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Majestic fin whales

Icelandic whalers kill first fin whales in four years

As feared, whale hunters in Iceland have slaughtered at least two fin whales, the first...
hvalur-8-whaling-vessel

Majority of Icelandic people think whaling harms their country’s reputation

A survey of Icelandic people has confirmed that the majority believe whaling damages Iceland's reputation. ...
A magnificent sei whale © Christopher Swann

Japan Begins Commercial Whaling Season

Sei whale © Christopher Swann Japanese whalers have left port to begin this year's annual...
Humpback whales in Alaska

Pumps and conveyor belts. How could more whales help save us?

We are excited to announce backing for two ground-breaking research projects to assess the little...

New whale beer could leave a bad taste

Brewers in Australia have launched a new ale made from ambergris, a substance naturally secreted by sperm whales.

The Robe Town Brewery has said that its Moby Dick Ambergris Ale is brewed using small amounts of the waxy and foul smelling whale by-product as one of its ingredients. The brew was created as a special edition for a beer festival in Melbourne, Australia.

Ambergris is produced in the intestines of the whales to protect them from the sharp beaks of squid that they eat. It is then passed out by the whale as faecal matter, or vomited into the sea, where the salt and sun turn it into a hard rock over a long period of time. It is sought after by the cosmetics industry because it helps to prolong the scent of perfume and so, when found, it often fetches high prices at auction.

A brewery in Iceland caused international controversy in 2014 when it launched a beer for a local festival that contained parts of dead whales.

This latest use ambergris in a beer seems to be a gimmick. It is currently perfectly legal in most countries (including the UK) to salvage a lump of ambergris from beaches as the substance is regarded as a by-product and therefore outside the scope of the body that governs such trade, CITES  (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). However, the situation is slightly different in Australia, where ambergris is considered to be a whale product and therefore, its export and import is regulated under part 13A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999.

Trade in whale products or by-products of any kind perpetuates the notion of whales as a commodity, with their parts to be consumed or used in some way by humans.