From a cliff above the tiny cove, a stocky, bald man could be seen between tightly drawn lengths of green tarpaulin, a metal rod in one hand, and something long, black and smooth wriggling helplessly under the other.

Suddenly, the waters come alive with frantic splashes as the two objects meet and the water the man's wading in turns a purplish red.

This was the culmination of the first dolphin cull of the 2009 season in Taiji, the fishing village in Wakayama Prefecture that gained worldwide attention following the release of the Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove" that year.