Heartbreaking footage has emerged of a pod of dolphins being driven into a cove then slaughtered in Japan.
Video recorded near the town of Taiji, around 75 miles south of Osaka, shows the waters run red as a team of divers and fishermen kill 32 striped dolphins in a grim spectacle that takes hours to finish.
In a vain attempt to hide what they are doing, the hunters use canopies suspended over the cove, but at least one badly injured animal broke out into the open where it was captured bleeding heavily on drone cameras.
The video was captured by Dolphin Project, which campaigns to end the hunts, in February this year.
As the video starts, a pod of striped dolphins can be seen being chased into the cove by fishing boats.
The hunters do this by lowering mental poles into the water then banging on them with hammers, creating a ‘wall of sound’ that disorients the dolphins.
Once their prey is inside the cove, the fishermen draw nets across the mouth, trapping them inside.
The dolphins are then driven towards the rear of the cove, where large beige tarps have been suspended over the water to hide what they are about to do.
Distressed dolphins can be seen throwing themselves against the walls of the enclosure in a desperate but vain bid to escape.
Once the pod is underneath the tarp, divers go into the water in order to catch the animals while the fisherman dispatch them.
At least one badly wounded animal escapes the tarps and can be seen bleeding heavily into the water as a diver tries to catch it.
It is then tethered to the side of a boat and dragged back under the covers so the butchering can continue.
In the 2018/19 season, a total of 234 striped dolphins were killed in Taiji, just over half of the government quota of 450.
Over the course of the whole season, which runs from September to March, 556 dolphins were killed and a further 241 captured at this one cove.
While that number has reduced to just a quarter of what it was two decades ago, campaigners are calling for the practice to end entirely.
Despite the declining popularity of dolphin and whale products, Japan decided to restart commercial whaling this year despite international condemnation.
It is unclear how many whales Japanese fishermen have caught in total since hunting resumed in July.
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