Jan. 20 - The annual dolphin hunting season has begun in Japan's Taiji cove, a practice denounced by activists but defended by locals who say it is an ancient tradition. Michaela Cabrera reports.
Japanese fishermen are trapping hundreds of dolphins in Taiji cove in central Japan in an annual hunt. Boats began herding more than 250 dolphins into pens, activists from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SEA SHEPHERD ACTIVIST MELISSA SEHGAL, SAYING: "These dolphins are wrangled and wrestled into the killing cove, where they've sustained multiple injuries. Dolphin killers deliberately run over the pod with skiffs, they wrestle them, man-handled them into captive nets before even being slaughtered." Most of the dolphins are expected to be slaughtered for meat, and some sold to aquariums. Fishermen and other locals say the cull is a tradition and a source of livelihood that has been around for thousands of years. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) STAFF VETERINARIAN AT TAIJI WHALE MUSEUM, SHINJI SAKAMOTO, SAYING: "People are just thinking too emotionally about the dolphins. They want to protect them just because they're cute and clever." An Oscar-winning documentary called "The Cove" raised the issue and called for an end to such commercial fishing. Japan has long maintained that killing dolphins is not banned under any international treaty and that the animals are not endangered.