The Hvalur hf company reportedly killed a blue whale in Hvalfjordur, Iceland, on July 7, 2018. © Sea Shepherd The Hvalur hf company reportedly killed a blue whale in Hvalfjordur, Iceland, on July 7, 2018.

山东十一选五预测 www.3ly15.cn One of Iceland's richest men has hit back against claims his whaling company illegally killed a protected blue whale.

"We have never caught a blue whale in our waters since they were protected," Kristján Loftsson, managing director of Hvalur hf, told CNN. "We see them in the ocean. When you approach a blue whale, it's so distinct that you leave it alone."

Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd claimed Wednesday that Loftsson's company had killed and butchered a blue whale in Hvalfjordur, Iceland. Volunteers monitoring the whaling site photographed orange-clad crews examining the massive carcass.

The largest animals in existence, blue whales are a protected species and have not been deliberately captured since 1978, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Loftsson claimed that the whale in question was either a fin whale, or a hybrid species, not protected under Icelandic law. He said if it was a blue whale the kill was purely accidental.

The difference between these and blue wales is "easy to see," Loftsson said.

Conservationists disagreed however. Adam A. Pack, researcher and professor of biology at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, said the photos appeared to show a blue whale.

Kristjan Loftsson, Icelandic fishing magnate, has argued most people in the country support whaling. © Bloomberg/Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images Kristjan Loftsson, Icelandic fishing magnate, has argued most people in the country support whaling.

"(Look at) the way the dorsal fin is hooked, the pointed pectoral fins, and the size of the animal," he said.

Pack also noted the lack of a white lip, characteristic in fin whales, and the mottling on the whale's flank, an identifier that acts like fingerprints, as more evidence the animal in question was likely a blue whale.

Authorities in Iceland will now conduct genetic testing to determine the whale's species, which may take months to complete.

In a statement, the government said the "matter was (being) taken seriously by the government and the relevant authorities are investigating this issue."

Initial information "suggests the animal caught is not likely to be a blue whale but rather a hybrid of a fin whale and a blue whale," it added. 

Hunted to near extinction

Sea Shepherd's photos sparked instant outrage within the conservation community.

While the fight against whaling is not a new one, this case has attracted greater attention and outrage due to the blue whale's rarity and protected status.

A blue whale at the Hvalur hf whaling station in Hvalfjordur, Iceland. © Sea Shepherd A blue whale at the Hvalur hf whaling station in Hvalfjordur, Iceland.

Reaching 30 meters long and weighing up to 200 tonnes, blue whales have been protected worldwide by the International Whaling Commission since the 1960s, after decades of what Pack calls "unchecked exploitation."

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

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, before the IWC effectively banned commercial whaling in 1986.

Iceland regularly continues to hunt on its own terms, despite being a member of the IWC. The hunt of blue whales, however, is illegal.

"It is important to note that blue whales are protected under Icelandic law with their capture prohibited," said Stefán ásmundsson, Commissioner of Iceland to the IWC, in a statement. "Iceland has always emphasized the need for careful conservation of marine resources and was one of the first countries in the world to take a conservationist approach to whaling."

An uncertain future

Despite the intense criticism Loftsson has faced -- he has been dubbed a "rogue whaler" by some conservationist groups -- he claimed most Icelanders supported whaling.

"We are a big fishing nation, we are a nation of the ocean," he said. "You have deer hunting in the US. It's the same."

He claimed that sustainability was not an issue so long as whalers stick to regulations and quotas. "Why would we want to catch and catch and make it extinct? We would be cutting our economic soul," he added.

A blue whale can reach up to 30 meters long and weigh up to 200 tonnes. © NOAA Photo Library A blue whale can reach up to 30 meters long and weigh up to 200 tonnes.

Regulations may have staved off extinction, but blue whales are still a long way from recovery, with an estimated worldwide population of 10,000 to 25,000. Companies also continue to hunt other whale species.

"The IWC is only as good as the nations who have subscribed to it," Pack said. "There are nations like Japan that hunt minke whales despite pressures from the US and other countries."

Japan recently faced its own whaling controversy when an IWC report revealed that the country had killed 122 pregnant minke whales in the name of scientific research over a three month period.

"From a research perspective, everything we need to learn about these whales can be taken from a non-lethal approach at this point," said Pack. "We're now in 2018. There is no reason to be hunting any cetaceans, including whales."

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that it has been 40 years since the last blue whale was deliberately caught, according to the IUCN.

Feedback

Found the story interesting?

Like us on Facebook to see similar stories


Send MSN Feedback

We appreciate your input!

Please give an overall site rating:

  • 世界杯来了 电影大片也来了!《侏罗纪世界2》主打视觉冒险 2018-12-12
  • 天天萌萌哒!识时务的猫星人 2018-12-12
  • 商务部初步裁定美国进口氢碘酸、乙醇胺存在倾销 2018-12-11
  • 农民回答风水神,“勤劳的农民玩什么没有富起来”。(原创首发) 2018-12-11
  • 2017年媒体新技术发展与应用综述 2018-12-10
  • 姜片-热门标签-华商生活 2018-12-09
  • 习近平山东考察,这几个关键词值得深思 2018-12-08
  • 网络文学专项整治 400余家违法违规网站被关闭 2018-12-07
  • 《同学两亿岁》剧情高能 昌隆感情走向成谜 2018-12-06
  • 风雨兼程,与党和人民同行 2018-12-06
  • 2017安徽省政务微信十强排行榜发布 2018-12-05
  • 走近上合志愿者 “小浪花”为峰会增添一抹靓色 2018-12-04
  • 贡嘎的辉煌文章中国国家地理网 2018-12-03
  • “百名红通”归案过半,丧钟再敲响 2018-12-03
  • 中国国际智能产业博览会LOGO征集选用公告 2018-12-02
  • 165| 933| 256| 518| 465| 141| 741| 562| 834| 496|