Annual Japanese dolphin hunt spurs social media outrage

Hunt Japan Cove Dolphin

The annual dolphin hunt became controversial internationally after the 2009 Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove detailed dolphin hunting practices in Japan.

Taiji is a Pacific coast town of about 3,200 in Higashimuro district, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, about 50 miles south of Osaka.

Wakayama Prefecture officials issued a statement accusing environmentalists of "psychological harassment" and saying Taiji fishermen "are just conducting a legal fishing activity in their traditional way in full accordance with regulations and rules under the supervision of both the national and prefectural governments," according to United Press International.

Save Japan Dolphins, a campaign that's part of the Earth Island Institute - a non-profit organization promoting conservation - is also calling for an end to the hunt, providing updates from Taiji Cove on its website and a link to a petition urging an end to dolphin hunting off the coast of Japan.

The hunt has caused outrage to spread on social media, with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society -- which has been live-streaming footage from the cove each day -- asking users to use the hashtag #tweet4taiji to raise awareness. Other hashtags gaining traction include #HelpCoveDolphins and #tweet4dolphins.

On Sunday, William Shatner tweeted "#deplorable" with a link to media coverage of the hunt ( via ).

Actress Kirstie Alley tweeted Saturday evening: "Dear Japan, how could such a stunning, brilliant, gorgeous country allow the bloody injustices of THE COVE? Please reign in your murderers."