Rare Albino Dolphin Captured By Japanese Fishermen

Japanese fishermen have captured a rare albino dolphin, and while the animal won’t be slaughtered, it could command a price of up to $500,000 in captivity.

The dolphin was caught in a cove located in Taiji, Wakayama, central Japan, according to the Daily Mail. Members of the Sea Shepherd conservationist group related that fishermen killed 11 other dolphins in the shallow cove, as part of a controversial hunt that takes place annually between September and March.

As CNN notes, most dolphins are killed for their meat during the hunt, while some are kept alive to be sold to aquariums worldwide. Locals defend the hunt as a tradition, asserting that the practice is no different than the slaughter of any other animal. Activist groups, however, claim that the hunt is driven by greed.

“This brutal hunt is carnage carried out in the name of profit, not culture,” said Sea Shepherd’s Melissa Sehgal. “These dolphins do not belong to Japan; they belong to the ocean.”

Since the beginning of the hunting season this year, Sea Shepherd notes that 15 pods of dolphins, totaling over 170 individual animals, have been killed in the cove. Over four days Last January, fishermen in Taiji captured 53 dolphins for sale to aquariums, while killing another 41 for their meat. The remaining dolphins were then driven back out to sea.

In 2010, the Taiji hunt was the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove, which exposed it to a worldwide audience. Though locals have utilized tarps and other screening strategies, Sea Shepherd and some news organizations have been able to capture photographs and video of the dolphin hunts.

Earlier this month, researchers in Africa unveiled findings which indicate that dolphins identify each other with signature whistles, in a process similar to the way human beings utilize names. As the Inquisitr reported, while captive dolphins were previously known to communicate in this fashion, the African study marks the first time that wild dolphins were proven to exhibit the behavior.

The rare albino dolphin was transferred to a holding pen in Taiji, where it is being trained to interact with humans and feed on dead fish.

[Image: AFP/Getty Images via the Daily Mail]