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Dolphins Stolen From Wild Cry In Half-Empty Tanks At 'Museum'

"[They're] in basically the world's worst bathtub."

Every year, hundreds of dolphins and whales are killed in the annual dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan. But as this recent video shows, the few who survive the hunt have it just as bad.

While most of the dolphins rounded up by the hunters are slaughtered for meat in front of their families, the few dolphins deemed "pretty" enough to save are rounded up to be sold into captivity. They can end up at marine parks around the world, but many of them remain at the Taiji Whale Museum - a local "museum" run by the city that features dolphin attractions in addition to a collection of whaling paraphernalia such as harpoons.

The conditions at the Taiji Whale Museum are tragic - photos released last month show several dolphins swimming in tanks so dirty they're nearly black. And a new video shows that things just keep getting worse.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

On Tuesday night, The Dolphin Project posted a live video taken by a volunteer visiting the Taiji Whale Museum. The clip shows several dolphins trying to swim in just a few feet of water, as their tanks have apparently been drained.

"One has just been beaching itself on that all day and crying," the volunteer says, noting that the water in the tanks is only waist-deep. "They're just so hungry. And distressed. And bored."

At some points, the dolphins can be seen raising their heads above the water, calling out frantically - at others, they float, seemingly depressed, bobbing against the walls of their tiny tanks.

"There is nothing in this but neglect and cruelty," she adds. "[They're] in basically the world's worst bathtub."

Unfortunately, this abuse isn't limited to Taiji. The annual hunt supplies many of the captive dolphins who are held in marine parks across the world, selling them for as much as $154,000.

The infamous red waters during the annual dolphin hunt | The Dolphin Project

Even marine parks that don't source dolphins from Taiji help create demand, and pressure similar institutions - who may not care as much about welfare - into purchasing them.

"After the audience goes home, this is what it's like," the volunteer says in the clip - she's cut off for a moment by a dolphin lifting her head and crying out. "If ever there was a reason to take the pledge not to buy a ticket to a whale or dolphin show, surely this is it."

"This is just so depressing to see something so beautiful living in so much horror," she added.

To help these dolphins, and to stop the cycle, you can take a pledge to avoid dolphin shows, donate to The Dolphin Project to support the Cove Monitor team, and even volunteer to go to Taiji yourself. Click here to find out other ways to help.