Despite an international trend taking the opposite tack, the number of aquariums in Japan is growing and sales of dolphins continue to flourish, results of an independent study have revealed.

Animal welfare groups Elsa Nature Conservancy and Help Animals have collated data from official documents, marine facilities and other organizations showing Japan is the world's leader in aquariums and the numbers of cetaceans kept in them.

"When it comes to aquariums, Japan is the globe's superpower," leads the report, "Dolphins Raised in Japanese Facilities," released July 20. The majority of dolphins kept in captivity are taken from the wild and cetacean deaths within facilities "are not unusual," it continues.