Animals

Taiji Dolphin Hunt Footage Shows Mom Fighting to Save Captured Calf

A widely shared social media video shows viewers the controversial round-up of dolphins that takes place yearly in Japan.

Footage of a dolphin mother struggling to stay close to a younger dolphin being carried away from its pod has circulated widely on the internet, as viewers catch a glimpse of the annual Taiji dolphin drive hunt off Japan.

The footage originated with an Australian woman named Liz Carter, who was observing the hunt and, through tears, shooting video she would later post to her Facebook account.

In the video, "the mother and child are desperately trying to stay together," Carter wrote, adding that on that day "100 dolphins were stolen. Some died from the process."

The Taiji dolphin drive hunt takes place in Taiji, Japan each year, from September to March. Dolphins are herded into a cove off the city's coast and then are caught and either killed for human food or sold to aquariums and marine parks worldwide. Captured or killed dolphins can exceed a thousand animals for a given hunt year.

Taiji is known worldwide for the hunt and came to prominence with the release of the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove," which showed large pods of dolphins corralled into the bay and then killed with knives.

The hunt has drawn the continued ire of animal rights activists, who are fighting to end the practice. Despite a decision in 2015 by Japanese zoos and aquariums to stop purchasing dolphins captured in the hunt, Taiji officials press on with the practice and sell the animals in other countries such as China and Russia.

Video such as the one shot by Carter can be painful for animal lovers to witness. And painful to film. Carter, who named the young dolphin Namika, wrote: "Sunday 22nd January 2017, Namika was horribly and forcibly separated from her mother. Their struggle and desperation to remain together has not gone unnoticed in the world. We must continue to be Namika's voice, her story represents all the captive dolphins around the world. Her story must continue to be told around the world. Let's stand united and continue to share Namika's story. Let's all never forget Namika and all those trapped in marine parks around the world."

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