In 1986 an international moratorium was placed on commercial whaling, ordering whalers to cease and desist hunting of whales. Unfortunately, Japan has never felt that the moratorium applied to their commercial whalers. They have continued to hunt and kill whales, stating that the whales are needed for scientific research , medicinal purposes or other activities.
The nation is responsible for the deaths of hundreds whales every year.
A few weeks ago a Japanese whaler was attacked by an environmental activist group, the Sea Sheppard Conservation Society. The society’s members approached the whaling vessel on their large carrier, the Steve Irwin. When close enough to the boat they boarded rubber rafts, pulled in even closer, and pelted the boat and its sailors with bottles, rotten butter, and paint. The Japanese whalers responded by turning powerful water hoses on the activists. 2 of the activists were injured, one from the intense water pressure and one from a steel ball also thrown from the whaling boat.
The environmentalists also believed that the whalers had a 'military grade acoustic weapon' on board. And although they claim that the whalers intended to use the weapon to ward off 'eco-terrorist' anti-whaling activists, the sonar machine could also be damaging to whales. Whales use echolocation to determine where they are and their surroundings, and the use of this type of sonar technology causes the whales to become disoriented and therefor easier to hunt.
This new use of technology to facilitate the slaughter of whales is a disturbing discovery.
It was hoped in 1986 that the moratorium against commercial whaling would put an end to man's destruction of this species. No such luck, report environmentalists. Japan never stopped, or even slowed down, their quest for whale meat. They unabashedly serve whale meat at their dinner tables and blame the western nations for making them “look bad” in the eyes of the rest of the world. When confronted about their persistence in continuing to hunt and kill whales even after the moratorium the Japanese responded by saying that other countries did not respect Japanese culture, and that whale and dolphin meat has formed part of traditional Japanese cuisine for thousands of years.
Along with hunting, there are other hazards endangering the whale population. Their use of echolocation to guide them is being interfered with with the rise of seismic testing used to find oil and gas reserves at sea. Experts fear that the rise in beached whales is partly a result of this type of testing.
A lasting worry is the threat of global warming and its effects on the world’s whale populations. Changes in the climate such as the warming of the oceans deplete the whales’ food source as well as alter thermal currents which the whales may use as a form of 'map'.
After thousands of years of majestically cruising the oceans, these magnificent sea mammals are now one of the ocean’s most endangered species.
How can you help?Animal Report