Fishermen drove hundreds of dolphins toward shore on an island in southern Japan on Saturday, causing the deaths of more than 100, officials said.

Fishermen discovered thousands of dolphins swimming Friday night in waters off Miiraku on Fukuejima island, 630 miles southwest of Tokyo, an official of the Miiraku Fisheries Cooperative said.He said dozens of fishermen drove the dolphins toward the sandy beach using ropes in hopes of killing some for food. But more than expected were trapped by the receding tide and were beached, he said.

At least 100 died on the beach but another 200 returned to open waters, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Television showed dozens of dolphin bodies on the beach, some thrashing their tails, with dozens more swimming in nearby shallow waters.

The official said fishermen and local people had taken most of the dead dolphins home to eat. "Many people here like to eat dolphin meat," he said.

Some owners of shops selling fish offered from 15 to 23 cents for each dolphin, he said.