A pod of dolphins have been filmed swimming closely together as hunters close in on them, kicking off Taiji's dolphin hunting season in the most heartbreaking way.
The video footage was filmed in Taiji, Japan, where dolphin drive hunting still takes place on a large scale.
It was shared by a non-profit organisation called Dolphin Project, who wrote on Twitter: "It's been a tragic start to the dolphin hunting season here in Taiji. The month is not even half over yet and we have seen brutal slaughters and heartbreaking captures take place."
According to Dolphin Project, the nursery pod of pilot whales - one of the largest species of oceanic dolphins - had been 'ruthlessly hunted' for hours, before being driven into shallow waters.
A blog post on the Dolphin Project website read: "Exhausted and traumatised, the family surfaced and spy hopped as they caught their breath.
"Once the nets were dropped and their fate was sealed, they swam in a tight circle, always touching one another. Their beautiful matriarch could be also be seen swimming around them, always rubbing up against members of her family."
The family was left alone overnight, but the hunters returned the next morning just after sunrise.
The whales were still 'swimmingly closely together as they tried to understand what was happening', but started getting separated to begin the captive selection.
The blog post continued: "The pilot whales were frantic to get away from the hunters but to also stay together.
"Their splashing echoed up towards us on the hill as we watched their desperate final attempts at freedom and life."
Eight pilot whales from the family were taken for a life in captivity, while the final group of captives were left waiting on the shore until a boat came to take them away - which was when the slaughteri began.
"The slaughter process was long, bloody and loud," the Dolphin Project blog post said.
"The pilot whales thrashed against the water as they were dying.
"We continued to live stream this horror, watching as their blood seeped out from under the tarps.
"The hunters slaughtered this family in phases, presumably because of their size. They appeared to kill three to four individuals at a time, so those left waiting for their turn at death had to swim in bloody water and witness their family slowly dying.
"The matriarch was killed and alone, she was taken to the butcher house. We could see her dead body floating on the surface as the boat prepared to take her away."