Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Fundraising
  • Green Whale
  • Prevent bycatch
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling
MicrosoftTeams-image (9)

Double Your Impact for Marine Animal Rescue & Response

On a chilly day this past December, the WDC North America team celebrated the first...
20230126_091707

WDC’s Education Wishlist = Cleared!

To the WDC Community, I want to thank you so much for your support of...
Hysazu Photography

Looking forward for Southern Resident orcas in 2023

Hysazu Photography 2022 was a big year for Southern Resident orcas - 2022 brought the...
Credit: Seacoast Science Center

The Unlikely Adventure of Shoebert, a Young Grey Seal Who Visited an Industrial Park Pond

Credit: Seacoast Science Center In mid-September, our stranding partners in northern Massachusetts were inundated with...
Leaping harbour porpoise

The power of harbour porpoise poo

We know we need to save the whale to save the world. Now we are...
Right whale - Regina WDC

Whale and Dolphin Conservation: Change Through Policy.

WDC focuses on education, research, conservation projects, and policy work to create a sustainable future...
Clear the list graphic

Clear WDC’s Amazon Wishlist for Giving Tuesday

UPDATE: We are thrilled to report that everything was donated off of our Amazon Wishlist...
Fin whales are targeted by Icelandic whalers

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...

Pitiful waste in Iceland

This is not how Saturday evenings are meant to be spent. Whilst most of Europe basks in a heatwave, I stand shivering on a remote hillside just above the Hvalur whaling station at Hvalfjörður, an hour’s drive north-east of Reykjavik. This is a starkly beautiful landscape, the fjord framed by dark hills, fulmars cackling and wheeling low over the water, all this contrasting vividly with the pitiful spectacle unfolding only metres away from my vantage point. 

In front of us, 100 metres from shore, the Hvalur 8 is moored to the landing stage, its grim work done.  At first, slight turbulence in the water below is the only sign that something is happening, but quickly the all-but submerged body of a fin whale is revealed, hauled inexorably towards the landing stage.  As the carcass continues its obscene progress up the slipway, it is clear that this is a small whale – a male and, at around 12 metres, only a juvenile at that. Fully winched, we can clearly see the gaping entry wounds from the harpoon. No time is lost, there is a flurry of activity and the flensing irons are wielded.

This bit is surreal – we move closer to stand at the perimeter fence, standing next to maybe 50 people, presumably the crew’s families, all of us scant metres from the flensing process.  Babies ride high on shoulders and children press closer to watch as this little whale is cut open, a sudden torrent of blood and entrails.

Loftsson’s crew work with ruthless efficiency and precision, hacking off the fluke and within minutes stripping back the whale’s skin as if peeling a grotesque banana. The blubber beneath is bridal white.

 Amidst the spectacle, one thought circles constantly in my mind: What a waste, what a senseless waste. This animal’s fate is almost certainly to join its comrades, languishing for years in freezers both in Iceland and Japan.

Only last week, six containers of several-year-old fin whale meat, bound for Japan, were impounded at the port of Hamburg and are now en route back to Iceland.  Whaler Kristjan Loftsson declares that the return is ‘not the end of the world’ but with reduced demand and fewer transportation options, the time has come to recognise that this is trade is dead in the water.