Thursday, 9 August 2018

UPDATE: Whale killing: DNA shows Iceland whale was rare hybrid

By Matt McGrathEnvironment correspondent
20 July 2018

Genetic material from a large whale killed off the coast of Iceland has confirmed the creature was a rare hybrid.

Campaigners had been concerned that the slaughtered animal was a protected blue whale, the largest species on the planet.

Now DNA has shown it to be the offspring of a blue and a fin whale, as the whaling company had claimed.

Researchers say these hybrids are rare and trading their meat is illegal.

Photographic evidence from anti-whaling groups had shown a large animal being butchered in Iceland early in July - based on these images, some experts concluded that it was a juvenile male blue, a species that hasn't been deliberately killed since 1978.

Now tests carried out at Iceland's Marine Research Institute have confirmed that it was the offspring of a female blue whale and a male fin whale.

Why does the species matter?
The key reason for interest in the species was to determine whether this killing was legal or not under Icelandic law.

Weighing as much as 200 tonnes and stretching up to 30 metres, blue whales were hunted to the brink by commercial whalers from many countries including the UK from the 1940s to the 1960s when they became a protected stock under the International Whaling Commission.

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