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West Japan beach offering bathers a chance to swim with dolphins

Risso's dolphins Satsuki, foreground, and Shiro are seen in a pen at Kujirahama swimming beach in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture. (Mainichi/Manabu Matsuda)

TAIJI, Wakayama -- Two Risso's dolphins kept by a marine life facility in this west Japan town were recently moved to an offshore pen at an enclosed local beach, and they will be released at the beach twice a day so bathers can swim with them.

    Fumiaki Tomita, 34, chief keeper of the Taiji Whale Museum, is promoting the event as the only beach in Japan where visitors can enjoy swimming with Risso's dolphins.

    The marine animals are a female named Satsuki, estimated at 13 years old, and a male called Shiro, estimated at 26 years old. They are both about 3 meters long and weigh about 400 kilograms. On July 21, the two were placed on either side of a boat and taken to the pen located at Kujirahama swimming beach in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture. When they were released into the pen, both dolphins swam around energetically and vigorously ate the small fish they were fed.

    The two are released from the pen at the beach at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. for 15 minutes each until Aug. 16. The event may be canceled due to bad weather or other reasons. For inquiries, contact the town tourist association at 0735-59-2335 (in Japanese).

    (Japanese original by Manabu Matsuda, Shingu Local Bureau)

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