'First blue whale' caught in 50 years

Christopher Davidson
July 12, 2018

Whaling company Hvalur hf, which reportedly killed the whale, is allowed to hunt fin whales legally in Iceland.

The animal rights campaigners Hard To Port published photos of the whale landing in Hvalfjörður.

An Icelandic whaling company has been accused of slaughtering an endangered blue whale in a "deplorable act", provoking anger and condemnation from the global marine conservationist community.

However, several scientific experts specialising in whale identification contacted by Sea Shepherd and HSI said it was undoubtedly a blue whale. If confirmed to be a blue whale, it would be the first detected harpooning in about 50 years.

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

"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. 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.

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".

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The huge carcass was seen being hauled in to port by the Hvalur 8 ship while tied to the side of the vessel before being dragged on to the dock on Saturday evening.

"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".

Sea Shepherd UK's Chief Operating officer Robert Read demanded that DNA samples should be taken from from all the whale meat and parts in storage at Loftsson's whaling station and warehouses.

"This whale, when you see it swimming in the ocean, it was like a fin whale", he explained. "Hybrids are not a protected species". Simmonds, said: "This awful incident comes as Japan is rumoured to be planning an attempt to overturn the global moratorium on commercial whaling, and clearly speaks to how utterly inappropriate it is for countries to even contemplate allowing a large-scale return to this grossly inhumane and haphazard industry".

'This man must be stopped from ruthlessly violating global conservation law and bringing such disrepute to the nation of Iceland. There are about 25,000 of them and 100,000 fin whales.

Humane Society International senior marine scientist Mark Simmonds also believed it was a juvenile blue whale or a rare fin whale-blue whale hybrid.

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