Wildlife

Japanese Whale Slaughter

Japanese research vessels harpooned, killed and necropsied 333 Antarctic minke whales during an annual hunt last summer — and 122 of those whales were pregnant.

The expedition, reportedly mounted for “scientific research,” also resulted in the slaughter of 114 immature whales, according to a report of the hunt released by the International Whaling Commission.

According to the report, researchers set out to acquire data on the age, size and stomach contents of minke whales in the South Ocean between Australia and Antarctica. This involved shooting the whales with grenade-tipped harpoons (a controversial killing method that results in instant death only 50 to 80 percent of the time), hauling the slain whales aboard a research vessel and cutting them apart on-site.

Killing the whales in this fashion was necessary, the researchers wrote, as “age information can be obtained only from internal earplugs and therefore only through lethal sampling methods.”

Despite Japan’s claims that continued whale hunts like these are purely scientific, the country also allows whale flesh to be sold in markets and restaurants and ultimately plans to revive its commercial whaling industry, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. This potential profit motive — coupled with recent footage of Japanese vessels slaying whales in an Australian whale sanctuary — has resulted in international condemnation of the country’s brutal hunting practices.

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