Quantcast
Animals

Japan Kills More Than 120 Pregnant Whales

More than 120 pregnant female minke whales were killed this year in the Antarctic Ocean as part of Japan's controversial "scientific whaling" program.

The numbers were revealed in a newly released report presented earlier this month at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) Scientific Committee meeting in Bled, Slovenia.


According to the report, Japanese whaling vessels returned to port from the annual hunt with 333 Antarctic minke whales, of which 181 were females. Of those, 122 or 67 percent were pregnant. The whalers also took 61 immature males and 53 immature females.

The Japanese government plans to hunt about 4,000 whales over the next decade despite the IWC's 1986 moratorium on commercial hunting. The country launched its scientific whaling program in 1987 as a loophole to the moratorium and insists that the marine mammals are killed in the name of research.

However, Reuters noted that Japan's ultimate goal is the resumption of commercial whaling. The government insists that most whale species are not endangered and that eating whale is part of its culture, even though most Japanese people no longer eat it.

The Australian chapter of Humane Society International expressed outrage over the new figures and called on the Australian government to intervene.

"The killing of 122 pregnant whales is a shocking statistic and sad indictment on the cruelty of Japan's whale hunt," said Alexia Wellbelove, senior program manager at Humane Society International, in a statement. "It is further demonstration, if needed, of the truly gruesome and unnecessary nature of whaling operations, especially when non-lethal surveys have been shown to be sufficient for scientific needs."

"Whales are already facing substantial threats including bycatch in fisheries and marine pollution. Significant conservation efforts are underway worldwide to address these issues, so the least Japan could do is put away the harpoons," she added.

Survey Area in the New Antarctic Cetacean Science SurveyJapanese Institute of Cetacean Research

Conservation organization Sea Shepherd has long opposed Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean and has sent ships since 2005 to intercept the hunts. The group, however, did not send ships this year. Founder Captain Paul Watson told Australian Broadcasting Corp in August that Japan is "using military technology. They have real-time satellite coverage of where we are. We cannot close in on them."

"It's a waste of time and money to go down there and not be able to achieve anything," he added.

In November, Sea Shepherd released a grisly and unsettling video of a Japanese whaling fleet hunting in the Antarctic Ocean in an Australian whale sanctuary. The Australian government obtained footage of the hunt in 2008 but suppressed its release over diplomatic concerns with Japan. Sea Shepherd was only able to publicly release the film after winning a five-year Freedom of Information battle that began in 2012.

Australia's Labor party environment spokesman Tony Burke told the Sydney Morning Herald that the government "can't continue to turn a blind eye to this. It's appalling."

"There is nothing scientific about harpooning a pregnant whale, chopping it up and putting it on a plate. Japan's position on this is absurd and the Australian government must not be silent," he said.

Wellbelove added, "The continued killing of any whales is abhorrent to modern society, but these new figures make it even more shocking. We look forward to Australia and other pro-conservation countries sending the strongest possible message to Japan that it should stop its lethal whaling programs."

The next IWC meeting will be held in Brazil in September.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Politics
Jess Lundgren / CC BY 2.0

The Trump Administration’s ‘Dishonest’ Attack on Fuel-Economy Standards

By John R. Platt

The Trump administration's plan to freeze fuel-economy standards is "the most spectacular regulatory flip-flop in history," said a retired EPA engineer who helped to develop new the standards under the Obama administration.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
Lizzie Carr traveling down the Hudson River on her stand-up paddleboard. Max Guliani / The Hudson Project

Her Stand-Up Paddleboard Is a Platform for Campaigning Against Plastic Pollution

By Patrick Rogers

Lizzie Carr was navigating a stretch of the Hudson River north of Yonkers, New York, recently when she spotted it—a hunk of plastic so large and out of place that she was momentarily at a loss to describe it.

Keep reading... Show less
Science
The Ross Ice Shelf at the Bay of Whales. Michael Van Woert, NOAA

Scientists Study Ice Shelf by Listening to Its Changing Sounds

By Marlene Cimons

Researchers monitoring vibrations from Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf were flabbergasted not long ago to hear something unexpected—the ice was "singing" to them. "We were stunned by a rich variety of time-varying tones that make up this newly described sort of signal," said Rick Aster, professor of geosciences at Colorado State University, one of the scientists involved in the study.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
DSLRVideo.com / Flicker / CC BY-SA 2.0

'Go Out and Vote' Patagonia Endorses Candidates For First Time in Its History

Outdoor brand Patagonia is endorsing candidates for the first time in its history in an effort to protect the country's at-risk public lands and waters.

The civic-minded retailer is backing two Democrats in two crucial Senate races: the re-election of Sen. Jon Tester of Montana; and Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
Desert Bighorn Sheep in Joshua Tree National Park. Kjaergaard / CC BY 3.0

Leaked Trump Administration Memo: Keep Public in Dark About How Endangered Species Decisions Are Made

In a Trump administration memorandum leaked to the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is directing its staff to withhold, or delay releasing, certain public records about how the Endangered Species Act is carried out. That includes records where the advice of career wildlife scientists may be overridden by political appointees in the Trump administration.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Disposable diapers add staggering amounts of waste to landfills. Pxhere

Dirty Diapers Could Be Recycled Into Fabrics, Furniture Under P&G Joint Venture

Disposal diapers can take an estimated 500 years to decompose. That means if Henry VIII wore disposables, they'd probably still be around today.

Although throwaway nappies are undoubtedly convenient, these mostly-synthetic items cause never-ending steams of waste that will take centuries to disappear.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
The swelling barrier lake after a landslide forced evacuations along the Yarlung Zangbo River. YouTube screenshot / CCTV+

6,000 Evacuated After Tibet Landslide

Six thousand people have been evacuated after a landslide in Tibet Wednesday blocked a river that flows downstream into India, creating a lake that could cause major flooding in the subcontinent once the debris is cleared, The Associated Press reported.

Chinese emergency officials announced the evacuations Thursday. The landslide impacted a village in Menling County, but no one was killed or injured, Chinese officials said.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Pexels

Carbon Capture: What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Climate Change

By Daniel Ross

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report lays out a rather grim set of observations, predictions and warnings. Perhaps the biggest takeaway? That the world cannot warm more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5°C) over pre-industrial levels without significant impacts.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!