Dolphins are being captured, awaiting slaughter in Taiji Cove, Japan. About 250 dolphins were captured and driven into the cove Jan. 17, as part of the yearly event for dolphin hunters to select which dolphins they want to send into captivity for entertainment purposes and which they want to slaughter for their meat. This is an old Japanese tradition, but environmental group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) has been fighting years to prohibit this yearly dolphin hunt, which was brought to light through the 2010 award-winning documentary “The Cove.” Many of the dolphins were mothers with their babies. Twenty five of them have been sent into captivity already. Among them is an albino dolphin worth thousands of dollars, which was separated from its mother. One dolphin died during the choosing and was hauled off to be butchered. The selection process is continuing through Sunday amid vehement protests from the SSCS and other environmental groups. Caroline Kennedy, who was chosen as U.S. envoy to Japan last year, expressed on Twitter her deep concern about the awful practice of dolphin hunting, which she says the U.S. condemns. Twitter has a hashtag, #Tweet4Taiji, for tweeters expressing their outrage and condemnation of this yearly dolphin massacre. Comedian Ricky Gervais encouraged tweeters to use the hashtag to express their support of a creature beloved worldwide and admired for its keen intelligence. For its part, Japan says dolphin hunting is legal. According to the Wakayama Prefecture, dolphin hunters have been subject to continual psychological harassment from various animal protection agencies but the country is only following a tradition that is fully protected by law. The dolphins captured, awaiting slaughter in Japan’s Taiji Cove are seen as being potential moneymakers, especially the albino dolphin captured. Dolphins aren’t the only animal Japan hunts. Whale hunters are harassed, too, and although yearly whale hunting is legal, it’s only through a loophole law that allows them to hunt whales at all. This loophole makes the distinction that whale hunting is OK as long as whales are hunted for the purpose of scientific research. Both whale and dolphin meat are available for consumption in Japan but environmentalists warn that dolphins contain high levels of toxins, notably mercury. Dolphins are considered social creatures, moving about in groups known as “pods.” With their keen eyesight and hearing 10 times that of the adult human, dolphins use these senses to find food. They form tight bonds with each other, and aid injured dolphins. They are also known for aggression toward one another, and male dolphins can bear various scars from bites. Complete studies of dolphins have not been possible but what current studies do show is that dolphins have various ways of communicating with each other, much like humans do. They actually do not whistle but they make clicking sounds and the loudest vocalizations of any other mammal. Their method of communication is similar to humans, in that they use vocal cords much the same way we do.