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Dolphin hunts - footage

A camouflaged camera
A camouflaged camera used to capture footage of the hidden dolphin slaughters.

On this page, we've collected video footage of the dolphin hunts and slaughters in Taiji, Japan. This footage is explicit and distressing to watch, but it’s necessary to see it in order to understand why it's so important that these dolphin hunts are stopped as soon as possible. So thank you for visiting this section of the website, and for perhaps watching some of the very short videos on this page.

1) Capturing dolphins: What happens in a drive hunt

This video shows how dolphins are captured in drive hunts, a method which involves herding the dolphins using underwater noise. Video length = 00:57

2) The slaughters

If you'd like to know exactly what happens in the slaughters, which happen most days in Taiji from September to March, this covertly-obtained footage shows brief glimpses (but please note it is extremely disturbing). Video length = 02:49

3) Scientific analysis of the killing method

In 2011, an independent video journalist was able to install camouflaged cameras in the hidden slaughter area and film up close the death process for dolphins in Taiji from start to finish. The footage he captured shows that it can take seven minutes for a dolphin to die.

Time-lapse footage with a counter showing the death process over a seven minute period (again a warning, this is extremely graphic). Video length = 01:30

In 2013, this footage was used to conduct the first independent scientific analysis of the killing method at Taiji, which was published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. For the study, which strongly criticises the killing method, a veterinarian and marine mammal scientist analysed the video minute-by-minute and documented the physical stages the dolphins experience during their deaths. They found that dolphins were still visibly moving at the end of the available video footage (6 mins 50 sec), and that the killing method would register "at the highest level of gross trauma, pain and distress".

4) Captivity

Another cruel element of the drive hunts in Taiji is the treatment of dolphins and whales captured and sold to aquariums in countries with little or no animal welfare regulation. There are many documented cases of dolphins and whales being kept in appallingly inadequate conditions, to the point where the animals can't survive. The World Society for the Protection of Animals estimates that 53% of dolphins captured in drive hunts die in the first three months of captivity.

Those that make it beyond the first three months spend the rest of their lives surrounded by four walls. As Karl Erik Fichtelius, the Swedish biological scientist, points out in his book on dolphin and whale intelligence, captive dolphins could hardly take a positive view of their confinement. A display tank must feel to a dolphin as “solitary confinement in a pitch-black cell” would feel to a human. “In every direction its sound signals bounce back from cement walls, just as the eye of the human captive registers nothing but blackness”.

This video shows “Misty”, a dolphin kept at the Dolphin Base dolphinarium in Taiji. Misty is easily identified by his only toy, a yellow fishing buoy he carries constantly in his mouth. Misty sometimes plays with his buoy, but usually floats lifelessly in his tiny and overcrowded tank. Video length = 00:44

Footage courtesy of "The Cove", AtlanticBlue.de, Martyn Stewart, Whale Dolphin Conservation and BlueVoice.org.

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