The hunting season for dolphins has begun in Japan, accompanied by protests by animal rights activists. In the whaling town of Taiji, a group of Japanese activists gathered at the town’s bay on Friday – together with the world’s best-known opponent of the dolphin hunters, the American Richard O’Barry. They held banners calling for an end to the “slaughter” and battue of marine mammals in Taiji.

O’Barry has been mobilizing resistance to what’s going on in Taiji for years. Dolphinariums around the world support the hunt for the animals by rewarding fishermen for their behavior, O’Barry told the DPA news agency during one of his visits to the whaling town.

Taiji, in Wakayama Prefecture, is the setting for the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove, which made the annual slaughter notorious. Once fishermen spot dolphins off the Taiji coast, they herd the animals into a bay. To do this, the fishermen paralyze the dolphins’ sense of direction by hammering on metal rods that are held in the sea.

Young, healthy animals are sorted out on behalf of dolphinariums at home and abroad, the remaining marine mammals are slaughtered in a neighboring bay. Animal rights activists recently complained about a rapidly increasing trade in live dolphins.

Japan is one of the few countries where whaling and dolphin hunting are still legal. In addition to the East Asian country, the animals are also hunted in Iceland and Norway.