Whaling is the hunting of whales for their usable products such as meat and blubber, which can be turned into a type of oil which became increasingly important in the Industrial Revolution. It was practiced as an organized industry as early as 875 AD. By the 16th century, it had risen to be the principle industry in the coastal regions of Spain and France. The industry spread throughout the world, and became increasingly profitable in terms of trade and resources. Some regions of the world's oceans, along the animals' migration routes, had a particularly dense whale population, and became the targets for large concentrations of whaling ships, and the industry continued to grow well into the 20th century. The depletion of some whale species to near extinction led to the banning of whaling in many countries by 1969, and to a worldwide cessation of whaling as an industry in the late 1980s. The earliest forms of whaling date to at least circa 3000 BC. Coastal communities around the world have long histories of subsistence use of cetaceans, by dolphin drive hunting and by harvesting drift whales. Industrial whaling emerged with organized fleets of whaleships in the 17th century; competitive national whaling industries in the 18th and 19th centuries; and the introduction of factory ships along with the concept of whale harvesting in the first half of the 20th century. By the late 1930s more than 50,000 whales were killed annually. In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling because of the extreme depletion of most of the whale stocks.
Contemporary whaling is subject to intense debate. Countries that support commercial whaling, notably Iceland, Japan, and Norway, wish to lift the ban on certain whale stocks for hunting. Anti-whaling countries and environmental groups oppose lifting the ban. Under the terms of the IWC moratorium, aboriginal whaling is allowed to continue on a subsistence basis. Over the past few decades, whale watching has become a significant industry in many parts of the world; in some countries it has replaced whaling, but in a few others, the two business models exist in an uneasy tension. The live capture of cetaceans for display in aquaria (e.g. captive killer whales) continues.
Whaling began in prehistoric times in coastal waters. The earliest depictions of whaling are the Neolithic Bangudae Petroglyphs in Korea, which may date back to 6000 BC. These images are the earliest evidence for whaling. Although prehistoric hunting and gathering is generally considered to have had little ecological impact, early whaling in the Arctic may have altered freshwater ecology.
Early whaling affected the development of widely disparate cultures – such as Norway and Japan, both of which continue to hunt in the 21st century. The Basques were the first to catch whales commercially, and dominated the trade for five centuries, spreading to the far corners of the North Atlantic and even reaching the South Atlantic. The development of modern whaling techniques was spurred in the 19th century by the increase in demand for whale oil, sometimes known as "train oil", and in the 20th century by a demand for margarine and later whale meat.
The primary species hunted are minke whales, belugas, narwhals, and pilot whales. which are some of the smallest species of whales. There are also smaller numbers killed of gray whales, sei whales, fin whales, bowhead whales, Bryde's whales, sperm whales and humpback whales.
Recent scientific surveys estimate a population of 103,000 minkes in the northeast Atlantic. With respect to the populations of Antarctic minke whales, as of January 2010, the IWC states that it is "unable to provide reliable estimates at the present time" and that a "major review is underway by the Scientific Committee."
Whale oil is used little today and modern whaling is primarily done for food: for pets, fur farms, sled dogs and humans, and for making carvings of tusks, teeth and vertebrae. Both meat and blubber (muktuk) are eaten from narwhals, belugas and bowheads. From commercially hunted minkes, meat is eaten by humans or animals, and blubber is rendered down mostly to cheap industrial products such as animal feed or, in Iceland, as a fuel supplement for whaling ships.
International cooperation on whaling regulation began in 1931 and culminated in the signing of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) in 1946. Its aim is to:
provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was set up under the ICRW to decide hunting quotas and other relevant matters based on the findings of its Scientific Committee. Non-member countries are not bound by its regulations and conduct their own management programs. It regulates hunting of 13 species of great whales, and has not reached consensus on whether it may regulate smaller species.
The IWC voted on July 23, 1982, to establish a moratorium on commercial whaling of great whales beginning in the 1985–86 season. Since 1992, the IWC's Scientific Committee has requested that it be allowed to give quota proposals for some whale stocks, but this has so far been refused by the Plenary Committee.
At the 2010 meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Morocco, representatives of the 88 member states discussed whether or not to lift the 24-year ban on commercial whaling. Japan, Norway and Iceland have urged the organisation to lift the ban. A coalition of anti-whaling nations has offered a compromise plan that would allow these countries to continue whaling, but with smaller catches and under close supervision. Their plan would also completely ban whaling in the Southern Ocean. More than 200 scientists and experts have opposed the compromise proposal for lifting the ban, and have also opposed allowing whaling in the Southern Ocean, which was declared a whale sanctuary in 1994. Opponents of the compromise plan want to see an end to all commercial whaling, but are willing to allow subsistence-level catches by indigenous peoples.
The IWC database is supplemented by Faroese catches of pilot whales, Greenland's and Canada's catches of narwhals (data 1954-2014), belugas from multiple sources shown in the Beluga whale article, Indonesia's catches of sperm whales, and bycatch in Korea.
|Country||Commercial or Aboriginal||Total||Minke||Belugas||Narwhals||Pilot Whales||Gray||Sei||Fin||Bowhead||Bryde's||Sperm||Humpback||Orca|
|St. Vincent+ Grenadines||A||13||13|
Key elements of the debate over whaling include sustainability, ownership, national sovereignty, cetacean intelligence, suffering during hunting, health risks, the value of 'lethal sampling' to establish catch quotas, the value of controlling whales' impact on fish stocks and the rapidly approaching extinction of a few whale species.
The World Wide Fund for Nature says that 90% of all northern right whales killed by human activities are from ship collision, calling for restrictions on the movement of shipping in certain areas. Noise pollution threatens the existence of cetaceans. Large ships and boats make a tremendous amount of noise that falls into the same frequency range of many whales. By-catch also kills more animals than hunting. Some scientists believe pollution to be a factor. Moreover, since the IWC moratorium, there have been several instances of illegal whale hunting by IWC nations. In 1994, the IWC reported evidence from genetic testing of whale meat and blubber for sale on the open market in Japan in 1993. In addition to the legally permitted minke whale, the analyses showed that the 10–25% tissues sample came from non minke, baleen whales, neither of which were then allowed under IWC rules. Further research in 1995 and 1996 shows significant drop of non-minke baleen whales sample to 2.5%. In a separate paper, Baker stated that "many of these animals certainly represent a bycatch (incidental entrapment in fishing gear)" and stated that DNA monitoring of whale meat is required to adequately track whale products.
It was revealed in 1994 that the Soviet Union had been systematically undercounting its catch. For example, from 1948 to 1973, the Soviet Union caught 48,477 humpback whales rather than the 2,710 it officially reported to the IWC. On the basis of this new information, the IWC stated that it would have to rewrite its catch figures for the last forty years. According to Ray Gambell, then Secretary of the IWC, the organization had raised its suspicions with the former Soviet Union, but it did not take further action because it could not interfere with national sovereignty.
Whaling was a major maritime industry in Australia from 1791 until its final cessation in 1978. At least 45 whaling stations operated in Tasmania during the 19th century and bay whaling was conducted out of a number of other mainland centres. Modern whaling using harpoon guns and iron hulled catchers was conducted in the twentieth century from shore-based stations in Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, also in Norfolk Island. Overfishing saw the closure of some whaling stations before a government ban on the industry was introduced in 1978.
Canadians kill about 600 narwhals per year. They kill 100 belugas per year in the Beaufort Sea, 300 in northern Quebec (Nunavik), and an unknown number in Nunavut. The total annual kill in Beaufort and Quebec areas varies between 300 and 400 belugas per year. Numbers are not available for Nunavut since 2003, when the Arviat area, with about half Nunavut's hunters, killed 200-300 belugas, though the authors say hunters resist giving complete numbers.
Harvested meat is sold through shops and supermarkets in northern communities where whale meat is a component of the traditional diet. Hunters in Hudson's Bay rarely eat beluga meat. They give a little to dogs, and leave the rest for wild animals. Other areas may dry the meat for later consumption by humans. An average of one or two vertebrae and one or two teeth per beluga or narwhal are carved and sold. One estimate of the annual gross value received from Beluga hunts in Hudson Bay in 2013 was CA$600,000 for 190 belugas, or CA$3,000 per beluga, andCA$530,000 for 81 narwhals, or CA$6,500 per narwhal. However the net income, after subtracting costs in time and equipment, was a loss of CA$60 per person for belugas and CA$7 per person for narwhals. Hunts receive subsidies, but they continue as a tradition, rather than for the money, and the economic analysis noted that whale watching may be an alternate revenue source. Of the gross income, CA$550,000 was for Beluga skin and meat, to replace beef, pork and chickens which would otherwise be bought, CA$50,000 was received for carved vertebrae and teeth. CA$370,000 was for Narwhal skin and meat, CA$150,000 was received for tusks, and carved vertebrae and teeth of males, and CA$10,000 was received for carved vertebrae and teeth of female Narwhals.
Two Senators, members of First Nations, said in 2018,
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation says:
Canada left the IWC in 1982, and the only IWC-regulated species currently harvested by the Canadian Inuit is the bowhead whale. As of 2004, the limit on bowhead whale hunting allows for the hunt of one whale every two years from the Hudson Bay-Foxe Basin population, and one whale every 13 years from the Baffin Bay-Davis Strait population. This is roughly one-fiftieth of the bowhead whale harvest limits in Alaska (see below).
The Faroe Islands are legally part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but are geographically isolated and cultually distinct. The hunt, known as the Grindadráp, is regulated by Faroese authorities but not by the IWC, which does not claim jurisdiction over small cetaceans.
Around 800 long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melaena) are caught each year, mainly during the summer. Other species are not hunted, though occasionally Atlantic white-sided dolphin can be found among the pilot whales.
Most Faroese consider the hunt an important part of their culture and history and arguments about the topic raise strong emotions. Animal-rights groups criticize the hunt as being cruel and unnecessary and economically insignificant. Hunters claim that most journalists lack knowledge of the catch methods used to capture and kill the whales.
IWC sets limits for large whales. The government of Greenland sets limits for narwhals and belugas. There are no limits on pilot whales and porpoises.
The IWC treats the west and east coasts of Greenland as two separate population areas and sets separate quotas for each coast. The far more densely populated west coast accounts for over 90 percent of the catch. The average per year from 2012-2016 was around 150 minke and 17 fin whales and humpback whales taken from west coast waters and around 10 minke from east coast waters. In April 2009 Greenland landed its first bowhead whale in nearly forty years. It landed three bowheads each year in 2009 and 2010, one each in 2011 and 2015.
The Inuit already caught whales around Greenland since the years 1200–1300. They mastered the art of whaling around the year 1000 in the Bering Strait. The technique consists of spearing a whale with a spear connected to an inflated seal bladder. The bladder would float and exhaust the whale when diving, and when it surfaces; the Inuit hunters would spear it again, further exhausting the animal until they were able to kill it.
Vikings on Greenland also ate whale meat, but archaeologists believe they never hunted them on sea.
Being originally one of the most successful whaling nations, German whaling vessels started from Hamburg and other, smaller cities on the Elbe river, hunting for whales around Greenland and Spitsbergen. While 1770 is recorded to have been the most successful year of German whaling, German whaling went into steep decline with the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars and never really recovered. After the Napoleonic Wars, Germany tried but could never re-establish a successful whaling industry. German whaling boats in the mid to late 1800s would generally not be staffed with experienced sailors but rather with members of more wealthy farming communities, going for short trips to Scandinavia during the end of spring / beginning of summer, when their labor was not required on the fields. This kind of whaling was ineffective. Many journeys would not lead to any whales caught, instead seal- and polar bear skins were brought back to shore. Communities often paid more for equipping the vessels in the first place than making money with the goods brought back to shore. Today, local historians believe that German whaling in the late 1800s was more a rite of passage for the sons of wealthy farmers from northern German islands than an action undertaken for true commercial reason. German whaling was abandoned in 1872.
Prior to the first world war, attempts to re-establish large scale German whaling were undertaken with ships either going from Germany to Iceland or from the newly established German colonies to African waters. This attempts never were commercially successful and quickly given up. Only in the 1930s Germany could - with mainly Norwegian personnel - re-establish a large and successful whaling industry with more than 15 000 caught whales between 1930 and 1939. With the beginning of the second world war, German whaling was abandoned completely.
In the early 1950s, Germany maintained one whaling vessel for testing purpose as it considered re-establishing a German whaling fleet, but abandoned these plans in 1956. The last remaining German whalers worked for Dutch vessels in the 1950s and 1960s.
Iceland is one of a handful of countries that still maintain a whaling fleet. One company concentrates on hunting fin whales, largely for export to Japan, while the only other one hunts minke whales for domestic consumption, as the meat is popular with tourists. Iceland now has its own whale watching sector, which exists in uneasy tension with the whaling industry.
Iceland did not object to the 1986 IWC moratorium. Between 1986 and 1989 around 60 animals per year were taken under a scientific permit. However, under strong pressure from anti-whaling countries, who viewed scientific whaling as a circumvention of the moratorium, Iceland ceased whaling in 1989. Following the IWC's 1991 refusal to accept its Scientific Committee's recommendation to allow sustainable commercial whaling, Iceland left the IWC in 1992.
Iceland rejoined the IWC in 2002 with a reservation to the moratorium. Iceland presented a feasibility study to the 2003 IWC meeting for catches in 2003 and 2004. The primary aim of the study was to deepen the understanding of fish–whale interactions. Amid disagreement within the IWC Scientific Committee about the value of the research and its relevance to IWC objectives, no decision on the proposal was reached. However, under the terms of the convention the Icelandic government issued permits for a scientific catch. In 2003 Iceland resumed scientific whaling which continued in 2004 and 2005.
Iceland resumed commercial whaling in 2006. Its annual quota was 30 minke whales (out of an estimated 174,000 animals in the central and north-eastern North Atlantic) and nine fin whales (out of an estimated 30,000 animals in the central and north-eastern North Atlantic). For the 2012 commercial whaling season, starting in April and lasting six months, the quota was set to 216 minke whales, of which 52 were caught.
Lamalera, on the south coast of the island of Lembata, and Lamakera on neighbouring Solor, are the two remaining Indonesian whaling communities. The hunters obey religious taboos that ensure that they use every part of the animal. About half of the catch is kept in the village; the rest is bartered in local markets.
In 1973, the United Nations's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) sent a whaling ship and a Norwegian whaler to modernize their hunt. This effort lasted three years, and was not successful. According to the FAO report, the Lamalerans "have evolved a method of whaling which suits their natural resources, cultural tenets and style." Lamalerans say they returned the ship because they immediately caught five sperm whales, too many to butcher and eat without refrigeration. Since these communities only hunt whales for noncommercial purposes, it is categorized as 'aboriginal subsistence hunters' by International Whaling Commission (IWC).
The Lamalerans hunt for several species of whales but catching sperm whales are preferable, while other whales, such as baleen whales, are considered taboo to hunt. They caught five sperm whales in 1973, about 40 per year in the 1960s and mid 1990s, 13 total from 2002-2006, 39 in 2007, an average of 20 per year through 2014, and 3 in 2015.
Traditional Lamaleran whaling used wooden fishing boats built by a group of local craftsmen clan called ata molã and the fishermen will mourn the "death" of their ships for two months. These days, the Lamalerans use motor engine to power their boats; however, their tradition dictates that once a whale has been caught, fishermen will have to row their boats and the whale back to the shore. The traditional practices made whaling a dangerous hunt. In one case, a boat was pulled approximately 120 km away towards Timor (see Nantucket sleighride), while in another case, the hunted whale capsized the boat and forced the fishermen to swim for 12 hours back to the shore.
When the commercial whaling moratorium was introduced by the IWC in 1982, Japan lodged an official objection. However, in response to US threats to cut Japan's fishing quota in US territorial waters under the terms of the Packwood-Magnuson Amendment, Japan withdrew its objection in 1987. According to the BBC, America went back on this promise, effectively destroying the deal. Since Japan could not resume commercial whaling, it began whaling on a purported scientific-research basis. Australia, Greenpeace, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and other groups dispute the Japanese claim of research “as a disguise for commercial whaling, which is banned.” The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has attempted to disrupt Japanese whaling in the Antarctic since 2003.
The stated purpose of the research program is to establish the size and dynamics of whale populations. The Japanese government wishes to resume whaling in a sustainable manner under the oversight of the IWC, both for whale products (meat, etc.) and to help preserve fishing resources by culling whales. Anti-whaling organizations claim that the research program is a front for commercial whaling, that the sample size is needlessly large and that equivalent information can be obtained by non-lethal means, for example by studying samples of whale tissue (such as skin) or feces. The Japanese government sponsored Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), which conducts the research, disagrees, stating that the information obtainable from tissue and/or feces samples is insufficient and that the sample size is necessary in order to be representative.
Japan's scientific whaling program is controversial in anti-whaling countries. Countries opposed to whaling have passed non-binding resolutions in the IWC urging Japan to stop the program. Japan claims that whale stocks for some species are sufficiently large to sustain commercial hunting and blame filibustering by the anti-whaling side for the continuation of scientific whaling. Deputy whaling commissioner, Joji Morishita, told BBC News:
This collusive relationship between the whaling industry and the Japanese government is sometimes criticized by pro-whaling activists who support local, small-scale coastal whaling such as the Taiji dolphin drive hunt.
Norway registered an objection to the International Whaling Commission moratorium and is thus not bound by it. Commercial whaling ceased for a five-year period to allow a small scientific catch for gauging the stock's sustainability and resumed 1993. Minke whales are the only legally hunted species. Catches have fluctuated between 487 animals in 2000 to 592 in 2007. For the year 2011 the quota is set at 1286 Minke whales. The catch is made solely from the Northeast Atlantic minke whale population, which is estimated at 102,000.
Whaling in the Philippines has been illegal since 1997 since the Fisheries Administrative Order 185 of 1991 was amended. The order initially only made illegal the catching, selling, or transporting of dolphins but the 1997 ammendment widened the scope of the ban to include all Cetaceans including whales. The calls for ban on whaling and dolphin hunting in the Philippines were raised by both domestic and international groups after local whaling and dolphin hunting traditions of residents of Pamilacan in Bohol were featured in newspapers in the 1990s. As compromise for residents of Pamilacan who were dependent on whaling and dolphin hunting, whale and dolphin watching is being promoted in the island as a source of tourism income. Despite the ban, it is believed that the whaling industry in the Philippines did not cease to exist but went underground.
Russia had a significant whaling hunt of orcas and dolphins along with Iceland and Japan. The Soviet Union's harvest of over 534,000 whales between the 1960s and the 1970s has been called one of the most senseless environmental crimes of the 20th century. In 1970, a study published by Bigg M.A. following photographic recognition of orcas found a significant difference in the suspected ages of whale populations and their actual ages. Following this evidence, the Soviet Union and then Russia continued a scientific whale hunt, though the verisimilitude of the intentions of the hunt over the last 40 years are questioned.
The Soviet Union's intensive whaling from 1948 to 1972 was controlled and managed by the central government. In Soviet society, whaling was perceived to be a glamorous and well-paid job. Whalers were esteemed as well-traveled adventurers, and their return to land was often celebrated elaborately such as with fanfare and parades. In regard to economics, the Soviet Union transformed from a "rural economy into an industrial giant" by disregarding the sustainability of a resource to fill high production targets. The government had controlled all industries, including fisheries, and whaling was not constrained by the need for sustainability through profits. Managers' and workers' production was incentivized with salary bonuses of 25%-60% and various other benefits, awards, and privileges. Many industries, whaling included, became a “manic numbers game”.
Currently, Russians in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug in the Russian Far East are permitted under IWC regulation to take up to 140 gray whales from the North-East Pacific population each year. About 40 beluga whales are caught in the Sea of Okhotsk each year. There are no recent data on catches in the Arctic Ocean or Bering Sea, where about 60 belugas per year were caught in the early 1980s.
Natives of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on the island of Bequia have a quota from the International Whaling Commission of up to four humpback whales per year using traditional hunting methods and equipment.
In early July 2012, during IWC discussions in Panama, South Korea said it would undertake scientific whaling as allowed despite the global moratorium on whaling. South Korea's envoy to the summit, Kang Joon-Suk, said that consumption of whale meat "dates back to historical times" and that there had been an increase in the minke whale population since the ban took place in 1986. "Legal whaling has been strictly banned and subject to strong punishments, though the 26 years have been painful and frustrating for the people who have been traditionally taking whales for food." He said that South Korea would undertake whaling in its own waters. New Zealand's Commissioner Gerard van Bohemen accused South Korea of putting the whale population at risk. He also cited Japan as having not contributed to science for several years despite undertaking scientific whaling. New Zealand's stated position may be seen by its media as less solid than Australia's on the matter given that its indigenous people are pushing forward with plans, unopposed by the government, to recommence whaling there. The people of Ulsan have also traditionally and contemporarily eaten whale meat. South Korea's representative at the IWC said that "this is not a forum for moral debate. This is a forum for legal debate. As a responsible member of the commission we do not accept any such categorical, absolute proposition that whales should not be killed or caught."
Subsistence hunting of the bowhead whale is carried out by nine different indigenous Alaskan communities, and is managed by the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission which reports to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The hunt takes around 50 bowhead whales a year from a population of about 10,500 in Alaskan waters. Conservationists fear this hunt is not sustainable, though the IWC Scientific Committee, the same group that provided the above population estimate, projects a population growth of 3.2% per year. The hunt also took an average of one or two gray whales each year until 1996. The quota was reduced to zero in that year due to sustainability concerns. A future review may result in the gray whale hunt being resumed. Bowhead whales weigh approximately 5–10 times as much as minke whales.
The Makah tribe in Washington State also reinstated whaling in 1999, despite protests from animal rights groups. They are currently seeking to resume whaling of the gray whale, a right recognized in the Treaty of Neah Bay, within limits (Article 4 of the Treaty).
|All catches in 2003–2007 were bowhead whales.|
Baleen whales (systematic name Mysticeti), known earlier as whalebone whales, form a parvorder of the infraorder Cetacea (whales, dolphins and porpoises). They are a widely distributed and diverse parvorder of carnivorous marine mammals. Mysticeti comprise the families Balaenidae (right and bowhead whales), Balaenopteridae (rorquals), Cetotheriidae (the pygmy right whale), and Eschrichtiidae (the gray whale). There are currently 15 species of baleen whales. While cetaceans were historically thought to have descended from mesonychids, (which would place them outside the order Artiodactyla), molecular evidence supports them as a clade of even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla). Baleen whales split from toothed whales (Odontoceti) around 34 million years ago.
Baleen whales range in size from the 20 ft (6 m) and 6,600 lb (3,000 kg) pygmy right whale to the 102 ft (31 m) and 190 t (210 short tons) blue whale, the largest known animal to have ever existed. They are sexually dimorphic. Baleen whales can have streamlined or large bodies, depending on the feeding behavior, and two limbs that are modified into flippers. Though not as flexible and agile as seals, baleen whales can swim very fast, with the fastest able to travel at 23 miles per hour (37 km/h). Baleen whales use their baleen plates to filter out food from the water by either lunge-feeding or skim-feeding. Baleen whales have fused neck vertebrae, and are unable to turn their head at all. Baleen whales have two blowholes. Some species are well adapted for diving to great depths. They have a layer of fat, or blubber, under the skin to keep warm in the cold water.
Although baleen whales are widespread, most species prefer the colder waters of the Arctic and Antarctic. Gray whales are specialized for feeding on bottom-dwelling crustaceans. Rorquals are specialized at lunge-feeding, and have a streamlined body to reduce drag while accelerating. Right whales skim-feed, meaning they use their enlarged head to effectively take in a large amount of water and sieve the slow-moving prey. Males typically mate with more than one female (polygyny), although the degree of polygyny varies with the species. Male strategies for reproductive success vary between performing ritual displays (whale song) or lek mating. Calves are typically born in the winter and spring months and females bear all the responsibility for raising them. Mothers fast for a relatively long period of time over the period of migration, which varies between species. Baleen whales produce a number of vocalizations, notably the songs of the humpback whale.
The meat, blubber, baleen, and oil of baleen whales have traditionally been used by the indigenous peoples of the Arctic. Once relentlessly hunted by commercial industries for these products, cetaceans are now protected by international law. However, the North Atlantic right whale is ranked endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Besides hunting, baleen whales also face threats from marine pollution and ocean acidification. It has been speculated that man-made sonar results in strandings. They have rarely been kept in captivity, and this has only been attempted with juveniles or members of one of the smallest species.Blue whale
The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is a marine mammal belonging to the baleen whale parvorder, Mysticeti. At up to 29.9 metres (98 ft) in length and with a maximum recorded weight of 173 tonnes (190 short tons), it is the largest animal known to have ever existed.Long and slender, the blue whale's body can be various shades of bluish-grey dorsally and somewhat lighter underneath. There are at least three distinct subspecies: B. m. musculus of the North Atlantic and North Pacific, B. m. intermedia of the Southern Ocean and B. m. brevicauda (also known as the pygmy blue whale) found in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean. B. m. indica, found in the Indian Ocean, may be another subspecies. As with other baleen whales, its diet consists almost exclusively of small crustaceans known as krill.Blue whales were abundant in nearly all the oceans on Earth until the beginning of the twentieth century. For over a century, they were hunted almost to extinction by whalers until protected by the international community in 1966. A 2002 report estimated there were 5,000 to 12,000 blue whales worldwide, in at least five groups. The IUCN estimates that there are probably between 10,000 and 25,000 blue whales worldwide today. Before whaling, the largest population was in the Antarctic, numbering approximately 239,000 (range 202,000 to 311,000). There remain only much smaller (around 2,000) concentrations in each of the eastern North Pacific, Antarctic, and Indian Ocean groups. There are two more groups in the North Atlantic, and at least two in the Southern Hemisphere. The Eastern North Pacific blue whale population had rebounded by 2014 to nearly its pre-hunting population.Fin whale
The fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), also known as finback whale or common rorqual and formerly known as herring whale or razorback whale, is a marine mammal belonging to the parvorder of baleen whales. It is the second-largest species on Earth after the blue whale. The largest reportedly grow to 27.3 m (89.6 ft) long with a maximum confirmed length of 25.9 m (85 ft), a maximum recorded weight of nearly 74 tonnes (73 long tons; 82 short tons), and a maximum estimated weight of around 114 tonnes (112 long tons; 126 short tons). American naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews called the fin whale "the greyhound of the sea ... for its beautiful, slender body is built like a racing yacht and the animal can surpass the speed of the fastest ocean steamship."The fin whale's body is long and slender, coloured brownish-grey with a paler underside. The fin whale is a large baleen whale that belongs to the Cetacean order, which includes all species of whale, dolphin, and porpoise. At least two recognized subspecies exist, in the North Atlantic and the Southern Hemisphere. It is found in all the major oceans, from polar to tropical waters. It is absent only from waters close to the ice pack at the poles and relatively small areas of water away from the open ocean. The highest population density occurs in temperate and cool waters. Its food consists of small schooling fish, squid, and crustaceans including copepods and krill.
Like all other large whales, the fin whale was heavily hunted during the 20th century. As a result, it is an endangered species. Over 725,000 fin whales were reportedly taken from the Southern Hemisphere between 1905 and 1976; as of 1997 only 38,000 survived. Recovery of the overall population size of southern species is predicted to be at less than 50% of its pre-whaling state by 2100 due to heavier impacts of whaling and slower recovery rates.The International Whaling Commission (IWC) issued a moratorium on commercial hunting of this whale, although Iceland and Japan have resumed hunting. The species is also hunted by Greenlanders under the IWC's Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling provisions. Global population estimates range from less than 100,000 to roughly 119,000.Harpoon
A harpoon is a long spear-like instrument used in fishing, whaling, sealing, and other marine hunting to catch large fish or marine mammals such as whales. It accomplishes this task by impaling the target animal and securing it with barb or toggling claws, allowing the fishermen to use a rope or chain attached to the butt of the projectile to catch the animal. A harpoon can also be used as a weapon.History of whaling
This article discusses the history of whaling from prehistoric times up to the commencement of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986.Hvalur 9 RE399
Hvalur 9 RE399 is an Icelandic whaling ship built in 1952 in Norway. It has been a part of the Icelandic whaling fleet operated and owned by the company Hvalur HF since 1966.
In 1973 she was requisitioned by the Icelandic Coast Guard, repainted, renamed Týr and armed with a 57 mm gun and subsequently used to cut the fishing gear from foreign fishing vessels fishing illegally (according to Icelandic law) in a newly claimed fishery zone during the Second Cod War. During her service in the Coast Guard she was usually nicknamed Hval-Týr to differentiate from previously commissioned patrol vessels of the same name.
Between 1987 and 2006, while commercial whaling ceased in Iceland, the ship remained unused at pier but the recommencement of whaling in Iceland brought it back into action.Imbituba
Imbituba is a port and coastal town in the southern Brazil state of Santa Catarina. It has a population of around 39,000. It is also home to a population of Portuguese, Italian, and German descent, and it is about one hour drive from Florianopolis, the capital of Santa Catarina.International Whaling Commission
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is an international body set up by the terms of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), which was signed in Washington, D.C., United States, on December 2, 1946 to "provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry".In 1982 the IWC adopted a moratorium on commercial whaling. Currently, Japan, Russia, and a number of other nations oppose this moratorium. The IWC allows non-zero whaling quotas for aboriginal subsistence and also member nations may issue 'Scientific Permits' to their citizens. Japan has issued such permits since 1986, Norway and Iceland whale under objection to the moratorium and issue their own quotas. In 1994, the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary was created by the IWC.The main duty of the IWC is to keep under review and revise as necessary the measures laid down in the Schedule to the Convention which govern the conduct of whaling throughout the world. These measures, among other things, provide for the complete protection of certain species; designate specified areas as whale sanctuaries; set limits on the numbers and size of whales which may be taken; prescribe open and closed seasons and areas for whaling; and prohibit the capture of suckling calves and female whales accompanied by calves. The compilation of catch reports and other statistical and biological records is also required.In addition, the Commission encourages, co-ordinates and funds whale research, publishes the results of scientific research and promotes studies into related matters such as the humaneness of the killing operations.On 13 September 2018, IWC members gathered in Florianopolis, Brazil, where they discussed and rejected a proposal by Japan to renew commercial whaling. Through the "Florianopolis Declaration", it was concluded that the purpose of the IWC is the conservation of whales and that they would now safeguard the marine mammals in perpetuity and would allow the recovery of all whale populations to pre-industrial whaling levels. In response, Japan announced on 26 December 2018, that since the IWC failed its duty to promote sustainable hunting, which is one of its stated goals, Japan is withdrawing its membership and will resume commercial hunting in its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone from July 2019, but will cease whaling activities in the Southern Hemisphere.MY Bob Barker
The MY Bob Barker is a ship owned and operated by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, named after American television game show host and animal rights activist Bob Barker, whose donation of $5 million to the society facilitated the purchase of the ship. She first started operating for the group in late 2009 / early 2010 in its campaign against whaling by Japanese fisheries. In October 2010, Sea Shepherd stated that Bob Barker had completed a major refit in Hobart, Tasmania. Hobart is now the ship's honorary home port.Marine conservation activism
Marine Conservation Activism refers to the efforts of non-governmental organizations and individuals to bring about social and political change in the area of marine conservation. Marine conservation is properly conceived as a set of management strategies for the protection and preservation of ecosystems in oceans and seas. Activists raise public awareness and support for conservation, while pushing governments and corporations to practice sound ocean management, create conservation policy, and enforce existing laws and policy through effective regulation. There are many different kinds of organizations and agencies that work toward these common goals. They all are a part of the growing movement that is ocean conservation. These organizations fight for many causes including stopping pollution, overfishing, whaling, by-catching, and Marine Protected Areas.Moby-Dick
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is an 1851 novel by American writer Herman Melville. The book is sailor Ishmael's narrative of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaling ship Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, the white whale that on the ship's previous voyage bit off Ahab's leg at the knee. A contribution to the literature of the American Renaissance, the work's genre classifications range from late Romantic to early Symbolist. Moby-Dick was published to mixed reviews, was a commercial failure, and was out of print at the time of the author's death in 1891. Its reputation as a "Great American Novel" was established only in the 20th century, after the centennial of its author's birth. William Faulkner confessed he wished he had written the book himself, and D. H. Lawrence called it "one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world" and "the greatest book of the sea ever written". Its opening sentence, "Call me Ishmael", is among world literature's most famous.Melville began writing Moby-Dick in February 1850, and would eventually take 18 months to write the book, a full year more than he had first anticipated. Writing was interrupted by his making the acquaintance of Nathaniel Hawthorne in August 1850, and by the creation of the "Mosses from an Old Manse" essay as a first result of that friendship. The book is dedicated to Hawthorne, "in token of my admiration for his genius".
The basis for the work is Melville's 1841 whaling voyage aboard the Acushnet. The novel also draws on whaling literature, and on literary inspirations such as Shakespeare and the Bible. The white whale is modeled on the notoriously hard-to-catch albino whale Mocha Dick, and the book's ending is based on the sinking of the whaleship Essex in 1820. The detailed and realistic descriptions of whale hunting and of extracting whale oil, as well as life aboard ship among a culturally diverse crew, are mixed with exploration of class and social status, good and evil, and the existence of God. In addition to narrative prose, Melville uses styles and literary devices ranging from songs, poetry, and catalogs to Shakespearean stage directions, soliloquies, and asides.
In October 1851, the chapter "The Town Ho's Story" was published in Harper's New Monthly Magazine. The same month, the whole book was first published (in three volumes) as The Whale in London, and under its definitive title in a single-volume edition in New York in November. There are hundreds of differences between the two editions, most slight but some important and illuminating. The London publisher, Richard Bentley, censored or changed sensitive passages; Melville made revisions as well, including a last-minute change to the title for the New York edition. The whale, however, appears in the text of both editions as "Moby Dick", without the hyphen. One factor that led British reviewers to scorn the book was that it seemed to be told by a narrator who perished with the ship: the British edition lacked the Epilogue, which recounts Ishmael's survival. About 3,200 copies were sold during the author's life.New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park (NBWNHP) is a United States National Historical Park in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and is maintained by the National Park Service (NPS). The park commemorates the heritage of the world's preeminent whaling port during the nineteenth century.
Established in 1996, the park encompasses 34 acres (fourteen hectares) dispersed over thirteen city blocks. It includes a visitor center, the New Bedford National Historic Landmark District, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the Seamen's Bethel, the schooner Ernestina, and the Rotch–Jones–Duff House and Garden Museum.
As a National Park, the NBWNHP is rather unusual in that the only properties owned by the NPS are the Visitor Center and the Corson Maritime Learning Center. Rather, the park is a historic district administered under a partnership between the NPS, the City of New Bedford and private building owners to preserve the historic landscapes, structures, and collections and promote research and educational programming associated with the history of whaling. The enabling legislation also established a formal affiliation with the Inupiat Heritage Center in Utqiagvik, Alaska, to commemorate the more than 2,000 whaling voyages from New Bedford to the Western Arctic. The city promotes visitation to the park through advertising that calls it "New England's real seaport", as opposed to Connecticut's Mystic Seaport Museum which is a collection of historic buildings and vessels moved from various other locations throughout the region.
Although the famed Whaleman Memorial (commonly called the "Whaleman's Statue") is not within the park's boundaries, it is located only two blocks beyond its western boundary at the corner of William and Pleasant Streets in front of the New Bedford Public Library.Red Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador
Red Bay is a fishing village in Labrador, notable as one of the most precious underwater archaeological sites in the Americas. Between 1530 and the early 17th century, it was a major Basque whaling area. Several whaling ships, both large galleons and small chalupas, sunk there, and their discovery led to the designation of Red Bay in 2013 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is a self-described non-profit, marine conservation organization based in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, Washington, in the United States.The tactics of Sea Shepherd have been opposed, even by some who denounce whaling, such as Greenpeace and some officials in the governments of Australia and New Zealand. Paul Watson and American members of Sea Shepherd are currently prohibited by US courts from approaching or harassing Japanese whalers, even if they are observed acting in defiance of international law, i.e., by killing whales in protected waters.The Japanese government, whose whaling industry is a leading target of the organization's efforts, have called Sea Shepherd eco-terrorists for impeding their research. However, in March 2014 the International Court of Justice ruled the Japanese whaling program in the Southern Ocean was not, as claimed, for scientific purposes, and ordered Japan to cease operations.In 2017, Sea Shepard Conservation Society indicated it was abandoning pursuit of Japanese whalers. According to Captain Paul Watson, “hostile governments” in the US, Australia and New Zealand were acting at the time “in league with Japan” against a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society protest vessel. According to Watson, the cost of sending vessels to the region, Japan’s increased use of military technology to track them, and new anti-terrorism laws passed specifically to thwart Sea Shepherd’s activities made physically tracking the ships impossible."Sperm whale
The sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) or cachalot is the largest of the toothed whales and the largest toothed predator. It is the only living member of genus Physeter and one of three extant species in the sperm whale family, along with the pygmy sperm whale and dwarf sperm whale of the genus Kogia.
The sperm whale is a pelagic mammal with a worldwide range, and will migrate seasonally for feeding and breeding. Females and young males live together in groups, while mature males (bulls) live solitary lives outside of the mating season. The females cooperate to protect and nurse their young. Females give birth every four to twenty years, and care for the calves for more than a decade. A mature sperm whale has few natural predators, although calves and weakened adults are sometimes killed by pods of orcas (killer whales).
Mature males average 16 metres (52 ft) in length but some may reach 20.5 metres (67 ft), with the head representing up to one-third of the animal's length. Plunging to 2,250 metres (7,382 ft), it is the second deepest diving mammal, following only the Cuvier's beaked whale.The sperm whale uses echolocation and vocalization as loud as 230 decibels (re 1 µPa at 1 m) underwater. It has the largest brain on Earth, more than five times heavier than a human's. Sperm whales can live for more than 60 years.Spermaceti (sperm oil), from which the whale derives its name, was a prime target of the whaling industry, and was sought after for use in oil lamps, lubricants, and candles. Ambergris, a solid waxy waste product sometimes present in its digestive system, is still highly valued as a fixative in perfumes, among other uses. Beachcombers look out for ambergris as flotsam. Sperm whaling was a major industry in the nineteenth century, immortalised in the novel Moby Dick. The species is protected by the International Whaling Commission moratorium, and is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.Whale
Whales are a widely distributed and diverse group of fully aquatic placental marine mammals. They are an informal grouping within the infraorder Cetacea, usually excluding dolphins and porpoises. Whales, dolphins and porpoises belong to the order Cetartiodactyla with even-toed ungulates and their closest living relatives are the hippopotamuses, having diverged about 40 million years ago. The two parvorders of whales, baleen whales (Mysticeti) and toothed whales (Odontoceti), are thought to have split apart around 34 million years ago. The whales comprise eight extant families: Balaenopteridae (the rorquals), Balaenidae (right whales), Cetotheriidae (the pygmy right whale), Eschrichtiidae (the grey whale), Monodontidae (belugas and narwhals), Physeteridae (the sperm whale), Kogiidae (the dwarf and pygmy sperm whale), and Ziphiidae (the beaked whales).
Whales are creatures of the open ocean; they feed, mate, give birth, suckle and raise their young at sea. So extreme is their adaptation to life underwater that they are unable to survive on land. Whales range in size from the 2.6 metres (8.5 ft) and 135 kilograms (298 lb) dwarf sperm whale to the 29.9 metres (98 ft) and 190 metric tons (210 short tons) blue whale, which is the largest creature that has ever lived. The sperm whale is the largest toothed predator on earth. Several species exhibit sexual dimorphism, in that the females are larger than males. Baleen whales have no teeth; instead they have plates of baleen, a fringe-like structure used to expel water while retaining the krill and plankton which they feed on. They use their throat pleats to expand the mouth to take in huge gulps of water. Balaenids have heads that can make up 40% of their body mass to take in water. Toothed whales, on the other hand, have conical teeth adapted to catching fish or squid. Baleen whales have a well developed sense of "smell", whereas toothed whales have well-developed hearing − their hearing, that is adapted for both air and water, is so well developed that some can survive even if they are blind. Some species, such as sperm whales, are well adapted for diving to great depths to catch squid and other favoured prey.
Whales have evolved from land-living mammals. As such whales must breathe air regularly, although they can remain submerged under water for long periods of time. Some species such as the sperm whale are able to stay submerged for as much as 90 minutes. They have blowholes (modified nostrils) located on top of their heads, through which air is taken in and expelled. They are warm-blooded, and have a layer of fat, or blubber, under the skin. With streamlined fusiform bodies and two limbs that are modified into flippers, whales can travel at up to 20 knots, though they are not as flexible or agile as seals. Whales produce a great variety of vocalizations, notably the extended songs of the humpback whale. Although whales are widespread, most species prefer the colder waters of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and migrate to the equator to give birth. Species such as humpbacks and blue whales are capable of travelling thousands of miles without feeding. Males typically mate with multiple females every year, but females only mate every two to three years. Calves are typically born in the spring and summer months and females bear all the responsibility for raising them. Mothers of some species fast and nurse their young for one to two years.
Once relentlessly hunted for their products, whales are now protected by international law. The North Atlantic right whales nearly became extinct in the twentieth century, with a population low of 450, and the North Pacific grey whale population is ranked Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Besides whaling, they also face threats from bycatch and marine pollution. The meat, blubber and baleen of whales have traditionally been used by indigenous peoples of the Arctic. Whales have been depicted in various cultures worldwide, notably by the Inuit and the coastal peoples of Vietnam and Ghana, who sometimes hold whale funerals. Whales occasionally feature in literature and film, as in the great white whale of Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Small whales, such as belugas, are sometimes kept in captivity and trained to perform tricks, but breeding success has been poor and the animals often die within a few months of capture. Whale watching has become a form of tourism around the world.Whaler
A whaler or whaling ship is a specialized ship, designed, or adapted, for whaling: the catching or processing of whales. The former includes the whale catcher – a steam or diesel-driven vessel with a harpoon gun mounted at its bow. The latter includes such vessels as the sail or steam-driven whaleship of the 16th to early 20th centuries and the floating factory or factory ship of the modern era. There have also been vessels which combined the two activities, such as the bottlenose whalers of the late 19th and early 20th century, and catcher/factory ships of the modern era.
Whaleships had two or more whaleboats, open rowing boats used in the capture of whales. Whaleboats brought the captured whales to the whaleships to be flensed or cut up. Here the blubber was rendered into oil using two or three try-pots set in a brick furnace called the tryworks.
At first, whale catchers either brought the whales they killed to a whaling station, or factory ship anchored in a sheltered bay or inlet. With the later development of the slipway at the ship's stern, whale catchers were able to transfer their catch to factory ships operating in the open sea.
The World War II Flower-class corvettes were based on the design of the whale catcher Southern Pride.Whaling in Japan
Japanese whaling, in terms of active hunting of these large mammals, is estimated by the Japan Whaling Association to have begun around the 12th century. However, Japanese whaling on an industrial scale began around the 1890s when Japan began to participate in the modern whaling industry, at that time an industry in which many countries participated. Japanese whaling activities have historically extended far outside Japanese territorial waters, even into whale sanctuaries protected by other countries.During the 20th century, Japan was heavily involved in commercial whaling. This continued until the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium on commercial whaling went into effect in 1986. Japan continued to hunt whales using the scientific research provision in the agreement, and Japanese whaling is currently conducted by the Institute of Cetacean Research. This was allowed under IWC rules, although most IWC members oppose it. However, in March 2014 the UN's International Court of Justice ruled that the Japanese whaling program, called "JARPA II", in the Southern Ocean, including inside the Australian Whale Sanctuary, was not in accordance with the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, and was not for scientific purposes, as it had claimed. They ordered Japan to cease operations. Despite the court order, Prime Minister Abe quickly called for the resumption of whaling operations. In December 2015, Japan went ahead with their whaling program, renamed "NEWREP-A". On January 15, 2017, a helicopter in the Australian Whale Sanctuary photographed the Japanese whaling vessel Nisshin Maru with a freshly-killed minke whale on its deck. Crew members quickly covered the carcass after seeing the helicopter. Their objective is to hunt 3,000 Antarctic minke whales over 10 years, starting with 330 whales during the 2015–16 season. Antarctic minke whale have experienced an apparent decline in population, though the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) indicates that it lacks sufficient data to confer a "threatened" designation on the species of minke whale. In December 2018, Japan announced that it will resume commercial whale hunts in July 2019 within its territorial waters and commercial zones.
These hunts are a source of conflict between pro- and anti-whaling countries and organizations. The UN's International Court of Justice, in addition to other countries, scientists, and environmental organizations consider the Japanese research program to be unnecessary and lacking scientific merit, and describe it as a thinly disguised commercial whaling operation. Japan maintains that annual whaling is sustainable and necessary for scientific study and management of whale stocks, though the Antarctic minke whale populations have declined since the beginning of the JARPA program and those whales killed have shown increasing signs of stress. Japan, echoing Norway's arguments on its own whaling activities, also argues it is entitled to continue whaling because of whaling's place in its cultural heritage. The whale meat from these hunts is sold in shops and restaurants, and is showcased at an annual food festival that, in some cases, features the butchering of a whale for onlookers. A poll in 2014 found that few Japanese people today eat whale meat regularly, and tourists are often reluctant to try it on ethical grounds.Whaling in Norway
Whaling in Norway involves subsidized hunting of minke whales for use as animal and human food in Norway and for export to Japan. Whale hunting has been a part of Norwegian coastal culture for centuries, and commercial operations targeting the minke whale have occurred since the early 20th century. Some still continue the practice in the modern day.
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