Taiji floats plan to create whale zoo

JIJI

The town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, has floated a plan to turn part of a local bay into a huge pool where people can swim and kayak along with small whales and dolphins.

The town, which is known for its annual dolphin hunt, aims to officially launch the project within five years after hammering out the plan with the prefectural government, which manages the bay, and pearl farmers operating there.

“We’ve never heard of such an attempt elsewhere,” an official at the Fisheries Agency said.

The plan, compiled by a local resident panel, calls for building a pool stretching roughly 28 hectares by putting up a net at the entrance to Moriura Bay in northwestern Taiji.

Black whales and bottlenose dolphins caught around the town are to be released into the pool, which would be developed as a natural park that also includes beaches and mud flats.

The town government will also look into the possibility of raising large whales and using the park for therapy and ecological research.

The town hopes to make the area a center for whale research by inviting research institutions from outside as well.

The plan is part of efforts to make the whole town a natural museum that will allow people learn about whales, including the culture and history of whale hunting.