Campaigners criticise Japan firm selling whale meat from vending machines

Kyodo Senpaku opened ‘stores’ at two locations in Tokyo after successful trial

A Japanese whaling company has sparked an angry response from animal rights campaigners after it started selling whale meat from vending machines in an effort to boost consumption.

Kyodo Senpaku, whose vessels led Japan’s whaling fleet during its controversial expeditions to the Southern Ocean, opened its first kujira (whale meat) “stores” at two locations in Tokyo this month after a successful trial late last year.

Continue reading...
Rare, precious, smells like whale: hunting for ambergris in New Zealand

On wild beaches, secretive harvesters seek the coveted whale byproduct that can make a fortune in an instant

Frans Beuse sits at his kitchen table, examining what looks like an array of rocks. Using a slim, sharpened blade he scrapes each in turn, producing five mounds of powder: bright white, deep caramel, tarry black.

Lighting a candle, he holds a thick needle into the flame, then into the powder, which smokes and bubbles into glossy liquid. Beuse leans forward, closing his eyes, and draws a thin tendril of smoke into his left nostril.

Continue reading...
Change lane, whales ahead: Sri Lanka urged to reroute shipping traffic

Unique colony of blue whales increasingly at risk from tankers and container ships, say marine campaigners

Scientists and conservation groups are calling for one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes to be rerouted in an effort to protect the world’s largest animal.

Since 2008, researchers have been painstakingly piecing together clues about a little-known, endangered population of blue whales that live off the southern tip of Sri Lanka. What they have discovered so far hints at one group of cetaceans or even a sub-species. Rather than migrating vast distances like most blue whales, the Sri Lankan population is thought to live in the region year-round, grazing on tiny shrimps and communicating via distinctive vocalisations.

Continue reading...
Japan’s whaling town struggles to keep 400 years of tradition alive

The resumption of killing whales for profit for the first time in over 30 years is offering little cause for celebration

You don’t have to look far to find evidence of Wada’s centuries-old connection to whaling. Visitors to the town on Japan’s Pacific coast are greeted by a replica skeleton of a blue whale before entering a museum devoted to the behemoths of the ocean.

At a local restaurant, diners eat deep-fried whale cutlet and buy cetacean-themed gifts at a neighbouring gift shop. At the edge of the water stands a wooden deck where harpooned whales are butchered before being sold to wholesalers and restaurants.

Continue reading...
Bill and tag’s excellent adventure: A year in the life of one southern right whale

A satellite tag which unexpectedly kept working for a year has followed one whale’s 15,000km journey across three oceans

A loud bang shatters the winter calm of Port Ross, in New Zealand’s remote Auckland Islands, and the small inflatable boat is rocked by the swirl of a 40-ton whale being swallowed up by the cold, dark water.

When it resurfaces, the team of scientists are happy to see their US$3,200 satellite tag securely fixed to his side. The whale, whom they have nicknamed “Bill”, slips away into the ocean, the tag transmitting his movements. A few days later, researchers watch as he starts heading west towards Australia.

Continue reading...
‘Very saddened’: Toa, the orphaned baby orca that enthralled New Zealand, is buried

Orca cared for by hundreds of volunteers and experts in bitter cold after becoming separated from its pod two weeks ago

An orphaned baby orca that captured the hearts of people across New Zealand has been farewelled at a special ceremony and taken away for burial, ending a desperate mission to reunite it with its pod.

The young calf, named Toa – which means brave or strong in Māori – was thought to be between two and six months old, and became stranded on rocks north of Wellington two weeks ago with minor injuries.

Continue reading...
New Zealand rescuers try to reunite stranded baby orca with pod

Hundreds of people have joined the search for the killer whale’s pod, with rescuers hopeful his family will return for him

Animal rescue teams in New Zealand have begun trying to reunite a baby orca with its pod after it was found stranded near Wellington.

A pair of teenagers found the male calf caught in the rocks near Plimmerton, north of the city, with minor injuries, on Sunday afternoon.

Continue reading...
Rescuers race to save dozens of stranded pilot whales in New Zealand

About 50 long-finned pilot whales became stuck in the shallow water off Farewell Spit, and about 26 have died

A team of experts and volunteers are racing the tides to save a pod of pilot whales stranded at Farewell Spit at the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island.

Dozens of the roughly 50 long-finned pilot whales have already died since they stranded on Monday, and the remaining animals stayed in the shallows on Tuesday morning despite efforts to move them out to sea.

Continue reading...
Campaigners condemn killing of minke whale trapped in nets in Japan

Animal killed with what appeared to be exploding harpoon, after one ‘half-hearted’ attempt to free it

Animal welfare campaigners have condemned the killing of a trapped minke whale off the coast of Taiji, a town in Japan best known for its annual dolphin cull.

The young whale, which had been trapped inside nets since 24 December, was killed with what appeared to be an exploding harpoon early on Monday morning before being taken ashore wrapped in blue tarpaulin, according to the Humane Society International [HSI].

Continue reading...
Minke whale trapped in nets in Japan for two weeks

Animal rights groups demand animal’s release but locals claim its size and strong currents are making it hard to free

Animal rights campaigners have demanded the immediate release of a minke whale that has been trapped for more than two weeks in nets in Taiji, a town on Japan’s Pacific coast known for its annul dolphin cull.

Japanese media reported that attempts were being made to free the four or five metre long whale but fishermen claimed its size and strong tidal currents were making it difficult to guide it into open water.

Continue reading...
Sri Lanka rescues 120 whales after biggest mass stranding

Gruelling rescue involved navy and volunteers pulling the pilot whales back into deeper waters

Sri Lanka’s navy and volunteers have rescued 120 pilot whales stranded in the country’s worst mass beaching, but at least two injured animals were found dead, officials said.

Sailors from the navy and the coastguard along with local volunteers had pulled back at least 120 whales by dawn on Tuesday after a gruelling overnight rescue operation, navy spokesman Indika de Silva said.

Continue reading...
Race to save 100 whales in Sri Lanka’s biggest mass beaching

Navy joins forces with rescuers and volunteers in effort to push pilot whales back into ocean

Rescuers and volunteers were racing to save about 100 pilot whales stranded on Sri Lanka’s western coast in the country’s biggest mass beaching.

The short-finned pilot whales began beaching at Panadura, 15 miles (25km) south of Colombo, shortly before dusk. Within an hour their numbers swelled to about 100, a local police chief, Sanjaya Irasinghe, said.

Continue reading...