In recent days, the annual slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan, has drawn strong condemnation from environmental groups across the world. The hunt gained notoriety in a 2009 documentary called “The Cove” and at least 500 dolphins appear to have been slaughtered so far this year.
The practice of hunting dolphins has been widely condemned in western quarters while many in Japan defend it as an important local custom or claim to hunt whales for scientific purposes. Over the course of the past decade, the number of dolphins killed in Taiji has fluctuated widely. However, in general, the quota slaughtered has been falling.
Back in 2002, 1,935 dolphins were killed during the hunt. This number fell to 1,149 in 2007 before falling again to 899 in 2012. Overfishing may be one reason for the decline in numbers. However, observers have also suggested that changing water temperatures are causing whales and dolphins to seek their food in areas away from Taiji.