Image Source: Wikimedia Commons. By: NASA.

This week marked the beginning of the annual Dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan. Taiji is where the award-winning documentary, The Cove, was filmed. Approximately 20,000 Dolphins are brutally slaughtered in a tiny cove there every year.

This year, the Dolphins were herded inside the cove, as usual. A number of them were selected for captivity/training purposes. Then, the bloodbath would begin, but not this time. This time, all of the remaining Dolphins were set free!

Could this mean a turn for the better, or are the hunters simply biding their time until the protesters leave?

Yes, in case you haven’t heard, stopping the Dolphin hunt is a big issue in Japan this year. Nearly 100 activists protested the hunt outside of the US Embassy in Tokyo on Thursday. To make an even bigger impact, Ric O’Barry (leading activist in this campaign) handed a petition to US Embassy officials that contained more than 1.7 million signatures from 155 different countries, urging the stop of this terrible slaughter and asking for President Obama to get involved.

In addition to that, Sea Shepherd also has a crew monitoring activity in Taiji and is currently looking for more volunteers to help with the cause. Michael Dalton of Sea Shepherd stated:

“The Dolphins need defenders at the cove today and tomorrow. If you came to Japan to save Dolphins, the place to be is Taiji and the time to be here is now.”

It’s no surprise that not all of the Japanese are exactly thrilled with the situation. While some certainly do support the saving of the Dolphins, the hunters of Taiji argue that it’s no different from raising cows or pigs for slaughter. A fishing organization official also commented that the criticism the town receives is not fair because the residents are simply trying to make a living. However, when you factor in their killing method—putting dolphins into a panicked, stressed-out frenzy and repeatedly stabbing them until they die—it sounds a lot less like “making a living” and more like cruel and unusual punishment.

Hopefully, the Dolphins set free will be a positive turning point in this horrid situation. You can find out more about the hunt by checking out The Cove website and the website of their new 3-part series, Blood Dolphins.