It has long been a bloody event that takes place every year off Japan's western Pacific coast. For some days, dolphins are again driven into a bay at the fishing village of Taiji and killed.
According to Japanese media reports, the first twelve boats had left the harbor, but returned without catch. But on Monday five dolphins were killed. The catch quotas allow about 1700 dolphins to be killed or caught over a period of six months.
The hunt encounters indignation worldwide. Taiji had been criticized by the Oscar-winning documentary "The Bay". In the past, the traditional dolphin drift created photos that showed Japanese fishermen in the red-colored waters of the bay - the blood of the animals flowed hectolitely into the sea.
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Meanwhile, the fishermen avoid such emotional images by killing the animals differently: The marine mammals receive a blast with a harpoon, then the blade is pulled out and the wound is closed with a cork. The dolphins bleed inside, report environmentalists. Since blood does not flow in large quantities into the sea. Scientists had criticized this method in a study in the journal "Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science" 2013, as it does not lead to immediate death.
The meat of the dolphins is available in Japan for consumption, but actually want to eat only a few. In addition, not all dolphins die in the hunt, some are caught and sold to aquariums and theme parks. This practice has long been in the criticism. "The dolphin hunters business keeps dolphins and marine parks running the hunt for dolphins," wrote the environmental group The Dolphin Project on Twitter.
Just a few weeks ago, Japan had started commercial whaling again. Previously, the animals had been officially killed only for scientific purposes. This was possible through a special permit from the International Whaling Commission (IWC). But last year, Japan announced it would leave the IWC.