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Icelandic whalers kill blue whale، activists say، first in 40 years

Thursday 12/July/2018 - 02:56 PM
Sada El Balad
Edited by Ahmad El-Assasy
An Icelandic commercial whaling company has reportedly killed a blue whale، an endangered species and the largest animal known in existence، prompting outrage from conservationists،according to “CNN”.

The Hvalur hf company killed and butchered a blue whale last Saturday at their whaling station in Hvalfjordur، Iceland، according to Sea Shepherd، an anti-whaling organization.
The last recorded deliberate capture was in 1978، 40 years ago، according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

A member of the crew hoses down the whale. The hooked dorsal fin is characteristic of blue whales.

Reaching 30 meters long and weighing up to 200 tonnes، blue whales are internationally protected and rarely hunted. Even countries that practice whaling، such as Japan and Norway، typically hunt species other than blue whales.

The photos، taken by Sea Shepherd volunteers who monitor the Hvalur hf station، show enough detail to identify the species، said Adam A. Pack، researcher and professor of biology at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

A blue whale at the Hvalur hf whaling station in Hvalfjordur، Iceland.
"In my opinion، it looks like this is probably a blue whale -- (look at) the way the dorsal fin is hooked، the pointed pectoral fins، and the size of the animal،" Pack said.

Although there has been some speculation that the pictured whale may be a bluefin whale hybrid، Pack noted that it doesn't have the distinctive white lip coloration that is characteristic in fin whales. Furthermore، the mottling on the whale's flank، an identifier similar to fingerprints، looks like that of a blue whale، he said.

Although conservationists and organizations have long fought against the practice of whaling، this killing is a particularly sharp blow due to the blue whale's rarity and protection status.
Blue whales have been protected worldwide by the International Whaling Commission since the 1960s، after decades of what Pack calls "unchecked exploitation."

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)، blue whales were nearly wiped out by whaling fleets before regulations were created. A staggering 360،000 blue whales were killed in the 20th century in Antarctic waters alone.

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