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Animal culture crucial for conservation says new research paper

WDC's Philippa Brakes, together with a number of experts working on a wide range of...

Can space technology tell us how many whales there are?

This exciting project is part of Deloitte's Gravity Challenge, a global programme that encourages corporates,...
minke whale breaching

Norway urged to abandon plans to experiment on captured whales

WDC has teamed up with the Animal Welfare Institute and NOAH (Norway's largest NGO for...

Captivity ‘done and dusted’ in Australian state

The new regulations were introduced by NSW environment minister Matt Kean and followed inquiry into...
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  • All policy news
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling

Minke whale hunts stop in Iceland

Iceland’s commercial hunt of minke whales has ended for this year. The common minke whale is the...
Port River dolphins

New report reveals 100,000 dolphins and small whales hunted every year

When you hear the words ‘dolphin hunts’ it’s likely that you think of Japan or...

Australian Government to block Japanese whaling proposal

Japanese Government officials have reportedly confirmed that they will propose the resumption of commercial whaling...

Pregnant whales once again a target for Japanese whalers

Figures from Japan's whaling expedition to Antarctica during the 2017/18 austral summer have revealed that...

Did Icelandic whalers really kill a blue whale?

*Warning - this blog contains an image that you may find upsetting* They say a...

Icelandic whalers breach international law and kill iconic, protected whale by mistake

Icelandic whalers out hunting fin whales for the first time in three years appear to...

Doubts remain after Icelandic Marine Institute claims slaughtered whale was a hybrid not a blue

Experts remain sceptical of initial test results issued by the Icelandic Marine Institute, which indicate...

Japan set to resume commercial whaling

Reports from Japan suggest that the government they will formally propose plans to resume commercial...

End the whale hunts! Icelandic fin whaler isolated as public mood shifts

Here’s a sight I hoped never again to witness. A boat being scrubbed and repainted...

Norway increases whaling quota despite declining demand

Norway's government has announced an increase in the number of minke whales that can be...

Icelandic fin whale hunting to resume

Iceland’s only fin whaling company, Hvalur hf,  announced today that it will resume fin whaling...

SOS alert for whales off Norway!

I have to admit to bitter disappointment when I arrived in Tromsø, northern Norway, a...

Doubts remain after Icelandic Marine Institute claims slaughtered whale was a hybrid not a blue

Experts remain sceptical of initial test results issued by the Icelandic Marine Institute, which indicate that a whale controversially killed just a few days ago by whalers was a blue/fin hybrid, not a pure blue.

Blue whales are a protected species even in Icelandic waters but hybrids are not and, despite their equally rare status, there are no penalties for killing a hybrid blue/fin whale.

According to a press release, the Institute states, “the genetic results confirm the preliminary assessment that the whale in question that was caught on July 7th was a hybrid of a fin whale father and a blue whale mother.”

Following the release of images of the whale, after it was landed on Saturday, 17 scientists believed that Iceland had broken international law by killing a blue whale and called for a halt to the whaling company’s (Hvalur hf.) operations.

Due to massive pressure from blue whale experts, the media and the public, the genetic testing was fast-tracked and the results were published last night.  

However, doubts still remain about the testing. Vanessa Williams-Grey, policy manager at WDC, commented that “given that it is in the Icelandic whalers’ interest to have this whale confirmed as a hybrid – thus getting them off the charge of killing a blue whale – how can we be sure that the testing process was genuine and robust? We demand transparency and call for the results to be scrutinized by independent experts”.

Whalers in Iceland dismiss hybrids as ‘anomalies of nature’ and have already killed four of only five known hybrids since 1983. Even though hybrids are infertile in other animal species, a blue-fin whale hybrid that was caught in Iceland in 1986 was found to be pregnant. This makes hybrids extremely important to research and can help us to understand evolutionary and ecological processes.

“Whether ‘true blue’ or a hybrid that happens to look extremely like a blue whale, one thing is clear: this was a rare and special whale”, Williams-Grey continues, “if the whalers mistook him for a fin whale but think their ‘mistake’ is without consequence that tells you everything you need to know about the callousness and ineptitude of this industry.”

 Blue whale blow

Arne Feuerhahn, CEO of Hard to Port, who initially brought the slaughtered whale to public attention, has also cast doubt on the DNA test results and said they are in favour of Havlur hf. owner, Kristján Loftsson. Hvalur hf. has a quota to kill 161 fin whales in 2018, and unfortunately, hybrids are included.

Iceland’s Prime Minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir is now under growing pressure from international media and increased opposition to whaling in her own country and Iceland’s whaling laws are up for review this year.

We need to keep up the pressure and need your help! If you are in central London this Friday, 20 July at 1 pm, please join a peaceful protest outside the Icelandic embassy in Knightsbridge.