(TMU) — Iceland’s notorious tradition of killing whales may be finally coming to an end.
Earlier this week, one of the country’s two whaling companies announced that it would halt its whaling activities for good. The announcement came mere days after Iceland said that for the second consecutive year, all whale hunts would be canceled.
IP-Utgerd, one of the main companies specializing in hunting minke whales in Iceland, told AFP that it would hang up its harpoons mainly due to regulations introduced by the Icelandic government.
The company, which had been considering whaling with only a single boat in late June or early July, decided that it makes the most financial sense to simply abandon the summer season altogether rather than attempt to get around extended no-fishing coastal zones rolled out to protect marine life.
The delineation of such zones had forced the company to go further and further offshore due to the no-fishing zones, making such activities no longer financially viable in Icelandic waters, the company said.
Managing director Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson said:
“I’m never going to hunt whales again, I’m stopping for good.”
One of Iceland's two whaling companies has announced it will stop whaling for good
It is now no longer economical to kill Whales
Story by Kitty Block of Humane Society
. Photo by Christin Khan/NOAA Fisheries pic.twitter.com/FX4MnQB7hN
— Robb Edwards 🌱 (@RobRobbEdwards) April 27, 2020
The country’s largest whaling firm called Hvalur, which specializes in hunting fin whales, is also ceasing its operations for the second year in a row due to stiff competition from Japanese whaling firms, among other reasons.
Hulvar CEO Kristján Loftsson also admitted that the coronavirus pandemic would make it “extremely difficult, if not impossible” for his staff to work as normal due to their close proximity and the need to uphold physical distancing guidelines.
Loftsson also said that most of the whale meat it specializes in procuring is sold to Japan, where it is desired as an “iron-rich dietary supplement for anemia patients.” However, he added that his company is unable to compete with the Japanese whaling industry which is subsidized by the country’s government.
According to Humane Society International, a total of 146 fin whales and six minke whales were killed in 2018, the last year during which Iceland’s whaling fleet was active.
Animal rights advocates have warmly welcomed the news and trumpeted it as a signal that the whaling industry in Iceland may have come to an end.
For the second year in a row, neither of Iceland's whaling companies will be hunting this summer. One of them has even told press that they're stopping whaling for good!#OPSociety @RacingXtinction pic.twitter.com/JyeteGUm9u
— Oceanic Preservation Society / OPS (@OP_Society) April 28, 2020
Fabienne McLellan, co-director of international relations at Ocean Care, told Mongabay:
“This is indeed terrific news that for a second straight year, vulnerable fin whales will get a reprieve from Hvalur hf’s harpoons, the sole fin whaling company.
“This said, fin whaling has been suspended in Iceland in the past, only to resume. While it looks promising that whaling in Iceland might stop for good, the temporary cessation of fin whaling must become permanent.”
However, Arne Feuerhahn, the founder of Hard to Port, warned that whaling could potentially begin again next year – especially if Loftsson is able to figure out a way to get around COVID-19 guidelines and find a solution to the challenges presented by Japanese firms. He said:
“We’re celebrating the moment that there’s not going to be any whaling, but we’re also aware of the possibility that they’re going to resume next year.
“We have to look at the past, and I know that with fin whaling, Iceland sometimes takes a pause for two years.
“It’s a family business and he [Loftsson] wants to keep it alive, so despite all the problems with the Japanese market, and the problems in Iceland with the [Covid-19] guidelines, he might come up with a solution for it, and we could go back to whaling in 2021.”
Kitty Block, the CEO of Humane Society International, slammed Japan and Norway in a statement for defying the global moratorium on whaling and continuing to slaughter hundreds of animals every year, despite demand for the highly-subsidized whale meat declining.
Nevertheless, she said:
“The news from Iceland marks a major turning point in the battle against whaling. We are happy that the whaling companies there have realized the futility of this enterprise in the modern world.”
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Blue Whales Return to Spain’s Coast After Disappearing for 40 Years
Blue whales have been returning to the Atlantic coast of Spain after an absence of over 40 years in the region, when whaling industries drove the species to the brink of extinction.
Blue whales, which are the world’s largest mammals, had long disappeared from the region until the recent sightings.
The first was spotted off the coast of Galicia near Ons Island by marine biologist Bruno Díaz, who heads the Bottlenose Dolphin Research.
Another one of the majestic creatures was spotted the following year in 2018 and yet another in 2019. In 2020, two whales again made their return to the area.
It remains unclear as of yet as to why the creatures have returned to the area, but controls on local whaling industries are believed to play a role.
“I believe the moratorium on whaling has been a key factor,” Díaz remarked, according to the Guardian. “In the 1970s, just before the ban was introduced, an entire generation of blue whales disappeared. Now, more than 40 years later, we’re seeing the return of the descendants of the few that survived.”
Whaling had been a traditional industry in Galicia for hundreds of years before Spain finally acted to ban whaling in 1986, long after the blue whale’s presence in the region had faded away.
Some fear that the return of the massive sea mammals is a sign of global warming.
“I’m pessimistic because there’s a high possibility that climate change is having a major impact on the blue whale’s habitat,” said marine biologist Alfredo López in comments to La Voz de Galicia.
“Firstly, because they never venture south of the equator, and if global warming pushes this line north, their habitat will be reduced,” he continued “And secondly, if it means the food they normally eat is disappearing, then what we’re seeing is dramatic and not something to celebrate.”
Díaz said that while the data certainly supports this theory, it is too early to determine climate as the precise cause.
“It is true that the data we have points to this trend [climate change] but it is not enough yet,” he told Público news.
Another possibility is that the ancestral memory of the old creatures or even a longing for their home may offer an explanation, according to Díaz.
“In recent years it’s been discovered that the blue whale’s migration is driven by memory, not by environmental conditions,” he said. “This year there hasn’t been a notable increase in plankton, but here they are. Experiences are retained in the collective memory and drive the species to return.”
In recent years, researchers have found that migratory patterns are also driven by the cultural knowledge existing in many groups of species.
Researchers believe this type of folk memory, or cultural knowledge, exists in many species and is key to their survival.
A typical blue whale is 20-24 metres long and weighs 120 tonnes – equivalent to 16 elephants – but specimens of up to 30 metres and 170 tonnes have been found.