Dolphins seen swimming close together ‘for comfort’ before being killed in Japan | Daily Mail Online

Heartbreaking video has revealed a pod of dolphins appearing to comfort each other before hunters moved in to slaughter the family and take some into captivity.

The footage was recorded in a cove near Taiji, Japan, where a group of pilot whales – among the largest of the oceanic dolphins – was herded and kept overnight before being broken up.

Observers from US charity Dolphin Project said that, as the pod waited for their fate, they could be seen swimming in a tight circle with the matriarch circling around and ‘rubbing up against members of her family’.

It happened on September 10. The following day divers went into the water where they selected eight of the animals to be taken into captivity. The rest were slaughtered.

A pod of pilot whales – a species of dolphin – were herded into a cove off the coast of Japan last week where hunters kept them overnight before killing them or taking the into captivity

Observers from US charity Dolphin Project said the family group stayed close together and were circled by their matriarch who kept ‘rubbing up against them’ for comfort

Video footage of the family being broken up showed the water frothing as some of the pilot whales were wrestled into slings attached to the sides of the boats before being hauled away.

Others were killed and their bodies slung under the bows of the boats so they could be taken away for food.

Among the dead was the mother who spent the night comforting her brood, who was seen floating alone in the water before being hauled away.

Each year from the start of September until late February, the port of Taiji witnesses such scenes as dolphins are legally hunted by fishermen who are given permits from the government.

Fishermen use metal poles inserted into the water and struck with hammers to create a ‘wall of sound’ that confuses the animals and drives them into the cove.

The group is pictured in the cove on September 10 – their last swim together before the group was broken up, with the dolphins either captured or slaughtered

On September 11, divers went into the water to break the group up before some were put into slings so they could be taken to captive tanks

Others were dragged underneath plastic tarps so they could be butchered before their bodies were slung alongside the boats

The entrance to the inlet is then closed off with nets before divers go into the water to kill or capture their quarry.

For the 2019/2020 season, the fishermen of Taiji have been granted a quota of 1,749 dolphins, including 101 short-finned pilot whales, which they are allowed to kill. 

Nationwide, the Japanese Fisheries Agency authorises fishermen to kill or capture almost 16,000 cetaceans annually. 

The country also resumed commercial whaling from the start of this year despite international criticism.

Whalers announced that they would likely hit their quota of minke whales, which is set at 53, by the end of September.

It is unclear how many whales Japanese fishermen have caught in total since hunting resumed in July.

Dolphins seen swimming close together ‘for comfort’ before being killed in Japan

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