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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wildlife: Japan Calls Off Whaling Ships

Are you against whaling?  If so, then you will be happy to hear that anti-whaling activists are putting up a real fight over in Japan.  Recently, the Japanese ended its whaling season early, bringing all of the ships back to port due to “harassment” from environmental activists, such as Sea Shepherd.  Since Japan fisheries could no longer ensure the safety of the whalers, they were forced to end the season early.  Although the whaling has only ended for the season, this is a huge step in whale protection because it shows that activists are making whaling very difficult for places like Japan.

The Japanese whaling fleet consists of 180 people spread out among four ships.  If allowed to continue whaling during the southern winter season, the fleet was expected to kill around 945 whales.  Commercial whaling was banned in 1986, but Japan is allowed to continue whaling because it receives permits to hunt whales for scientific research.  Although most people in Japan have tried whale meat at one point, most do not eat whale meat on a regular basis.  The Japanese who do eat whale meet regularly argue that international powers have no right interfering with their cultural traditions.  Australia and New Zealand are very strong opponents to whaling and Australia is even in the process of going through the International Court of Justice to fight Tokyo over whaling.

Upon doing research on this topic, I discovered an interesting article from 2007 highlighting a bowhead whale thought to have lived to about 130 years old!  The whale had been hunted off the coast of Alaska and a 130-year-old spearhead had been found stuck in its side.  This implies that the whale was hunted once before as a calf, but since traditional whale hunters did not capture calves, the whale escaped.  Biologists claim that this evidence helps support the idea that the bowhead whale is the oldest living mammal on earth.  Keep an eye out for more anti-whaling news to help preserve this awesome mammal!

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