Endangered Blue Whale Illegally Slain by Icelandic Whaling Company

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

11 July 2018

Sea Shepherd volunteers monitoring the Hvalur hf whaling station in Hvalfjordur Iceland have documented the slaughter of an endangered Blue whale on the night of July 7th, the 22nd endangered whale killed and butchered for export to Japan by Kristján Loftsson’s commercial whaling company since June 20th, 2018.

Although the first 21 whales killed were endangered Fin whales – which the Icelandic government has permitted Loftsson’s company to slaughter despite an international moratorium on whaling and the endangered status of the Fin whale – they do not have any legal authority to kill endangered Blue whales, even within Iceland.

No other nation – not even Japan nor Norway -- slaughters Fin whales, and there has not been a Blue whale harpooned by anyone for the last fifty years until this one harpooned by Hvalur 8.

Loftsson’s whaling station crew posed for photos next to and even on top of the whale in a sign they knew very well this was a rare Blue whale. Then Loftsson ordered his crew to butcher the whale just like it was another Fin whale – the meat, skin, blubber and bone all now mixed in with the Fin whales previously caught, which will make it difficult or impossible to locate during potential inspections by the authorities.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has outlawed all commercial whaling activities. Blue whales and Fin whales are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Photographs and video taken by the Sea Shepherd UK team on the ground near the whaling station make it possible to examine the species identifying indicators of skin colour/pattern, baleen colour, dorsal fin shape, and tail stock. According to several scientific experts specializing in whale identification contacted by Sea Shepherd, the whale is without question a Blue whale.

"While I can't entirely rule out the possibility that this is a hybrid, I don't see any characteristics that would suggest that. From the photos, it has all the characteristics of a blue whale; given that - notably the coloration pattern - there is almost no possibility that an experienced observer would have misidentified it as anything else at sea" - Dr Phillip Clapham, NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Centre.

Sea Shepherd Founder Captain Paul Watson is appealing to Icelandic authorities to stop these crimes against conservation by Kristján Loftsson. “This man must be stopped from ruthlessly violating international conservation law and bringing such disrepute to the nation of Iceland. There can be no legal justification for this crime.”

Captain Paul Watson has spent over a half a century defending whales. After viewing the photos and video taken by his team in Iceland, he said, “I have viewed plenty of Blue whales on the surface, dived with them beneath the surface in West Australia, off the coast of California, in the Southern Ocean and in the waters off Newfoundland. I know a Blue whale when I see one and this whale slaughtered by Kristján Loftsson is a Blue whale.”

Sea Shepherd UK’s Chief Operating officer Robert Read stated, “The crime committed against this iconic whale must be fully investigated by independent inspectors with DNA samples taken from all the whale meat and parts in storage at Loftsson’s whaling station and warehouses since the whale has been butchered and removed from view potentially to hide the evidence as Loftsson has no authority (even within Iceland) to kill a Blue whale. In addition, environmental DNA samples should be taken from whaling station equipment, surfaces and containers to look for Blue whale DNA in case the butchered parts have been removed to hide this latest atrocity.

Sea Shepherd has had crew on the ground since the slaughter of Fin whales began on June 20th. Their aim is that every whale will be documented for the entire Fin whaling season.

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Hi-Res Press Images and footage reel: https://minerva.seashepherdglobal.org/share.cgi?ssid=0ymnIks

Image captions (credit Sea Shepherd):

(1) The Hvalur 8 bringing in a Fin whale (right) and a Blue whale (left).

(2) Fin whale (right) and Blue whale (left) being prepared to be hauled up to the cutting area.

(3) Kristján Loftsson viewing the Blue whale.

(4) Blue whale with Fin verification.

(5) Blue whale awaiting slaughter.

(6) Japanese inspector and crew taking pictures of the Blue whale.

(7) Nothing wasted but the whale itself – No. 22, an illegally slaughter Blue whale.

(8) Taking photos at the head of the Blue whale.

For further information, additional images and interview requests contact:

Robert Read, COO at Sea Shepherd UK
Email: media@seashepherduk.org
Tel: +354 623 4748 or +44 300 111 050

Heather Stimmler, Sea Shepherd Global Media Director
E-mail: media@seashepherdglobal.org Tel: +339 7719 7742

Sea Shepherd Global

Sea Shepherd is an international non-profit marine conservation movement using innovative tactics and direct action to defend, conserve and protect the worlds oceans and marine wildlife. Founded by Paul Watson in 1977, today Sea Shepherd is a worldwide movement with independent national and regional entities in over 20 countries, united by a common mission and a fleet of eleven ships on campaigns around the world. Sea Shepherd investigates and documents violations of international and national conservation law, and enforces conservation measures where legal authority exists. For more information, visit: http://www.seashepherdglobal.org/

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About Us

SEA SHEPHERD GLOBAL Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately-balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations. A selection of press images are available on our Media Site (high-res images and a videos without watermarks available to qualified press on request): http://media.seashepherdglobal.org/

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