Japan Nears End of Scientific Whale Hunts

Photo: Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research

Japan’s last controversial “scientific” whale hunt in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary just concluded, Japan Today reported.  The government said they killed 333 minke whales, and of those, 122 of them were pregnant females.  Japan will no longer conduct this “science,” the government announced last December, and will no longer participate in the International Whaling Commission.  

  • In years past, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society followed the Japanese whalers and tried to disrupt their hunts — as chronicled in the TV show Whale Wars — but this year, the Sea Shepherd did not follow the whalers.
  • Japan will continue nonlethal scientific whale research in the Antarctic Ocean, such as counting the number of whales by visual inspection, the government announced.
  • Japan will conduct one more lethal scientific hunt (they are expecting to kill approximately 130 whales) in the northern hemisphere but will return to port by July when its withdrawal from the Whaling Commission goes into effect.

In other sad news, another dead whale washed ashore with a belly full of trash — this time in Sardinia, Italy, and tragically this whale was pregnant, according to National Geographic.

Why This Matters:  We know that we are a bit obsessed with whales — but they are a metaphor for all that is happening in the ocean.  Humans nearly caused all whales to go extinct due to excessive hunting for commercial gain.  Now the threats caused by humans — predominantly entanglements in fishing gear, noise, and plastic pollution — are much more diffuse and difficult to control.  But, as Patrick Ramage of the International Fund For Animal Welfare told ODP, “[t]he end of Antarctic and high seas whaling, a US policy goal since Ronald Reagan first championed the global whaling moratorium, is great news for whales and a leviathan development for marine conservation.”

Dead Sperm Whale Found in Sardinia Photo: Seame Sardinia, via National Geographic

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