Are bottlenose populations being depleted by the Taiji hunts? Possibly. Bottlenose dolphins are a widespread species around the world, but they don't exist in large dense populations, unlike some other dolphin species.
Dolphins are the cognitive cousins of elephants and gorillas. We know them to be smart, to be self-aware; to know fear and to feel threat, and to also understand family, in ways with which we can -- and should -- empathize.
Japanese officials said that the slaughter is no different from that of other animals for food that may appeal more to Western tastes. But it seems that the butchery for food, like the cloak of tradition, hides a less palatable truth.
The fact that India is considering a prohibition on captivity is very significant to the global dolphin welfare movement, and falls in line with India's long-held culture of compassion towards animals.
It baffles me that whaling and dolphin killing can persist in the 21st century. Whale and dolphin watching generate over $2.1 billion per year around the world, vastly more than whale and dolphin killing.