Whaling company accused of killing rare blue whale

Elias Hubbard
July 12, 2018

Blue whales were nearly hunted to extinction last century and there are only 10,000 to 25,000 left alive.

All hunted whales in Iceland are DNA tested when the season is over.

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.

They claimed the animal was killed by Kristján Loftsson's whaling company, which has been allowed to slaughter fin whales by Iceland's government despite an global moratorium on whaling and the endangered status of the fin whales.

Crew members then took turns posing for photo straddling its back, having needed run-ups to clamber on top of the world's biggest animal, video from the scene showed.

Hvalur has a licence from the Icelandic government to catch fin whales, which are more abundant, but on Saturday landed an animal that it said was a hybrid of the two species.

No other nation, not even Japan or Norway, slaughters Fin whales, and there had not been a Blue whale harpooned for the last 50 years until this one.

"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.

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".

'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'.

"This whale, when you see it swimming in the ocean, it was like a fin whale", he explained. "I know a Blue whale when I see one, and this whale slaughtered by Kristján Loftsson is a Blue whale".

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

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".

Blue whales are an endangered species but hybrids are not a protected species. Before the commercial whaling of the 20th century there were about quarter of a million blue whales.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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