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Photo: Golli.

Pregnant Fin Whale Killed by Hvalur hf.

Whaling company Hvalur hf. killed a pregnant fin whale earlier this week.

The fin whale killed by whaling company Hvalur hf. on Monday was pregnant, Vísir reports. Pictures of the dead foetus were posted to social media by animal rights advocacy group Hard to Port. “We hope that our revelation will kickstart a much needed public and political debate here in Iceland about the ethical defensibility of these operations,” the post stated.

Gísli Víkingsson, a specialist at the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) says it is common that whaling operations kill pregnant fin whales, who are often in the last few months of their pregnancy during whaling season. “It’s a sort of rule that fin whale cows bear offspring every other year. The calves are born around the beginning of the year, and the cow is weaning the calf around the middle of the year,” Gísli stated.

“It’s illegal to shoot a [fin whale] cow with a breastfeeding calf here in the country, and quite common for cows that have reached puberty to be pregnant,” Gísli says.

The Icelandic Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Dýraverndarsamband Íslands) has taken a stance against whaling in Iceland, calling it unjustifiable. “It cannot be acceptable to shoot pregnant animals, that would not be allowed in reindeer hunting, for example,” Hallgerður Hauksdóttir, chairperson of the society stated.

Hallgerður added that it is not known how long hunted whales may suffer before they die. “Here we are talking about hot-blooded mammals and it’s been shown the animals have intelligence and feelings like other mammals. It is impossible to justify this hunting.”

In 2013, a Norwegian expert accompanied a Hvalur hf. boat during a whale hunt and submitted a report that is believed to contain information on how long the animals remain alive when hunted. Then Minister of Fisheries Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson said the results would not be made public in response to an inquiry from Katrín Jakobsdóttir, now Prime Minister of Iceland.

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