Japan slaughtered over 120 pregnant whales in last annual summer hunt

In this Jan. 31, 2018, image supplied by Dr Regina Eisert of the University of Canterbury a minke whale floats to the surface through the ice in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Marine mammal expert Regina Eisert thought minke whales were a little boring until she captured some stiking footage of one swimming underwater near Antarctica. Now she thinks they're beautiful. (Regina Eisert/University of Canterbury via AP)

JAPAN (Circa) - Of the 333 minke whales killed in Japan's annual "scientific" summer hunt last season, 122 were pregnant females, reports The Independent. The killings have prompted calls for action on the part of the international community.

Japan had signed a moratorium on hunting from the International Whaling Commission. However, the country exploits a loophole in the agreement each year, claiming the whales are killed in the name of "scientific research," despite the fact that meat from the harpooned animals is later sold and eaten.

“The killing of 122 pregnant whales is a shocking statistic and sad indictment on the cruelty of Japan’s whale hunt,” said Alexia Wellbelove, senior program manager at Humane Society International. “It is further demonstration, if needed, of the truly gruesome and unnecessary nature of whaling operations, especially when non-lethal surveys have been shown to be sufficient for scientific needs."

The slaughtered animals were taken aboard two vessels during last summer's hunt. Data concerning their measurements, stomach contents, and blubber were recorded and later collected by Japan's fisheries agency. It claims that its program is carried out in accordance with international guidelines.

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