International hacking group “Anonymous” has stated that it breached and shut down the official Wakayama Prefecture website earlier today as a taste of what may come should local fishermen continue to hunt dolphins. The prefecture is home to Taiji, the coastal town that shot to infamy in 2010 following an exposé in the film The Cove, which documented the mass slaughter of thousands of dolphins that takes place in the area each year.
At 09:05 a.m. today, a message from Twitter user @YourAnonPriest stated that Taiji (which is, in fact, a city rather than a prefecture) was “offline”. Animal news site The Dodo reports that when checked the website was indeed inaccessible, though it came back online a few minutes later, with the same Twitter user stating that the intrusion had been a “warning”, and hinting that more attacks could follow should the Japanese government not bow to pressure and put an end to the hunt.
Dolphin and whale hunting has been a part of Taiji City’s heritage since the 17th century, with dolphin hunts taking place each year between September and April. Animal rights groups have long protested the annual killings, which involve herding migrating dolphins into a narrow cove before trapping and slowly killing them, but Taiji spokespersons, particularly following the release of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove, protested that the fishermen in the area are acting within the law, and contested much of scientific evidence put forward by the film.