Fishermen in Taiji, Japan are apprently releasing bottlenose dolphins they have captured—after sorting the animals to choose about 50 for Japanese zoos and aquariums. About 50 pilot whales weren’t so lucky; they will be, or have already been, slaughtered for food.
Although the two similar species of pilot whale, Globicephala macrorhynchus and G. melas are not actually whales, but members of the dolphin family, their behavior is more like that of whales than of dolphins. They are also fairly small, with adult males reaching a length of around 20 feet (6+ meters) and a weight of 6,000 pounds. Females are smaller. Coloration is black to dark gray.
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Pilot whales travel in pods of up to 100 individuals and have often been hunted by herding, which is what reportedly took place yesterday in Taiji, Japan when about 50 pilot whales and about 100 bottlenose dolphins were captured by fishermen. Unlike past years when dolphins and pilot whales alike were slaughtered for food in Taiji, about half the dolphins are getting a reprieve and being released back into the open ocean, with the other half destined for Japanese zoos and aquariums.
The pilot whales, however, either have been or will be killed for food.
An environmental movie called “The Cove” that brought international attention to the annual slaughter in Taiji has apparently been responsible for a change in policy toward dolphin killing.
Bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales are both still fairly common marine mammals, both are widely distributed around the globe, and neither has a place on any official top 10 endangered species list.