In Japan, the annual slaughter of dolphins, porpoises and small whales continues.

Starting Sept. 1, and usually continuing through March, fishermen herd whole families of small cetaceans into a shallow bay and mercilessly stab and drown them to death. This annual slaughter was virtually unknown until 2003, when members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, mainly known for the show "Whale Wars," released covertly obtained film and photographs of the now-infamous bloody cove in a village called Taiji.

In 2009, a slaughter by the fishermen of Taiji was brought to the public when the Oceanic Preservation Society produced its first film, "The Cove," which won the Academy Award for best documentary feature the following year.

Ric O'Barry, who plays a huge part in the movie, has led a movement to stop this senseless slaughter and capture of these exquisite animals. He is also the founder of the Ric O'Barry Dolphin Project. The dedication of O'Barry and the Sea Shepherd society has been the only defense these wonderful animals have had. Unfortunately, all they can do is document the horrors in Taiji.

The Taiji fishermen try to claim that this is a tradition more than 100 years old, but it started in 1969 and has been an annual hunt since then. The main drive behind this hunt is to capture dolphins and sell them to aquariums, resorts and dolphin shows.

The average price of a dolphin is around $200,000. These fishermen are also killing the dolphins for meat. This meat can be highly contaminated with mercury and is unsafe for human consumption.

So what can we do to help stop this?

First, we can spread the word. The next thing is to stop supporting and buying tickets to any place that has dolphin shows, dolphins in captivity or activities involving swimming with dolphins.

If there is no market, then there is no need to continue this annual hunt.

You can also tell the World Assn. of Zoos and Aquariums to take action against the dolphin hunts.

Thousands of Japanese along with millions of other people throughout the world support halting this annual slaughter. The acts of 63 fishermen from Taiji do not represent the entire country of Japan.

Let's help preserve these wonderful species so our children and our children's children will be able to enjoy the beauty and mystic that we so luckily get to enjoy.

JEREMY OLSON, who wrote this piece with input from his friends at the Facebook Taiji Dolphin Action Group, lives in Costa Mesa.