Last night, the international hacktivist group, Anonymous, temporarily shut down the government website for Wakayama Prefecture, where Taiji Cove is located. This Japanese seaside village is where local fisherman round up dolphins on an annual basis to capture some for marine park shows and slaughter more for food. Over the weekend, about 500 dolphins were corralled into a netted area, including a rare albino calf.

Where Do Performance Dolphins Come From?

The drive-hunt fishing method gained worldwide attention in the 2009 Academy Award winning documentary The Cove. Since then, more and more pressure has been put on the Japanese government to end the annual kill. During this most recent event, US ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy as well as Yoko Ono were among those criticizing the practice.

Now Anonymous has jumped into the ring, launching Operation KillingBay (#OpKillingBay). In a tweet they posted at 7:05 PM last night, hacker Anonymous Priest announced “Taiji Prefecture is offline.” Minutes later, the site was back up with a warning that the Wakayama Prefecture government site could expect more attacks unless they ended the slaughter.

Japanese Fishermen Capture Dolphins In Taiji Cove

The Taiji mayor, Kazutaka Sangen, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga have both justified the practice, calling it a centuries’ old tradition. But in a statement to Candace Calloway Whiting of Seattle PI, Sakae Hemmi of the Elsa Nature Conservancy in Japan said the claim of tradition is false.

“In fact, the history of dolphin hunting in Taiji is short. According to The History of Taiji, edited and published by Taiji town in 1979, the first recorded dolphin drive was in 1933, with subsequent hunts occurring in 1936 and 1944. It was not until 1969 that dolphin drives have been conducted on a large scale. The history of the dolphin drives spans not so-called 400 years, but a mere 45. Furthermore, in 1969, the main goal of the dolphin drive was to capture pilot whales as prized showpieces for the Taiji Whale Museum. In other words, the dolphin drive was purely for profit, having nothing to do with cultural history.”

Anonymous says they will be back in February. They tweeted: “That was another Warning Japan! Expect us February 9th.”

via Japan Daily Press and The Dodo

Credit: iStockPhoto