The Taiji Cove
This is where it all happens. Hundreds of dolphins are herded into shore every year, to be slaughtered for meat or to be captured and sent to sea pens to be trained for a lifetime in captivity. The season for the dolphin hunts lasts six months, from Sept. 1st through the end of February. In Japan, the hunting is done by a select group of fishermen. When a pod of dolphins has been spotted, fishing boats move into position. One end of a steel pipe is lowered into the water, and the fisherman aboard the boats strike the pipe with mallets.
This is done at strategic points around the pod, in an effort to herd them toward land. The clamor disrupts the dolphins' sonar throwing off their navigation and herds them towards the bay which leads to a sheltered cove. There, the fishermen quickly close off the area with nets to prevent the dolphins' escape. As the dolphins are initially quite agitated, they are left to calm down over night. The following day, fishermen enter the bay in small boats, and the dolphins are caught one at a time and killed. The primary method of dispatch was for a long time to cut the dolphin's throat, severing blood vessels, and death was due to exsanguination.
The government banned this method and now the officially sanctioned method requires that a metal pin be driven into the cervical region ("neck") of the dolphin, severing its brainstem, which causes it to die within seconds, according to a memo from Senzo Uchida, the executive secretary of the Japan Cetacean Conference on Zoological Gardens and Aquariums.
According to an academic paper published in 2013 in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science titled A Veterinary and Behavioral Analysis of Dolphin Killing Methods Currently Used in the 'Drive Hunt' in Taiji, Japan, those killing methods involving driving a rod into the spine and using a pin to stop bleeding that is used by the Japanese in Taiji creates such terror and pain that it would be illegal to kill cows in Japan in this manner. Several veterinarians and behavioral scientists evaluated the current Taiji Japanese killing method and concluded that "This killing method….would not be tolerated or permitted in any regulated slaughterhouse process in the developed world.