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Whale Watching Tourists Observe Whalers at Work

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Whale Watching Tourists Observe Whalers at Work

Whaling boats Reykjavík

Whaling ships at Reykjavík harbor. Photo: Páll Stefánsson

Tourists on a whale watching trip in Iceland got more than they bargained for and were reportedly horrified when they witnessed whaling vessel Hvalur 8 pull dead fin whales to shore instead of the living whales they had paid to see.

“Watching the whaling vessel heading into port, dragging the dead whales was the definition of a crossroad for Iceland,” U.S. tourist Timothy Baker told the Daily Mail on Friday. “You can’t have dead whales being the only thing seen by people who spend money on whale-watching.”

Baker was quick to take pictures of the whaling vessel (which can be seen here) and afterwards informed animal rights organizations, which, once again, urged Icelandic authorities to revoke all whaling quotas.

This season’s whaling quotas allow for the killing of 154 fin whales and 229 minke whales. According to the Daily Mail, so far 28 minkes and 91 fin whales, which are listed as endangered, have been killed this season.

Meanwhile, Iceland’s whale watching industry has been growing steadily since it was established in the 1990s; last year more than 200,000 people went whale watching in Iceland, generating ISK 1.5-1.7 billion (USD 12-13 million, EUR 10-11 million) in ticket sales, Fréttatíminn reports.

A recent poll cited by the Daily Mail indicates that almost 90 percent of U.K. and German tourists would be unlikely to take a whale watching trip in Iceland if there were a possibility of seeing whales being killed or transported back to shore.

Last month, Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson suggested that perhaps Iceland should consider reducing whaling—not necessarily on principle, but for the sake of not being shunned by the international community at meetings on oceanic affairs.

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