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15 animals making headlines

minke whale

Photo: ZUMA Press

15 of 17

Whales

Despite a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling, Japan, Norway and Iceland use legal loopholes, such as “scientific research,” to hunt whales, killing more than 1,500 annually. This has angered conservationists and prompted anti-whaling nations to call on these countries to halt their hunts. Last summer, a proposal to end the ban in return for gradual cuts in the number of whales killed was on the table at the International Whaling Commission’s annual meeting. However, negotiations collapsed, and the IWC called for a yearlong “cooling off” period. Further complicating the issue are accusations that Japan has bought votes from IWC members like Grenada and the Marshall Islands. Many anti-whaling nations have also asked Japan to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean, a declared a whale sanctuary. It’s here in these Arctic waters that Japanese whalers have had numerous, high-profile encounters with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and this year Japan ended its hunt early, citing harassment by Sea Sheperd members.