IFAW: Modern Day Tragedy-Graphic Footage Depicts Slow, Agonizing Death
Harpooned Whale in Southern Ocean Sanctuary
Jan 6, 2006
Patrick Ramage of International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW),
CAPE COD, Mass., Jan. 6 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The full cruelty of modern-day
commercial whaling was made public today by the release of footage of
Japanese whalers hunting down a minke whale in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary
off of Antarctica. The footage, shot by Greenpeace, was given to IFAW
(International Fund for Animal Welfare -http://www.ifaw.org ) - a global
leader in the campaign to protect whales - in an effort to highlight to the
world the full scale of cruelty associated with modern-day whaling.
The footage shows Japanese whalers using a high-powered harpoon to gun the
minke whale down. The harpoon embeds in the minke's back, hooking the large
whale, but failing to kill it. The whale is then reeled in and tethered to
the side of the boat with the harpoon still embedded in it. With its head
and blowhole trapped under water, the whale struggles for nearly ten
minutes, unable to gasp for air before finally dying. IFAW experts have been
asked by Greenpeace to analyze the footage to evaluate the level of animal
cruelty inflicted on the whale.
IFAW scientist and international whale expert Vassili Papastavrou, who
analyzed the footage, said: "This is nothing short of a modern-day tragedy.
Greenpeace experts on site told us this whale took ten minutes to die, and
you can see from the footage the whale is tethered by the harpoon but does
not appear to have been hit in a vital organ. There is very little blood in
the water, for an animal of that size.
"For some time the whale is seen breathing quickly at the surface. It is
then winched up to the ship by the tail and is clearly still alive and
thrashing around. It likely died from asphyxiation because its head was kept
"This is how a whale was killed with observation boats in plain view. So
what happens when no one is watching?"
IFAW will be reviewing the full footage of this event and will prepare a
report on its findings.
Despite a global ban on commercial whaling imposed by the International
Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986, Japan is currently hunting 935 minke
whales in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. This is more than double the number
of whales it took there last year in an area the IWC and international
community has designated as a sanctuary for whales since 1994.
Japan hunts under the guise of "scientific" whaling, and in addition to
minke whales it also plans to harpoon 10 endangered fin whales over the
coming months. Over the next two years, it plans on hunting 50 endangered
humpback whales and an additional 40 fin whales.