Despite protests from conservationists, an annual dolphin hunt took place Saturday at Taiji Cove in Japan.
According to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a Friday Harbor, Wash.-based non-profit group that protects marine life, five separate pods of Bottlenose dolphins — more than 250 in all, including babies and juveniles — "were driven into Taiji's infamous killing cove (Friday) and held overnight.
"Today, the members of the pod will face a violent and stressful captive selection process," the group warned Saturday. "Babies and mothers will be torn from each other's sides as some are taken for captivity, some are killed, and others are driven back out to sea to fend for themselves."
CNN reported that by the end of the day Saturday in Taiji, 25 dolphins had been removed from their pod and taken "to a lifetime of imprisonment," according to the group. One of them died in the process and will be butchered, the group said. The dolphins will be kept penned in the cove overnight before the selection process begins again on Sunday.
The annual dolphin hunt became controversial internationally after the 2009 Academy Award-winning documentary, The Cove detailed dolphin hunting practices in Japan.
Taiji is a Pacific coast town of about 3,200 in Higashimuro District, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, about 50 miles south of Osaka.
Wakayama Prefecture officials issued a statement accusing environmentalists of "psychological harassment" and saying Taiji fishermen "are just conducting a legal fishing activity in their traditional way in full accordance with regulations and rules under the supervision of both the national and prefectural governments," according to United Press International.
In the USA, those voicing opposition to the hunt included Caroline Kennedy, who was sworn in last year as U.S. ambassador to Japan. "Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing," she tweeted.