Thursday, August 03, 2006

A win for the whales 'maybe'

Whales 'could be saved by own skin'
RESEARCHERS in Australia are working on a humane way of carrying out scientific research on whales - by catching bits of their sloughed-off skin, according to the scientific journal Nature.Currently scientists determine the age of whales - necessary for assessing how their numbers are recovering from decades of commercial whaling - by counting layers in their ear wax, a procedure that can only be performed on a dead whale.
Now researchers from the Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre in Lismore, NSW, are developing another method.
Trailing behind the mammals in a boat, they use a kitchen sieve tied to the end of a stick to scoop up flakes of skin shed naturally by the whales when they soar out of the water or slap their tails onto its surface.
They believe they may be able to develop a system to work out a whale's age by removing genetic material from the skin samples.
"If they are right, one of the key arguments in favour of killing whales for scientific purposes will be dead in the water," the London-based international journal Nature said.
The researchers said the need for humane methods was now urgent, since Japan has declared it will increase its annual catch of whales for "research purposes", Nature reported.
The International Whaling Commission imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986 but Japan has continued hunting for what it calls scientific research.

1 comment:

Patty said...

There goes my appetite, thanks Dieter. I read the other day that %80 of whales the Japanese killed this season were pregnant. DISCUSTING! The thing is that
§ Japanese schoolchildren are being encouraged to eat whale meat, because
§ Warehouses in Japan are crammed with excess meat, causing a huge glut
And yet Australia allows this mad slaughter to continue. Madness.

25 July 2006

SYDNEY - Almost three-quarters of the female whales killed by Japanese whalers in Antarctic waters this hunting season were pregnant, an anti-whaling activist said Tuesday in Sydney.
Quoting from a Japanese government report prepared for the International Whaling Commission, Nicola Beynon of Human Society International said 224 of the 391 female minke whales were pregnant when they were hit with harpoons tipped with explosives.
She also told Australia ABC Radio that the locations given in the report showed most died in what Canberra has demarcated as the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
“Japan is blatant,” Beynon said. “They openly admit to killing whales in Australian waters that Australia considers to be in its own territorial waters and has declared a whale sanctuary.”