Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

Whalers accused of slaughtering endangered blue whale off coast of Iceland

Blue whale Hard To Port There has been a ban on hunting blue whales since they nearly became extinct
Sandy Nunez | 13 July, 2018, 17:39

"This is a deplorable act - the blue whale, the largest animal ever to grace our planet - is endangered and protected under all relevant global agreements", he said.

In a statement released on July 11, Sea Shepherd said they had contacted several scientific experts specializing in whale identification and came to the conclusion that "The whale is without question a blue whale". This is what we have had with other hybrids in the past.

Hybrids are very similar to fin whales from above but they have a different colour to their stomach.

"It was taken as a fin whale, but it [will] turn out to be a hybrid".

"It's bad enough that Iceland is already killing endangered fin whales, but it beggars belief that this whaling crew couldn't even tell the difference between a fin and blue whale".

Dr Phillip Clapham, from the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Centre, said: 'While I can't entirely rule out the possibility that this is a hybrid, I don't see any characteristics that would suggest that.

Iceland resumed commercial whaling in 2006.

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A change in Japanese regulations caused the Icelandic government to reconsider their moratorium on whaling, as Loftsson's company kills fin whales predominantly for export to the Japanese market. "They have blue all over their body, you see it, it's easy", he said.

"There is nearly no possibility that an experienced observer would have misidentified it as anything else at sea".

Icelandic whalers were spotted killing the whale earlier this week, with concerning pictures showing the animal's dark belly and black baleen - indicating it is a blue whale.

Sea Shepherd UK's Chief Operating officer Robert Read demanded that DNA samples should be taken from from all the whale meat and parts in storage at Loftsson's whaling station and warehouses. It makes hunting for blue whales illegal, and as far as we know, none have been deliberately killed since 1978.

"I have viewed plenty of blue whales on the surface, dived with them beneath the surface in West Australia, off the coast of California, in the Southern Ocean and in the waters off Newfoundland", he said. Although an global moratorium has placed catch limits at zero for blue whales, Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation all objected to that provision.

"Iceland's whaling is rogue and archaic and should command diplomatic criticism at the highest levels". Prior to the catastrophic commercial whaling of the 20 century it is estimated that there were in the region of a quarter of a million blue whales, but their populations crashed in the 1950s and 60s.