Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Icelandic whaling company 'killed endangered blue whale'

Icelandic whaling company 'killed endangered blue whale'

Icelandic whalers appear to have killed an endangered blue whale before chopping it up to be eaten as a delicacy in Japan.

Genetic sampling has been conducted to establish the species of the whale, with experts unable to rule out the possibility it could be a rare blue/fin whale hybrid.

During this year's season, Sea Shepherd said Hvalur hf had killed 22 whales. "To mistake a blue whale for a fin whale is impossible, this whale has all the characterizations of a fin whale in the ocean".

"They go after it as a fin whale".

"It is like a fin whale, it behaves like a fin whale, but after you shoot it you notice [the characteristics] are different to a fin whale".

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".

A moratorium on commercial whaling was passed in 1982 by the International Whaling Commission, taking effect from 1985 onwards.

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To prove conclusively whether the whale was a blue or a hybrid would require a DNA test, Nicola Beynon, head of campaigns at HSI in Australia, said.

Phillip Clapham, head of cetacean assessment at the Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle, studied photographs of the whale caught by Hvalur and said it was likely to be a blue whale, not a hybrid.

Icelandic fishing magnate Kristjan Loftsson views the whale, believed to be a blue whale. "There is nearly no possibility that an experienced observer would have misidentified it as anything else at sea".

It claimed the animal showed all the features of a blue whale, including a "darker belly" and "bluish color".

"Iceland's whaling is rogue and archaic and should command diplomatic criticism at the highest levels". Blue whales and Fin whales are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

No blue whales have deliberately been caught since 1978, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature reports.

Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson, who has spent over a half a century defending whales, appealed to Icelandic authorities to stop Loftsson "from ruthlessly violating worldwide conservation law and bringing such disrepute to the nation of Iceland". 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.

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