A shocking new investigation has revealed that 269 dolphins across nine different species are currently being held captive in Taiji, Japan, making it one of the largest captive dolphin collections in the world.
The dolphins were imprisoned during Taiji’s controversial dolphin hunt, an event responsible for the capture of hundreds of the marine animals every year. Some are sold to aquariums, marine parks, and dolphinariums, while others are slaughtered for their meat.
Live dolphins sold to theme parks bring in a much higher profit than those killed for meat. Taiji’s fishermen are reportedly able to sell a live animal for about $8,000, and a fully trained dolphin is worth more than $40,000 if sold abroad. Meat only brings in $500.
The Dolphin Project in collaboration with the Life Investigation Agency (LIA) conducted a 6-month long investigation during the hunting season to count and record the number and species of dolphins being confined in Moriura Bay.
“When the dolphins and whales are driven into the cove from offshore, it is like your blood boils and starts to flow backwards,” Ren Yabuki, campaign director of LIA who has been recording these hunts alongside his team of over 46 all-Japanese activists for the past six years, told National Geographic. “Dolphins and whales, who have done nothing wrong, are suddenly and forcibly captured. Their families are torn apart. They are captured for the aquarium trade in front of [their] family and pod members or killed right in front of their families and siblings.”