Potential Welfare Impacts of Chase and Capture of Small Cetaceans during Drive Hunts in Japan

Courtney S. Vail, Diana Reiss, Philippa Brakes, Andrew Butterworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
108 Downloads (Pure)


Drive hunts are a method to herd, capture and kill small cetaceans (whales and dolphins) in coastal waters of some countries including Japan and the Faroe Islands. In Japan, these methods are often associated with the acquisition of live dolphins for international marine parks and aquaria. During the hunts, dolphins are herded by a flotilla of fishing vessels and loud underwater noise created by fishermen banging hammers on metal poles. The prolonged and strenuous chase and use of sound barriers to herd, capture, and restrain the dolphins can result in acute stress and injury. The authors review physiological and behavioral data pertaining to chase, encirclement, and live capture of dolphins and draw comparisons between chase and capture data for marine and terrestrial species. This analysis raises substantial welfare concerns associated with the hunts and acquisition of dolphins from such capture operations. The authors assert that this data detailing the negative impacts of chase, herding and handling (capture) of small cetaceans renders these hunts inherently inhumane and should inform policy relating to the collection and management of dolphins in the wild.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Early online date26 Feb 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Feb 2019


  • Drive hunts
  • dolphin welfare
  • conservation
  • dolphin collection methods
  • capture myopathy

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