Live-Streaming A Nightmare: Japan's Dolphin Hunt

[Ed: Scroll down for updates.]

It's been four years since the Oscar-winnng "The Cove" exposed the annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan, to an international audience and left many of us, lulled by a belief that attention and awards bring change, to assume that cinematic thunder crack would have ended the tragic spectacle. But it's still happening. And I mean happening -- right now, in Taiji cove, and you can witness it for yourself thanks to the indefatigable efforts of The Sea Shepherd and their livestreaming coverage (Warning: Disturbing video).

On Friday, 250 bottlenose dolphins were rounded up in the shallow waters of the cove, where about 25 -- including the icon of this tragedy, a baby albino dolphin -- were removed, presumably to be sold into captivity for aquatic parks and aquariums. In just about four hours (5 p.m. ET --updated, it's begun), the hunters will return, sorting out more of the dolphins to take into captivity, then slaughtering the rest for their meat, turning the cove's waters a deep red.

What stings most about this is that we know of the deep intelligence and emotional abilities of dolphins and other cetaceans (like, of course, orcas). We learn more about them constantly -- just this week we learned that dolphins appeared to whistle to their babies in the womb. The logic we used to employ for years, decades, and in the case of the Taiji dolphin hunters, centuries before -- they're not like us, they won't probably suffer much, they don't feel the way we do -- we know now is not true. It renders the cultural arguments on behalf of these hunts utterly irrelevant. And it forces us into the nauseating position of feeling helpless to stop it.

What you can do: Call and write to the authorities in Taiji as well as the Japanese Embassy in your country, the U.S. Embassy to Japan, U.S. and Japanese Ambassadors to the UN and the U.S. Senate members of the Committee on Foreign Relations, among others -- all of their contact information is on this page.

An encouraging sign: Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, tweeted her dismay at the "inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing" and reiterating the U.S. opposition to such hunts. Her tweet -- and an array of others -- follow:

Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG opposes drive hunt fisheries.

- キャロライン・ケネディ駐日米国大使 (@CarolineKennedy) January 18, 2014

URGENT: 250 bottle nose dolphins in Taiji cove now. #tweet4taiji please stop the slaughter. RT. Thank You.

- Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) January 17, 2014

Guys this dolphin roundup is making me sob so hard. How is this still happening after The Cove doc?

- Felicia Day (@feliciaday) January 17, 2014

Still can't get over this! Stop this BullSh%^!!!!!!

- ian somerhalder (@iansomerhalder) January 18, 2014

I am sickened and embarassed to b a human being right now with the murder of beautiful dolphins in taji. So beyond fucked up. #stopthis

- Diane Warren (@Diane_Warren) January 18, 2014

horrified by the Japanese in Taiji today

- Bryan Adams (@bryanadams) January 18, 2014

UPDATE: The baby albino dolphin has been taken into captivity by the Taiji Whale Museum. A photo of the dolphin was posted to the aquarium's Facebook page today. A YouTube user has already posted a video of the dolphin at the aquarium:

click to play video

According to The Cove Guardians, more dolphins are being selected for captivity:

Captive selection has begun. Killers wrap dolphins in nets and bring them to the shore for inspection by trainers. 7:29a #tweet4taiji

- Cove Guardians (@CoveGuardians) January 18, 2014

3rd skiff has left the cove with 2 new captives. 6 Bottlenose have been abducted today 31 over the last two days 8:23 - Cove Guardians (@CoveGuardians) January 18, 2014

Today, 14 Bottlenose dolphins were taken captive alive & 1 died from the grueling process. A total of 40 Bottlenose have been kidnapped 2:15 - Cove Guardians (@CoveGuardians) January 19, 2014

The third day of roundups started Sunday night, EST:

Begun our stream as killers and trainers have entered the cove for the kidnapping and murdering of 200+ dolphins 6:57 - Cove Guardians (@CoveGuardians) January 19, 2014

According to USA Today, officials from the district where the hunt is taking place have issued a statement:

Wakayama Prefecture officials issued a statement accusing environmentalists of "psychological harassment" and saying Taiji fishermen "are just conducting a legal fishing activity in their traditional way in full accordance with regulations and rules under the supervision of both the national and prefectural governments," according to United Press International.

A petition has been launched calling for the albino dolphin to be returned to the wild.