bleed out, suffocate or drown from the process of being dragged to the butcher house.”

Fishermen say the cull is a traditional part of their livelihood in an area that has fished dolphins and whales for thousands of years. Japan has long maintained that killing dolphins is not banned under any international treaty and that the animals are not endangered.

Difficult words: cove (small sheltered bay), deter (stop someone from doing something), shadow (follow someone and watch), herd (to make animals move), pen (closed area for animals), wrangle (round up), deliberately (when you do something deliberately, you want to do it), pod (group of dolphins), skiff (small boat), slaughter (kill an animal), suffocate (die of not breathing), drown (die because of water), cull (killing of animals), livelihood (living), treaty (official agreement between states).

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