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Rare Albino Dolphin Among 250 Corralled in Japan's Infamous Killing Cove

Jan 18, 2014 12:17 PM EST
Taiji cove dolphins 2014
Of the more than 250 dolphins captured in a cove in Taiji, Japan across the last four days, 41 were killed and 52 were taken captive, according to a report by the Cove Guardians, an activist group affiliated with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The group that the captured pod included adults, juveniles and babies, as well as a rare albino dolphin calf.
(Photo : via Sea Shepherd Conservation Society )

In excess of 250 dolphins have been corralled in an infamous cove in Japan, where some will be killed for meat and others sold into a lifetime of captivity, according to a conservation group.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said Friday that the massive pod includes adults, juveniles and babies, as well as a rare albino dolphin calf.

"If not killed, the albino will most certainly be taken as a novelty for Taiji's local marine park attractions," the conservation group said Friday.

Taiji, where the dolphins are corralled, rose to infamy after the 2009 Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove exposed the town's annual dolphin cull.

Writing for the Earth Island Institute's Dolphin Project blog, Karla Sanjur reported there were 12 boats participating in the dolphin hunt.

"While the two boats chased one pod into the cove, five boats were chasing another pod, and the rest remained in the horizon," Sanjur reported. "The first pod put up a fight, but was driven into the killing Cove in the end. The second pod of dolphins was divided into two smaller pods, and one of them was driven into the Cove pretty quickly."

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society notes that dolphins are highly emotionally intelligent creatures and family pods will suffer as they are torn apart by the aquarium industry, whose representatives will select ones without visible scars or scrapes - deemed the "prettiest" - to be sold to aquariums around the world. Some, but not all, of those not selected for captivity will be killed for meat, and those that survive will forever be without members of their family, the conservation group said.

"The new year has already been an extremely bloody and brutal one for the dolphins and small whales in Taiji," the conservation group said in a blog post Friday. "Approximately 176 have been slaughtered and 24 taken captive in just nine days. This includes four different species of dolphins, just since the hunt resumed following the holiday break."

Caroline Kennedy, the US ambassador to Japan, said in a tweet Friday that she is "Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing." The United States government "opposes drive hunt fisheries," she said.

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