Menu
Blog about animals
Selected the best cow in Germany
Fishing ban proposed near Rockall after rare scientific finds
Life and death on the riverbank
Baboon shot dead after escaping from Knowsley Safari Park
Birdwatch: Peregrine falcon
Iceland's fin whales are endangered. Stop this bloody cull
The pitfalls of elderly dog insurance
Valley where Edward Carpenter, gay rights campaigner and socialist, walked
Green groups warn government of national parks hunting backlash
Demand for ivory destabilising central Africa
Dog walker found neighbour trampled by cows, inquest hears
Cat stands for election in Mexican city
I hear some hip cat's running for mayor in Mexico. That gives me an idea
Wader chick fever grips birds and spotters alike
Philippines destroys five tonnes of elephant tusks
The Dwyfor is surely one of the loveliest of Welsh rivers
New to nature No 107: Typhochlaena costae
How to beat the midges this summer
Controversial herring gull cull gets green light
Whaling's day in court is a sea change for conservation
Australia censures Japan for 'scientific' whaling
The young red deer stags were on their hind legs boxing, just like hares
Our garden's blackbirds started their nest-building early this year
UK wildlife and nature hit hard by erratic weather
  Iceland's fin whales are endangered. Stop this bloody cull
Last night, Hvalur 8 and 9, two whaling vessels owned by millionaire entrepreneur Kristjan Loftsson, left Reykjavik harbour in Iceland, bound on a north-westerly course for the open Atlantic. Hvalur 8 was last logged at 64 degrees latitude, 23 degrees longitude before it went out of range of commercially available data. Together with its sister ship, its mission is to resume the harpooning and killing of fin whales, the second largest animal (after the blue whale) on Earth.

For two years Iceland's fin whale hunt has been suspended but only because the economic market for whale meat, Japan, was suffering the after-effects of its cataclysmic earthquake. In the terrible logistics of global economics, the whale meat market is open for business again partly, it is claimed, to provide luxury dog food snacks.

Iceland has set itself a quota of 184 fin whales, potentially to be killed over the next few months. Thankfully, that is an optimistic target on the hunters' part. But the resumption of this cull raises once again deep political issues. Ironically, many Icelanders oppose whaling on economic grounds the trade is bad for tourism, they say, since the whale-watching boats, which also operate out of Reykjavik, may find themselves witnessing the slaughter of the animals that their passengers have paid to see.

Conversely, Icelandic whalers who killed their first minke whales of the season last month have protested against new regulations forbidding them from operating in waters visited by the whale-watch boats on the grounds that these are also the most fertile waters for their hunts. Meanwhile, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation charity claims that tourists are actually sustaining the whaling by eating whale meat in Icelandic restaurants, believing that they are taking part in an essential cultural expression of the island's traditional diet.

This Alice-in-Wonderland situation is only exacerbated by Iceland's current and pressing dilemma over whether it should join the EU which would surely insist on new controls, if not a cessation, of whaling. However, strident noises made by the Obama administration in the US earlier this year promising direct political action if the Icelandic fin-whale hunt went ahead appears to have fizzled out.

Last night's sailing ought to challenge all those imponderables with the visceral, imminent and present threat: of the death of endangered animals (as they are classified on the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, "red list"). Fin whales, despite their size, remain mysterious creatures. Even in the second decade of the 21st century, we do not know where they go to breed although they are the loudest animals on Earth. A fin whale on one side of the Atlantic can be heard by another fin whale on the other side. Unfortunately, we don't appear to be listening.

Until three years ago, we believed that fin whales lived to be less than 70 years old. But the necropsy of a stranded fin whale in Denmark believed to be a juvenile was found, in analysis, to be 140 years old. We know so little about these animals that whatever political, economical or environmental claims may or may not be made by humans in determining their fate, surely the basic fact of our own ignorance ought to count for something? Apparently not to Loftsson and his crew, currently sailing out into the Atlantic, bent on their bloody mission.
'Wild' animals in travelling circuses benefit no one
The intoxicated world of the spotted flycatcher
Fishing quotas can be redistributed to favour smaller vessels high court
Madagascar battling worst locust plague since 1950s
A broody sparrow meets his match
Climate change is happening too quickly for species to adapt
The weird and wonderful world of the naked mole rat
Australian woman seriously injured during Spanish bull run
Spain's endangered Iberian lynx brought back from brink of extinction
One man and his sniffer dog help tackle Germany's hidden drug problem
The hotel that only takes dogs
T rex tooth found embedded in prey, restoring dinosaur's reputation
Bog cotton covers the summer Peak District moors in snow
Lifelike after death: the intricacies of a taxidermist's craft
The six-spot burnet moths complete their transformation
Research on animals in UK rises by 8% to exceed 4m procedures
Animal testing it's time to talk about it again
A pair of lithe animals are tumbling across the grass within feet of me
New to nature no 109: Anochetus hohenbergiae
England's ceremonial mayors eschew fur to support animal rights
Birdwatch: Corn bunting
Madrid declares war on plague of raccoon and parrot invaders
Snow leopards and wild yaks becoming 'fashion victims'
Horn seizure prompts rhinos warning
Threatened seabirds 'neglected' in plans for Scottish marine protected areas
Los Angeles campgrounds closed after plague-infected squirrel found
Only when I look down at the last second do I see it. I recoil instinctively
China's wine boom of little profit to giant pandas and small farmers
Menu
Let's not martyr the white-throated needletail to the anti-wind cause
Grasshopper breeder up for design award and educating western palates
Spanish national park could lose Unesco status over illegal boreholes
Dog mauls boy at primary school in Northern Ireland
Our dog walks are punctuated by the corn bunting's jingling ringtone
End in sight for painful branding of semi-wild moorland ponies
New to nature No 108: Carlia decora
Penguins support gorillas as biscuit makers respond to palm oil threat
Measuring carbon age in ivory could help combat poaching, study shows
How to survive a seagull attack
A walk by the river triggers memories of a bygone age
Whales flee from military sonar leading to mass strandings, research shows
Down among the grass stems, a ball of recently hatched orb-web spiderlings
Owen Paterson vows to rid England of bovine TB with badger culls
Gassing of badgers considered in plan to eradicate TB in cattle
Visitors to the Pamplona bull run have blood on their hands
Bats: they've never had it so good
These dew ponds have been on the Downs possibly since medieval times
Australian bushman claims to have footage of legendary night parrot
Secret badger shoots pose 'a risk to public safety'
Cheshire police seize dog believed to have killed Pomeranian
Whale watching season is back - but how close is too close?
Plan to ban wild animals in travelling circuses 'goes too far'
Morrissey donates Channel 4 payout to Peta campaign against foie gras