Understanding the Taiji Dolphin Hunts

Each year, in Taiji, Japan, a deeply unsettling practice unfolds from September – March.

Fishermen herd hundreds of dolphins into a confined cove, where they face a grim fate: either to be taken for a life in captivity or to be killed for their meat.

This brutal practice inflicts severe physical harm on these intelligent, sentient beings, or entraps them into a life of imprisonment.

The Taiji dolphin hunts are a global concern for dolphin lovers who want to see an end to this cruelty. Add your name to the chorus of people calling for the Taiji dolphin hunts to end.

Source Kunito

How many dolphins have suffered because of the Taiji dolphin drive hunts?


dolphins & small whales have been trapped into a life of captivity from the Taiji dolphin hunts since 2012


dolphins & small whales have been slaughtered in the Taiji dolphin hunts since 2012

The Captivity Industry: A Driving Force of the Taiji Dolphin Hunts

The demand for live dolphins from the entertainment industry fuels the Taiji dolphin drive hunts. Dolphins captured in these hunts often end up in marine parks worldwide, living in conditions that starkly contrast their natural habitat. In captivity, they are confined in tanks that are too small to meet their needs and surrounded by artificial environments. They suffer physically and psychologically. They are often forced to perform circus tricks that are unnatural for them – all for humans’ amusement.

Source zstockphotos

Dolphin Meat = Hundreds of Dead Dolphins Each Year

The Taiji dolphin hunters continue to slaughter and sell dolphins for meat. Dolphin meat is then sold in local markets, restaurants, through online stores, and even for pet food.

Dolphins can accumulate high levels of toxins like mercury in their bodies, which can be harmful to people’s health if consumed regularly.

We tested dolphin meat samples with a Japanese laboratory. These samples contained mercury levels much higher than 0.4ppm – the amount recommended as safe for human consumption by Japanese regulation. Risso’s dolphin offal sold throughout Japan in 2023 had mercury levels 265 times higher than the government recommended limit.

Despite this, dolphins continue to be killed and sold for food with little oversight.


The Impact of Your Voice

We’re aiming to reach 250,000 signatures. With a quarter of a million people behind us, we’ll reach out to the Governor of Wakayama to show the growing international support for shutting down these hunts.

The Governor issues the permits allowing these hunts to continue. With a stroke of his pen, he can end this.

Please join us in urging him to protect these beautiful animals.

Source Lemonan Getty Images

Our achievements

United with thousands of dolphin defenders globally, we've achieved notable milestones in the fight to end the Taiji dolphin hunts. Check out our biggest wins.

Close-up of several packages of dolphin meat on display, each labeled with a price tag, in a supermarket setting.
Source Richard Gilhooly

Disrupting the dolphin meat trade

To stop the slaughter of dolphins for meat, we’re taking action against companies peddling dolphin meat. We have already successfully shut down a key supplier of dolphin meat on Yahoo! Japan after our investigation revealed mercury levels in one meat sample were shockingly 97.5 times beyond Japan’s regulatory recommended limit.

A dolphin is captured mid-leap above the ocean's surface, with water cascading off its body. The background is a calm sea stretching to the horizon under a clear sky. The dolphin's skin glistens in the sunlight, highlighting the grace and agility of these marine mammals.
Source Pagie Page Unsplash

Combatting Taiji dolphin hunts

We tackled the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) as a way to disrupt the cruel dolphin hunts in Taiji, Japan. Garnering support through legal action and a petition signed by thousands, we persuaded 62 Japanese aquariums under WAZA to stop buying dolphins from Taiji – a groundbreaking achievement!