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Whalers accused of slaughtering endangered blue whale off coast of Iceland

13 July 2018

An Icelandic whaling company has been accused of deliberately killing an endangered blue whale - possibly the first in 40 years.

Photos of the whale provided by Icelandic-based anti-whaling group Hard to Port show the large animal being towed into a port and crew members standing alongside it.

In a statement released on July 11, Sea Shepherd said they had contacted several scientific experts specializing in whale identification and came to the conclusion that "The whale is without question a blue whale".

However, Iceland doesn't follow the global moratorium on killing all whales, and will give permits for hunting fin whales, which they do not believe are threatened.

Experts believe the whale could be a blue whale-fin whale hybrid.

Kristjan Loftsson, the managing director of Hvalur, said he was certain it was not a blue whale. Most countries in the world, including in the Americas, Australia, and most of Europe, are opposed to lifting the commercial whaling ban, and as you might guess, Norway, Iceland, and countries which receive aid from Japan, like those in the Caribbean and West Africa, are in support of lifting the ban.

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. "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.

"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".

Sea Shepherd has had crew on the ground since the slaughter of whales began on June 20. "We see them in the ocean". Simmonds, said: "This bad 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". Before the commercial whaling of the 20th century there were about quarter of a million blue whales.

Whalers accused of slaughtering endangered blue whale off coast of Iceland