This Week in Whales: Baby Boom for Pacific Gray Whales; Dolphin Bullying?; Norway Starts Killing Minke Whales; Taiji Has another Bad Idea

News in the world of whales this week (or close to it).

         Gray Whale (photo by NOAA)

         Minke Whale (Photo by NOAA)

  • Boo!!  Norwegian whalers have killed their first minke whales of the hunting season.  The total quota for this year’s hunt is set at 1,286, although it’s unlikely that many whales will be killed.  Norway had the same quota last year, but whalers only killed 533 animals, as they had problems selling the meat.  Unless there’s some unexpected demand for minke meat (stranger things have happened), it’s unlikely the full number will be killed.  Norway registered an objection to the International Whaling Commission’s commercial whaling moratorium in 1982 and, thus, is not bound by it.
  • Taiji, the Japanese town made infamous by the Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove, has another bright idea besides its annual slaughter of dolphins for meet that nobody wants to eat – Taiji is proposing a marine mammal park where visitors can swim and kayak with dolphins.  Hopefully not relatives of the same dolphins that will surely be sold in the park’s cafeteria….  Or maybe that will be one of the park’s gimmicks.  Just as Disneyland Resort in California sometimes offers a twofer deal (where you can buy a ticket to visit a park (Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure) one day and then return on another day to visit the other), maybe the Taiji park will have a twofer – swim with a dolphin one day and return the next to eat it.  Kazutaka Sangen, Taiji’s Mayer, explained, “We want to send out the message that the town is living together with whales.”  Seems like an awfully expensive way to get out a message.  Maybe they should just consider not killing them.  That would send a nice message too.

About the Authors

Zak Smith

Senior Attorney, Marine Mammals, Oceans Division, Nature Program

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