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National
Annual Taiji Cove dolphin hunt continues despite controversy
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Annual Taiji Cove dolphin hunt continues despite controversy

Annual Taiji Cove dolphin hunt continues despite controversy
Photo Credit: TED ALJIBE
CORRECTION - DATE Protesters hold dolphin-shaped ballons and anti-dolphin slaughter placards as they march to the Japanese embassy in Manila on September 2, 2013, at a protest against the annual dolphins and small whales hunt known as "Japanese drive fisheries" in Taiji, Japan. Every year, fishermen in Taiji herd about 2,000 dolphins into a shallow bay, select several dozen for sale to aquariums and marine parks and harpoon the rest for meat. Taiji, located on the western Japanese peninsula of Kii, village drew global attention after "The Cove", a hard-hitting film about the annual dolphin hunt, won the Academy Award for best documentary in 2010. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

Annual Taiji Cove dolphin hunt continues despite controversy

​​Despite pleas from animal conservationists around the world, the annual dolphin hunt at Japan's infamous Taiji cove continues this year. 

According to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a Washington-based non-profit group that protects marine life, Japanese fisherman rounded up more than 250 dolphins, including babies and juveniles, into the cove Saturday — the largest round-up in years. (Via CNN)

Among the group is an extremely rare juvenile albino dolphin, which could fetch millions of dollars. (Via Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

In a statement, the group warned that by Sunday morning the selection process will begin: "Babies and mothers will be torn from each other's sides as some are taken for captivity, some are killed, and others are driven back out to sea to fend for themselves." (Via Al Jazeera)

The annual dolphin hunt gained attention in 2009 after the release of the Academy Award-winning documentary "The Cove," which detailed the dolphin hunting process in Taiji — most notably, the way the water of the cover turns red with blood after the hunt. (Via LionsgateHLN)

Taiji, a town of about 3,000 in South-east Japan, claims the hunt is an important ritual dating back centuries. The local government condemned the film, which it says has brought "repeated psychological harassment" to Taiji fisherman. 

Writing in a statement: "Taiji dolphin fishermen are just conducting a legal fishing activity in their traditional way in full accordance with regulations and rules under the supervision of both the national and the prefectural governments. Therefore, we believe there are no reasons to criticize the Taiji dolphin fishery." (Via USA Today)

Several celebrities and public officials have weighed in on the issue, most recently, U.S. ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy — the daughter of former President John F. Kennedy. (Via YouTube / Take Part)

She tweeted: "Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. [The U.S. government] opposes drive hunt fisheries." 

Dolphins captured in the cove are either sold into captivity, or slaughtered and sold for consumption despite reports that dolphin meat might contain high levels of mercury and other toxins. 

- See more at Newsy.com

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