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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Reports on the Status of Whales

For those of you interested, you can find an in-depth report on cruel nature of whale hunting here. Sample quote:

This short review of cetacean biology raises a number of issues with respect to killing these animals for profit:
• from a cruelty perspective, the diving adaptations of the animals may make it difficult to determine whether they are dead;
• their sheer mass, complex blood systems and adaptations to marine life will also be complicating factors in trying to kill them swiftly and humanely;
• the intelligence, self awareness and family and other social bonds known from some of the better studied species raise ethical dilemmas for those that wish to kill, or otherwise, exploit these animals;
• consideration of the dimension of ‘culture’ should exacerbate these concerns because we, as the human species, now need to consider whether we are in danger of destroying other cultures, as well as destroying individuals, populations and species by our actions.


And a catalogue of the other threats (besides hunting) that cetaceans face can be found here. These include climate change, bycatch, prey depletion, and pollution. Sample quote:

Bycatch is possibly the single greatest threat facing cetaceans, with more whales, dolphins and porpoises killed every year from entanglement in fishing gear than from any other cause. Recent studies estimate global bycatch to be more than 300000 cetaceans annually, with the vast majority of mortalities caused by gill-net fisheries. Although a preliminary value, this is thought to be a conservative estimate. Bycatch is an important factor in a number of cetacean population declines, and threatens several species with extinction, including the vaquita (Phocoena sinus) and baiji (Lipotes vexillifer).

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2 Comments:

  • Hi Tristan,

    I'm glad you identified that "Bycatch is possibly the single greatest threat facing cetaceans, with more whales, dolphins and porpoises killed every year from entanglement in fishing gear than from any other cause."

    This is quite right.

    In fact, scientists have been pointing out that political debates about the relatively insignificant threat of modern whaling are a distraction from these true threats.

    Conservationists need to keep the public focussed on truely vulnerable whale species such as the the Northern Right whale and the Western Gray whale (the two most endangered species of great whale in the world at the current time), and the threats to their continued existence - which do not include sustainable whaling by Icelanders, Norwegians, Japanese, Americans, Russians, Greenlanders or Caribbean whalers.

    By Anonymous david, At 8:27 am  

  • david don't be disingenuous. if whales are under vast threat from from 'entanglement in fishing gear' and so on, then hunting them becomes even LESS defensible.

    brush up on your hobby horse.

    By Anonymous daelm, At 12:03 pm  

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