Heartbreaking moment dolphin family swims close together and ‘mum comforts them all’ before Japanese hunters move in to slaughter the family and take others into captivity
- Pod of pilot whales – a species of dolphin – were herded into a cove in Taiji, Japan
- Family group were kept in cove overnight before hunters moved in the next day
- Video shows pod close together as charity say they were comforting each other
- The following day eight were then taken into captivity as remainder were killed
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 was herded on September 10 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’.
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.