Japanese Whalers Have No Compassion For The Minke Whale

By Kirsten Massebeau

The Deep and Sensitive Minke Whale

How can you not see the sensitivity and depth in the eyes of the minke whales. The minke is shy, and rather elusive weighing up to 14 tons. As the  smallest of the baleen whales, the minke is a filter feeder dining on krill, and small schooling fish like cod, and pollock. They are fast swimmers,swimming up to speeds of 24 mph. They reach maturity at 7 or 8 years of age. The females carry their babies for 10-11 months, and their babies nurse for 6 months much like humans. The females swim closer to the shore than the males. The minke’s travel in small groups or alone. They have complex family bonds, and communities. They speak a complex dialect and are famous for vocalizing the “boing”.

Unfortunately for the minke whales of 2011, they are a target of commercial whaling, “Only in recent decades have minke whales been taken by whalers to any extent; they were thought to be too small to be a worthwhile catch. But as the larger whale species became depleted, the whalers began to hunt the minke as a replacement. Since the late 1960s and 1970s, Japan, Russia (which has now ceased whaling), and (to some extent) Norway have focused their whaling efforts on minke whales”, “American Cetacean Society http://www.acsonline.org/factpack/MinkeWhale.htm. ” Because they had already  driven the huge whales like the sperm whale to the brink of extinction, the whalers switched their focus to the smaller minke whale where it remains today.    

North Pacific whaling in Japan -- they use smaller harpoon boats (two have their home ports in Taiji), and kill whales within 50 km of the port they're whaling out of. No "mother ship" here, they just drag the poor soul by it's tail to the port, load it onto the dock via crane and start cutting.(Brian Barnes, Save Japan Dolphins.org, May 13,2011) http://mainichi.jp/photo/graph/20110505/14.jp 
On April 26, 2011 three so called, “research” whaling ships left the ports of Kushiro and Hokkaido. The thirty member crew had received a permit to harvest sixty minke whales for research purposes. In the name of research the Japanese will end up with approximately six hundred tons of minke whale meat.

Minke whale sashimi @ Fugu Itou - Ginza - Tokyo

This Minke Whale sashimi was slaughtered in the name of research.

The hunted whale has a violent awakening from its quiet life.”Even using ‘modern’ methods – which have changed little in 100 years – whale hunts often involve prolonged and intense suffering. The hunt often begins with a pursuit lasting hours, until the whale slows from exhaustion.Once in range, hunters fire an exploding harpoon. This is intended to pierce the whale’s body to a depth of 12 inches before detonation.Sea swells and movement of the boat and whale make a single lethal shot almost impossible.Even if on target, the harpoon rarely kills instantly. Instead it causes massive shock and injury. Inaccurate shots are followed by secondary harpoons and rifle fire.Hunters winch the injured animal onto their boat. At this point, it can be unclear whether the whale is dead – they can store vast amounts of oxygen and shut down all but their essential organs.The whalers’ criteria for judging when a whale is dead are considered inadequate by theInternational Whaling Commission. This means whales may still be in pain even when recorded as dead. Whalers frequently claim that a whale dies within two minutes. WSPA has proof that the death throes can last over an hour.”http://www.wspa-international.org/wspaswork/whaling/aninhumaneend.aspx

Until Japan voluntarily ends their insatiable desire  for whale meat the minke whales future is bleak.


Contact the Japanese Embassy in Washington DC and urge them to stop killing whales and dolphins.  Be polite, and urge them to protect Japanese consumers from mercury poisoning from eating dangerous whale and dolphin meat.

Ambassador Ichiro FUJISAKI

2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20008

Phone:  202-238-6700

Fax: 202-328-2187

Japan Information and Culture Center

E-mail: jicc@ws.mofa.go.jp

Email the Prime Minister of Japan Nato Kan. Let him know you will not support Japan if they won’t stop murdering cetaceans. By Law the Japanese government must respond to all emails. This is a direct link to his comment page.


Please Support the Sea Shepherds, The Cove Guardians, Save Japan Dolphins, and Wdsf/Prowal. Together we can make a difference.

3 thoughts on “Japanese Whalers Have No Compassion For The Minke Whale

    • Thanks for the thumbs up Jeff! I agree we need to protect the minke today. I believe in the future the baleen whales is somewhat compromised because they are filter feeders and eat krill. The krill market is exploding, for the fish oil. Overfishing of krill and other small schooling fish is a huge problem. So the minke has to live a depletion of food supply, and the threat of Japanese, Icelandic, and Norwegian whalers.

  1. Thank-you so much for this post Kirsten. After reading your post I quickly scanned the internet for information on the minke whale. Apparently, their brains are just huge. How will the Japanese, Nowegians, Icelanders and Faroe’s feel when scientists enable us to speak with cetaceans. The poor minke whale in the picture above. He looks just so sad and weak in that sling. His quiet life was taken forever.

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