Find out about the effects of whale hunting on the environment and how you can support the international ban.
A brief history
Whale hunting first became a profitable industry in the 15th century. At the time, whales were killed for their meat and to produce things like cooking oils, soaps and fertilizer.
It became so common that all female whales with calves as well as some specific species of whales became protected by the International Whaling Commission.
In 1986, some countries decided to ban whale hunting to give the species time to reproduce. However, other countries didn’t support the ban and continued to hunt illegally.
On some occasions individual whales have been protected too. Most recently, Migaloo, a rare white whale, was given protection by the Australian government who have put a ban on people going anywhere near him.
What are the effects?
The population of different whales have decreased dramatically since whale hunting began. There are approximately 9,200 blue whales left and only 1,500 southern right whales.
The food chain
Other types of animals are also affected by whale hunting. As there are fewer smaller whales in the oceans, bigger whales that normally feed on them are having to eat other animals like dolphins, sea lions and seals.
The way in which whales are killed is very brutal. They are shot with a two-metre long iron harpoon that is attached to a grenade, which then goes off inside their body. Sometimes though, whales can survive the blast and suffer hours of pain before eventually passing away.
In recent years the demand for whale meat hasn’t been great. In fact, a recent poll revealed that just one per cent of homes in Iceland, where hunting is extremely popular, eat whale meat once a week. Despite this, whales are still being hunted for their meat on a regular basis.
Are there any pros?
Some organisations claim to hunt whales for scientific research. However, most anti-whaling organisations say that this can be done without killing whales – it may be more expensive and could take longer to get results, but it’s possible.
How do I help?
If you want to find out more about whale hunting, One World Wildlife, a charity which aims to protect whales and other sea life creatures from hunters is a good place to start.
Adopting a whale also enables organisations to help reduce threats. Adopt a whale.
Did you know?
- There are 80 different species of whale.
- The blue whale can weigh up to 200 tonnes and can eat three million calories a day.
- Killer whales are in fact, the largest and most clever species of dolphin.
- All whales create high pitched sounds to communicate with each other. The sounds are often called whale songs and can be over 30 minutes long. Male humpbacks are especially known to be good ‘singers’.