HONG KONG — Japanese fishermen have captured a rare albino dolphin and killed 11 other dolphins in a shallow cove, according to conservation activists protesting the hunt.
The albino dolphin currently sits in a small holding pen where it is being trained to eat dead fish and adapt to human interaction, said members of the Sea Shepherd conservationist group, which monitors dolphin hunts in the region.
They speculate the rare dolphin will be sold for up to $500,000 to be displayed in captivity.
The controversial hunt takes place annually between September and March in Taiji, Japan. Most dolphins are killed for their meat, while some are sold live to aquariums around the world.
Locals defend the hunt, a long-held tradition, as no different than slaughtering any other animal for meat.
But activists say the hunt is driven by greed.
“This brutal hunt is carnage carried out in the name of profit, not culture,” said Melissa Sehgal, a Sea Shepherd campaign coordinator. “These dolphins do not belong to Japan; they belong to the ocean.”
The group says that 15 pods of dolphins have been slaughtered in the cove since this year’s hunting season began, with approximately 170 dolphins killed.
The Taiji Town Office declined CNN’s request for comment on Sea Shepherd’s newest report.