That drew the displeasure of conservative and often xenophobic Japanese web users known as “net uyoku,” who defend traditional Japanese practices against foreign criticism. The South China Morning Post reported that the angry online responses included “a poem that emphasised how delicious dolphin meat is, while several others compared consuming beef or lamb with dolphin and said that Westerners are hypocritical for condemning the traditional hunt.” Japanese government officials argued that the dolphins are not an endangered species and—unlike whales—they are not protected by international treaties. Dolphins are protected in Taiwan, however, where authorities seized 7.65 tonnes (8.4 tons) of frozen dolphin meat on Jan. 14.

Moral issues aren’t the only reason to reconsider one’s taste for a thick, fatty, dolphin steak. As pre-eminent marine predators, they accumulate high levels of toxic mercury as it works its way up the food chain—up to 250 times than the Japanese government’s recommended maximum, according to the non-profit Environmental Investigation Agency. Pregnant women are advised to eat no more than 80 grams (2.8 oz) of bottlenose dolphin every two months.

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