Icelandic whalers kill blue whale

by    DiveSSI    12th July 2018
Bluewhale_NOAA_Gemeinfrei_klein
Blue whale (c) NOAA
Blue whale or hybrid_klein
The killed blue whale (c) Arne Feuerhahn / Hard to Port
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The killed blue whale (c) Arne Feuerhahn / Hard to Port

Whale protectors speak of environmental crime

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Organization (WDC) is alarmed by photographs documenting the cut up of a blue whale. In the Red List of Endangered Species, the Blue Whale is listed as critically endangered. On Sunday, July 8th, 2018, the Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf debarked the 22nd catch of the season at the whaling station in Hvalfjörður – a Blue Whale as it seems.
 
The whale immediately attracted the attention of Arne Feuerhahn, a German conservationist who documented the hunt. International whale experts now confirm that it is not a Finn, but a blue whale or a blue / fin whale hybrid.

The company of Kristján Loftsson had resumed the controversial fin whale hunt after a two-year break on June 22 - we reported. During the season, up to 238 endangered fin whales could be killed under a self-allocated quota. Iceland disregards the international ban on commercial whaling.

Up to 90% of the total population has been wiped out

Blue whales are up to 33 meters in length and the largest animals on earth. The total population is estimated at 10,000 to 25,000 animals, which is why they are classified as highly endangered. Since 1966 hunting for blue whales has been prohibited internationally. They are the symbol of the out-of-control mass slaughter that took place in the 20th century in the name of industrial whaling. Experts estimate that up to 90% of the total population was wiped out by commercial whaling.

Blue / fin whale hybrids are very rare. The Icelandic authorities confirm that since 1986 five hybrids have been identified by researchers in the waters around Iceland. Four of them were killed by Icelandic whalers. The fifth is a whale known to whale watchers in Icelandic Husavik. This was identified by non-lethal methods as a hybrid.

Astrid Fuchs, program director at WDC, says: "This incident confirms that whaling is still a serious threat to endangered animals and can never be sustainable, and that in the 20th century, whaling was out of control and still is." Kristján Loftsson’s activities are nothing less than environmental crime."

"Catching this whale is a tragedy that leaves people around the world speechless, and it's sad that a single man's reckless behaviour damages Iceland's reputation," said Arne Feuerhahn, managing director of Hard to Port.

Dr. Marianne Rasmussen, head of the Blue Whale project at the University of Húsavík, and an expert on blue whales off Iceland, commented: "Due to the appearance and colour of the lower jaw and the bale plates, it cannot be a fin whale, the spotty gray colour of the body indicates a blue whale, so the whale in question is either a blue whale or a blue / fin whale hybrid. Genetic testing is needed to make a definitive statement."

Other international whale experts have confirmed Dr. Rasmussen statement. The whalers are required to take samples of every animal caught. WDC has contacted the Icelandic authorities asking for a quick release of the test.

More Information: uk.whales.org

Written by
DiveSSI
Date
12th July 2018
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