Sickening images have revealed the moment a cove in Japan turned red with the blood of hundreds of slaughtered dolphins.
Despite international calls for the animals to be spared, more than 250 dolphins, including babies, were systematically killed just before 7.30am Tuesday.
Members of the marine conservation group Sea Shepherd, who are monitoring the annual cull in Taiji, said the captive pod was unable fight from lack of food, exhaustion, and injuries sustained from killers and motors over the last five days.
Trapped with no escape, the dolphins are "wrangled and wrestled into the killing cove, where they've sustained multiple injuries," campaigners have said.
"Dolphin killers deliberately run over the pod with skiffs, they wrestle them, man-handled them into captive nets before even being slaughtered," Melissa Sehgal, a Sea Shepherd activist, told Reuters.
Hidden from view beneath tarpaulin covers, the fishermen drive metal rods into the dolphins’ spinal cords and leave them to die. "It takes up to 20 to 30 minutes for these dolphins to die, where they bleed out, suffocate or drown in the process of being dragged to the butcher house," the activists said.
More than 50 of the mammals, including a rare albino calf, were selected and removed from the pod for sale to aquariums and water parks. Together they are expected to fetch millions of dollars.
The few remaining dolphins were forced to swim in the blood of their family members – the juveniles were not large enough or worthy of quota and after several hours, were driven back out to sea and left to fend for themselves.
Many of these surviving dolphins will not survive and will soon be found washed ashore in the coming days, Sea Shepherd said.