Every year, thousands of dolphins are slaughtered along the coast of Japan in brutal drive hunts. The majority of dolphins caught in these hunts are butchered and their meat is sold in restaurants and supermarkets throughout the country. To fetch a higher price, and simultaneously tout itself as a more premium product, the meat is oftentimes purposely mislabeled as “whale” meat. A smaller percentage of the animals are spared from death, and instead sold to aquariums and marine parks in countries such as China, Taiwan, Egypt and the Philippines.
Drive hunts, also known as drive fisheries, refer to the practice of herding dolphins and small whales into coves where the animals are subsequently slaughtered or, more rarely, spared alive to be sold into captivity. While these hunts went on for years outside of the public eye, the rise of social media, revealing documentaries, covert video recordings and highly publicized protests have brought international attention and outcry to the issue of drive hunting.