'Depressing, sadistic': Horrifying photo shows entire pod of whales slaughtered by hunters

An entire pod of whales has been killed by Japanese hunters according to a report from a prominent animal welfare charity who witnessed the event.

Dolphin Project shared horrifying photographs of 35 small melon-headed whales huddled together before their deaths.

In an accompanying post to social media, the group detailed the pod’s last moments as they were forced into what is known as the “killing cove” in Taiji, Japan on Tuesday.

“For sentient, self-aware, intelligent and intensely social animals, the level of suffering involved in the entire drive and slaughter process is unimaginable,” they said.

“No lives were spared.”

The activists then captured the aftermath of the hunt, sharing images online of slaughtered dolphins with their tails tied together.

Melon headed whales tied together with rope by their tails.
Whales are hauled behind a boat after they are slaughtered by Japanese hunters. Source: Dolphin Project

Dolphin Project founder Ric O’Barry told Yahoo News Australia he hopes the horrifying images will create change in Japan.

“(The hunt is) depressing, sadistic, but most of all unnecessary,” he said.

“This dolphin slaughter will end when the Japanese people rise up against it.

“Today’s exceptionally cruel event in Taiji is a good example of why it’s imperative to keep live streaming, why it’s important to keep a light on Taiji during the entire six months of the annual dolphin slaughter.”

Close-up photo of the pod of distressed whales huddled together.
The pod of melon-headed whales huddled together before they were slaughtered. Source: Dolphin Project
Split screen - Left: Melon-headed whales clumping together in the water. Right: A blurry image of whales tied together by their tails
Ric O'Barry is calling on tourists to stop visiting dolphin parks. Source: Dolphin Project

Japanese opposition to whale killing season

A growing number of Japanese nationals have been protesting against the hunt, and there has been a decline in the popularity of dolphin and whale meat.

At the beginning of the season each year, the dolphin hunt receives global attention, but as it continues on that coverage fades.

Mr O’Barry blames the continuation of the slaughter on the dolphin park industry, noting that many of them send trainers to the region to buy wild caught dolphins.

This year the dolphin drive quota is 1749, which includes 298 bottlenose dolphins and 200 melon-headed whales.

Once the trainers select the most prized dolphins for their theme parks the others are killed.

Few are released.

This year Dolphin Project volunteers have filmed the slaughter using both cameras and drones, live streaming it on social media to raise awareness.

The activists say they will continue their work in Taiji, sharing news from the Cove each day until the season ends in March.

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