wild places | wild happenings | wild news
make a difference for our wild places

home | links | search the site
  all articles latest | past | articles by topics | search wildnews
wild news on wildsingapore
  PlanetArk 12 Oct 07
Greenpeace Tracks Whales as Japan Prepares to Hunt
Story by Michael Perry

Yahoo News 10 Oct 07
Greenpeace to monitor endangered whales

Greenpeace announced a satellite-based tracking system to monitor endangered South Pacific humpback whales Wednesday, saying it is not necessary to kill the animals as Japan does to study them.

The conservation group used the announcement of its humpback monitoring project to lambast Japan's scientific whaling program that has killed thousands of whales as part of what it calls necessary research.

Humpback whales from Rarotonga and New Caledonia have been satellite tagged and are "now being tracked in order to produce vital data on their movements, habitat use and population structure," said Greenpeace New Zealand's oceans campaigner, Mike Hagler.

"The tagging program is producing real scientific results" on whale migrations from breeding grounds in the South Pacific to feeding grounds of the Southern Ocean "without firing a single harpoon," he said.

"The Great Whale Trail non-lethal tracking program is intended to show that whales don't need to die for science," he added.

"Over the last 20 years of Japanese 'scientific research,' thousands of whales have been killed, yet the quality and relevance of the scientific data (produced) ... is remarkably low," Hagler said.

He said Japan plans to hunt up to 50 humpback whales, 50 fin whales and 935 minke whales in Antarctic waters this year as part of its scientific whaling program.

This is the first time Japan has included humpback and fin whale species in its annual whale hunt, under an International Whaling Commission-allowed scientific program.

Many environmental groups object to the annual whale kill, but Japan argues the program is needed to gauge whale populations and study their breeding and feeding habits.

Much of the whale meat ends up being sold as a delicacy and used in Japan's school lunch program.

Japan's whaling fleet is expected to sail for the southern ocean some time next month.

Japan's Fisheries Agency official Hideki Moronuki said that the method Greenpeace is promoting is not enough to collect the necessary information.

"You can't tell, with a satellite, if a whale is male or female, how old it is, if it is pregnant, or what it eats. There are too many things you can't tell," he said. "To say you can tell everything from a satellite is a 100 percent sham."

Moronuki says Japan combines both lethal and non-lethal methods and "it is best to do both," adding Tokyo has no immediate plans to change its current research methods.

Hagler said Greenpeace fears that humpback whales "from small, threatened populations" in the South Pacific where many nations have whale-watching industries, "could be among those killed by the Japanese fleet."

Last year's southern ocean whale hunt by Japan ended early after Japan's whaling fleet factory ship, Nisshin Maru, was crippled by fire and one crew member killed.

On the Net: http://www.greenpeace.org.nz/whale-trail

PlanetArk 12 Oct 07
Greenpeace Tracks Whales as Japan Prepares to Hunt
Story by Michael Perry

SYDNEY - Environmental group Greenpeace is satellite tracking 19 humpback whales as they travel from the South Pacific back to Antarctic waters this whaling season, to prove Japan does not need to kill whales to study them.

Greenpeace said the tracking would gather data on the humpbacks' movements, habitat use and population structure, and allow people to monitor individual whales on a Web site.

The position of the whales will be a delayed broadcast to prevent Japanese whalers locating the slow moving humpbacks, which have been tagged with transmitters.

"We are collecting skin samples to sequence DNA of every whale that we encounter. We don't have to kill the whales to do this," Greenpeace whale researcher Nan Hauser said in a statement. "We do not have to kill the whales for any of the research we are doing. We do not even have to hurt them."

Japan plans for the first time to hunt 50 humpback whales in the Antarctic over the coming southern hemisphere summer. Japan also plans to hunt 935 minke whales for scientific research.

The Japanese whaling fleet, hampered by a fire on the factory processing ship Nisshin Maru last February that killed one crewman, has been bolstered by an additional new chaser vessel for the upcoming hunt.

Critics say most of the whale meat ends up in Japanese supermarkets and restaurants and that Japan rarely publishes its scientific findings.

Greenpeace plans to again send an anti-whaling protest ship into the Southern Ocean to try and stop the whaling.


Greenpeace's "Great Whale Trail" project will monitor the humpbacks as they travel from South Pacific breeding grounds to feeding grounds in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

The humpbacks have been tagged by the Cook Islands Whale Research and Operation Cetaces in New Caledonia.

A viewer can click on each whale's icon to access a profile, which includes its name, a photograph, whether it has a calf, and its latitude and longitude. Some whales have yet to be named.

The whale tracking website is: www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/oceans/whaling/great-


Greenpeace said Japan's hunt was also endangering whale watching tourism operations in poor island nations such as Tonga.

"Pacific Island countries have developed whale watching into a multi-million dollar industry," said Nilesh Goundar, Greenpeace Australia Pacific's Oceans Team Leader.

"The Japanese government's whaling programme is jeopardising the economies of whale-watching nations."

Humpback whales are noted for the complex songs sung by males and for their acrobatic behaviour, making them popular with whale-watching tourists.

Their numbers have recovered somewhat and are estimated at between 30,000 and 60,000. This is still only about a third of pre-whaling levels and the species continues to be classified as vulnerable.

Related articles on dolphins, whales, other cetaceans and large fishes.
about the site | email ria
  News articles are reproduced for non-profit educational purposes.

website©ria tan 2003 www.wildsingapore.com