Whalers harpoon and kill endangered blue whale - the first in 50 years

Blanche Robertson
July 12, 2018

Gísli Arnór Víkingsson at the Iceland Marine Institute confirmed to mbl.is that they received information that a hybrid whale may have been caught.

Sea Shepherd claim that the Hvalur hf whaling station in Hvalfjordur killed and slaughtered the endangered animal, then posed with its body.

Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf who recently began hunting fin whales again, may have killed a rare, protected blue whale or a blue whale/ fin whale hybrid. "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".

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.

Phillip Clapham, head of cetacean assessment at the Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle, studied photographs of the whale caught by Hvalur and said it was likely to be a blue whale, not a hybrid.

"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.

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Simmonds, of HSI, said: "It looks very much as though Iceland has harpooned the first blue whale in over 50 years, and if that's the case then that's really horrifying news".

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

"The killing of such a majestic creature, blue whale or hybrid, represents a significant crime against nature, given the rarity of these species and the threats to their survival today".

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

'This man must be stopped from ruthlessly violating worldwide conservation law and bringing such disrepute to the nation of Iceland. "I know a blue whale when I see one and this whale slaughtered by Kristjan Loftsson is a blue whale".

The whaling company had resumed a controversial hunt for fin whales on 22 June after a two-year break and said they killed the blue whale by accident. Blue whales and Fin whales are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). 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.

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