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Call to stop use of captive dolphins at Sochi Olympics

Bottlenose dolphins, like the two pictured above, are due to be used in a display at Sochi next week. Credit: DPA

Animal welfare groups are calling on the International Olympic Committee to stop the planned use of captive dolphins at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games next month.

Endangered Black Sea bottlenose dolphins are due to be used in a display during the Olympic Torch relay in Russia, the Born Free Foundation said.

“Keeping whales and dolphins in captive conditions, where their biological and behavioural needs are compromised, is extremely detrimental to their long-term survival," said Born Free spokesman Daniel Turner.

"The IOC must give full consideration to the welfare of animals in this Olympic Games.”

Japan defends dolphin hunts after criticism from US

Fishermen in wetsuits seen hunt dolphins at a cove in Taiji, western Japan, on Monday. Credit: Reuters

Japan has defended its dolphin hunts after US ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy said she was "deeply concerned" about the practice where local fisherman corral dolphins in a secluded bay before killing many for meat.

"I believe dolphin fishing is one of Japan's traditional fishing industries and is carried out appropriately in accordance to the law," said Japan's cabinet secretary Yoshihide Duga.

"Furthermore, dolphins are not within the management of the International Whaling Commission and it is left to the respective nations to manage this resource."

Taiji Whale Museum staff veterinarian Shinji Sakamoto added: "People are just thinking too emotionally about the dolphins. They want to protect them just because they're cute and clever."

Hunting dolphins for shark bait 'barbaric'

Alison Wood from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation group has condemned the practice of using dolphin meat as shark bait as "wasteful and barbaric".

Whale and Dolphin Conservation said the practice was barbaric. Credit: Jim Wickens/Ecostorm/ITV News

In an interview with ITV News, she said it was completely unnecessary to butcher the animals in this cruel, inhumane way.

"You can use fish guts, and all sorts of things to bait your hook, you don't need to use a sentient, intelligent animal like a dolphin. It is an awful waste. We are talking about a highly intelligent, social, feeling animal, and to see them hunted like this, is barbaric.


Dolphin meat 'cheap alternative' to other shark bait

Slaughtering dolphins at sea is a cheaper alternative to other forms of bait for sharks, and the method of killing, harpooning, means that the dolphin can bleed for up to 15 minutes. The blood of the dolphin, then attracts sharks.

The blood from the harpooning of the dolphin attracts sharks. Credit: Jim Wickens/Ecostorm/ITV News

Dolphin hunting for shark bait 'an open secret' in Peru

The illegal slaughter of dolphins for use as bait to hunt sharks is "an open secret" within fishing communities across Peru, according to marine conservation group Mundo Azul.

Hundreds of small fishing boats use dolphins as shark bait. Credit: Jim Wickens/Ecostorm/ITV News

Working undercover with the group, British journalist Jim Wickens spent a week on board a shark fishing boat 100km off the coast of Peru, enduring rough seas and a near-death shipwreck incident in order to film the hunt.

Illegal slaughter of dolphins for shark bait filmed

For more than a decade scientists and environmentalists have been warning of a mass slaughter of dolphins around Peru.

Hundreds of fishing boats have been accused of killing the animals and using their fatty bodies as bait to catch sharks.

The killings, two or three per hunt, by hundreds of fishing boats around the country, add up each year to make it the biggest illegal slaughter of dolphins in the world, according to environmentalists.

ITV News has obtained footage that shows fishermen harpooning dolphins for bait. It's the first time this secret hunting has been filmed.

Science Editor Lawrence McGinty's report contains images you may find disturbing.

The footage, shot undercover by British journalist Jim Wickens, shows the hunting taking place, hundreds of miles off the coast of Peru.

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