Villagers in the Solomon Islands killed over 15,000 dolphins from 1976 to 2013 for their teeth, which are used as currency or personal ornamentation, according to a study published Wednesday in Royal Society Open Science.
In 2013 alone, more than 1,600 dolphins were killed by residents in the village of Fanalei. The extracted teeth are valued at 70 cents apiece.
The traditional hunting method involves up to thirty canoes driving dolphins to shore, where they are killed.
Such hunts have been going on sporadically since the early histories of the villages. There was a brief respite in 2010 when the Earth Island Institute paid villagers to stop, but the agreement deteriorated in 2013 and 1,000 dolphins were killed.
While dolphins are not classified as endangered, the resurgence of these dolphin hunts worries scientists and conservation activists because they claim far more dolphin lives than hunts in Japan and elsewhere.