Saturday, 21 July, 2018

Commercial whalers 'kill first blue whale in over 50 years'

The company that caught the whale claimed it was a hybrid of two species The company that caught the whale claimed it was a hybrid of two species
Jeannette Daniel | 13 July, 2018, 06:23

An Icelandic whaling company has been accused of deliberately killing an endangered blue whale - possibly the first in 40 years.

Simmonds, of HSI, said: "It looks very much as though Iceland has harpooned the first blue whale in over 50 years, and if that's the case then that's really horrifying news".

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.

Photos of the massive mammal, which can grow to 33 metres long, were posted online by conservation groups claiming it was slain by Kristján Loftsson's whaling company, the Daily Mail reports.

Experts believe the whale could be a blue whale-fin whale hybrid. Humane Society International's Senior Marine Scientist, Mark Simmonds OBE, believes the whale to be a juvenile blue whale or, conceivably, a rare fin whale-blue whale hybrid.

"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". Most countries in the world, including in the Americas, Australia, and most of Europe, are opposed to lifting the commercial whaling ban, and as you might guess, Norway, Iceland, and countries which receive aid from Japan, like those in the Caribbean and West Africa, are in support of lifting the ban.

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"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.

Loftsson's whaling station crew posed for photos next to and on top of the whale. "There is nearly no possibility that an experienced observer would have misidentified it as anything else at sea".

Photographs and video taken by the Sea Shepherd UK team on the ground near the whaling station make it possible to identify skin colour and pattern, baleen colour, shape of the dorsal fin and tail stock.

Activists want the animal to have DNA tests to prove it is a blue whale.

"Iceland's whaling is rogue and archaic and should command diplomatic criticism at the highest levels".

Like fin whales, they are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as "endangered", with an estimated global population of between 10,000 and 25,000. 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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