The sickening moment dolphins are hunted and captured to entertain tourists is exposed today by the Sunday People.
The sea boils red as one of the highly intelligent mammals is battered against rocks as it tries to escape.
If the striped dolphin is “lucky” it will end up at a hotel resort where thousands of holiday makers, including Britons, will pay to swim with the creatures or watch them perform tricks.
They are sold on by fishermen to “brokers” and can eventually fetch up to £190,000 each once they are trained.
But many of the dolphin’s companions rounded up at Taiji cove in Japan are immediately slaughtered and sold for meat.
Travel giant TUI are believed to be the only British major travel agent still offering “dolphin experience” holidays to Brits – although the company insists they endorse only venues that uphold global animal welfare standards.
It is estimated 2,000 dolphins will be captured in Japan’s “Killing Cove” this season.
Tim Burns, campaign manager of The Dolphin Project which filmed the latest gruesome round-up, said: “The mortality rate is extremely high and the start of 2020 has been bloody.
“Holidaymakers who go to ‘swim with’ programmes have an idea that the dolphin was gently picked up off the coast and is thankful and happy to be in captivity. But the process in which they snatched is merciless.
“Tourists are largely unaware how many creatures have died so they can swim with that one dolphin they meet.
“We believe that for every 1,000 sea mammals captured, around 200 end up in captivity. The rest are killed for meat.”
In the last week alone 31 mammals were captured and 37 were slain for meat, according to the group, which used a drone and clifftop cameras.
Hunters drive them into the shallows by lowering steel poles into the water and hitting the poles with hammers.
The highly sensitive dolphins swim towards shore to escape the noise, only to be trapped by nets.
Those not wanted for training are slaughtered on land with a metal spike pushed into their neck – hidden behind tarpaulin sheets. Tim said: “These highly intelligent animals understand not only pain but the idea of dying. And they mourn the death of others.”
TUI plugs the Atlantis Sanya resort in China which admitted buying from Taiji hunters in 2018.
The resort invites customers to “meet and interact with the dolphins while professional photographers capture this unforgettable moment”.
TUI customers can book online for a £130-a-night stay at the five-star hotel. Rivals STA Travel, AirBnB and Virgin Holidays said they would cut ties two years ago.
The British-based campaign group Dolphin Freedom UK is calling for TUI to sever connections with the dolphin entertainment business. It has collected 7,000 signatures for a petition and has organised a series of protests outside branches.
The charity says life expectancy for dolphins bred in captivity is around 12 years compared with between 30 and 50 in the wild.
Marine parks in China, Japan and the Middle East are the biggest customers for the creatures.
The trade, which has been going on since 1960, is legal in Japan under their fishing laws.
TUI also promotes firms Dolphin Discovery – based in central America and US – and SeaWorld in the US, both of which deny buying dolphins from Taiji hunts.
A TUI spokesman said: “We are committed to working only with venues that agree to uphold the Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism as formulated by the Association of British Travel Agents.
The venues we feature are subject to an extensive and independent animal welfare audit programme to ensure they are upholding global animal welfare standards. We are in discussions with the venues to further improve animal welfare and address the issues.”
Kerzner International, which owns the Sanya hotel, admitted buying 12 dolphins from Japan in 2018 but insisted they are in good health and it would not support future collections from the wild.
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The group which owns Dolphin Discovery said: “The Dolphin Company will never participate in the Taiji event.”
Dr Chris Dold, SeaWorld’s Chief Zoological Officer, said: “SeaWorld is recognized as a leader in setting the standard for the best marine mammal care.”
This content was originally published here.