Icelandic Whalers Accused of Killing Protected Whale
Icelandic Whalers Accused of Killing Protected Whale
The company that caught the whale claimed it was a hybrid of two species
13 July, 2018, 17:42
Commercial whaling has been banned since 1986 under the a moratorium issued by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), however in Iceland the government regulates the hunting of whales having expressed reservations about its prohibition.
"From the photos, it has all the characteristics of a Blue whale; given that - notably the coloration pattern - there is nearly no possibility that an experienced observer would have misidentified it as anything else at sea", said Dr. Phillip Clapham, NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Centre.
However, Iceland doesn't follow the worldwide moratorium on killing all whales, and will give permits for hunting fin whales, which they do not believe are threatened.
"From the photos, it has all the characteristics of a blue whale; given that - notably the colouration pattern - there is nearly no possibility that an experienced observer would have misidentified it as anything else at sea".
"Photographs point to the fact that it's a hybrid whale and we're nearly certain that it is one, but we can't be sure until autumn when we get it DNA tested", he said, according to ABC News.
"This whale, when you see it swimming in the ocean, it was like a fin whale", he explained.
If confirmed, this will cause serious problems for the whalers in question, as it's illegal to deliberately kill blue whales in Iceland, and it highlights a troubling whaling practice.
"I am absolutely confident that it's a hybrid", said Loftsson, according to the BBC.
An image taken by a conservation group shows an Icelandic company processing a killed whale.
"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".
Sea Shepherd, an organisation that campaigns against whaling, have been attempting to bring the story to light since the whale was killed on 20 June.
Photographs and video taken by the Sea Shepherd UK team near the whaling station allowed them to examine the species identifying indicators of skin color/pattern, baleen color, dorsal fin shape and tail stock.
"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.
"Iceland's whaling is rogue and archaic and should command diplomatic criticism at the highest levels". "Hybrids are not a protected species".
"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. "If this were a blue whale it would be against the regulations of the global whaling commision but if it's a hybrid there are no rules that have been broken".
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