'First blue whale' caught in 50 years

Blue Whale carcass

Iceland allows hunting of smaller fin whales, despite an global moratorium on commercial whaling established by the worldwide Whaling Commission.

Phillip Clapham, head of cetacean assessment at the Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle, studied photographs of the whale caught by Hvalur and said it was likely to be a blue whale, not a hybrid.

However, Iceland doesn't follow the global moratorium on killing all whales, and will give permits for hunting fin whales, which they do not believe are threatened.

'From the photos, it has all the characteristics of a blue whale; given that - notably the coloration pattern - there is nearly no possibility that an experienced observer would have misidentified it as anything else at sea'.

Gísli Arnór Víkingsson at the Iceland Marine Institute, said: "We heard about this odd whale straight away and an employee reports that it's in many ways similar to a hybrid which has been brought to us quite a lot recently which is unusual".

Experts believe the whale could be a blue whale-fin whale hybrid.

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No other nation, not even Japan or Norway, slaughters Fin whales, and there had not been a Blue whale harpooned for the last 50 years until this one.

"Whale 22 (documented by us on July 7th midnight / July 8th early morning) shows features of a blue whale (darker belly, all black baleen, bluish colour)", they wrote in a Facebook post.

A massive whale, believed to be a blue whale, slaughtered in Iceland.

A change in Japanese regulations caused the Icelandic government to reconsider their moratorium on whaling, as Loftsson's company kills fin whales predominantly for export to the Japanese market.

Icelandic whalers appear to have killed an endangered blue whale before chopping it up to be eaten as a delicacy in Japan.

Sea Shepherd UK's Chief Operating officer Robert Read demanded that DNA samples should be taken from from all the whale meat and parts in storage at Loftsson's whaling station and warehouses.

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Activists want the animal to have DNA tests to prove it is a blue whale.

"Iceland's whaling is rogue and archaic and should command diplomatic criticism at the highest levels".

Blue whales are an endangered species but hybrids are not a protected species.

Loftsson's whaling station crew posed for photos next to and on top of the whale. Prior to the catastrophic commercial whaling of the 20 century it is estimated that there were in the region of a quarter of a million blue whales, but their populations crashed in the 1950s and 60s.

Their founder, Paul Watson, said: "This man (Loftsson) must be stopped from ruthlessly violating worldwide conservation law and bringing such disrepute to the nation of Iceland".

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