Shocking new undercover images have shown the distressing moment more than 250 dolphins, including babies, were held captive in a cove in Japan, waiting for either a life in captivity, or slaughter.
Trapped with no escape, the helpless creatures are pictured clinging close to one another as they spent their remaining few hours together until the brutal selection process of the aquarium industry began today.
The infamous cove in Taiji on the south-west coast of Japan was made famous in the Academy Award-winning film The Cove, which documented the entire process from capture, to selection, to aftermath.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says some of the mammals will be sent to captivity but most will be killed for meat.
A single young albino bottlenose dolphin – worth considerable money to marine parks as spectator items and entertainment – could be seen amongst the trapped creatures.
The group said it was the largest pod to be driven into the cove in several years, and pictures uploaded to Facebook show the distressed creatures swimming in circles in shallow waters.
"It will be a total of 19 hours before the dolphins will be selected for captivity," Sea Shepherd said. "Those not selected will be slaughtered for human consumption.
"This pod is far too valuable and worth millions of dollars. The baby albino dolphin alone is quite priceless."
Sea Shepherd is using the hashtag #tweetfortaiji to raise awareness on social networks.
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