Thursday, 20 September, 2018

United States professor of biology believes hunted whale to be a blue whale

Rare blue whale hybrid possibly hunted by Icelandic whaling company United States professor of biology believes hunted whale to be a blue whale
Cary Marshall | 13 July, 2018, 17:40

Dr Phillip Clapham from NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Centre said: "It has all the characteristics of a blue whale; given that - notably the coloration pattern".

"They go after it as a fin whale".

'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'.

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.

"This whale, when you see it swimming in the ocean, it was like a fin whale", he explained.

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.

If it is a blue whale, it will be the first time a member of that species has been harpooned in half a century. "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".

Hvalur hf. have now hunted 22 fin whales since the beginning of the season.

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The first 21 whales killed were endangered fin whales, which the Icelandic government has permitted the company, owned by Icelandic fishing magnate Kristjan Loftsson, to slaughter despite an global moratorium on whaling, Sea Shepherd said.

Robert Reed, the Chief Operating Officer of Sea Shepherd, said: "The crime committed against this iconic whale must be fully investigated by independent inspectors with DNA samples taken from all the whale meat and parts in storage at Loftsson's whaling station and warehouses since the whale has been butchered and removed from view potentially to hide the evidence as Loftsson has no authority (even within Iceland) to kill a blue whale".

The organization says this is the 22nd endangered whale killed for export to Japan by Kristján Loftsson's commercial whaling company since June 20, 2018.

While blue whales are protected, there is no designated status for hybrid blue-fin whales because they are typically extremely rarely encountered.

"Iceland's whaling is rogue and archaic and should command diplomatic criticism at the highest levels". "We see them in the ocean". One has not been slaughtered for more than 50 years.

Mr Loftsson said there is "no way" his crew would have mistakenly killed a blue whale and that instead it was a hybrid of a blue whale and a fin whale, not protected under International Whaling Commission protocol.

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

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