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  Channel NewsAsia 25 Aug 07
Bloody whale hunt off Japan shocks tourists: report

TOKYO: Whale watching tourists encountered hunters in waters off northern Japan and witnessed the bloody killing of a Baird's Beaked Whale, a report said Saturday.

Some 20 tourists on board the whale-watching ship Evergreen, some of them foreigners, witnessed the hunt Friday morning off the eastern coast of Hokkaido island, touching Okhotsk Sea, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper said.

The crew on Evergreen initially noticed a whaling ship and sprays from a whale's blowhole in waters about 3.5 kilometres (roughly 2.2 miles) away from them, the newspaper said, citing a Japanese whale watching guide.

When Evergreen approached within about 100 metres (330 feet) of the whaling ship, the tourists saw a harpoon shot into a Baird's Beaked Whale, according to the guide, the newspaper said.

Two other whale watching ships were also in the area, and the hunt sickened a few tourists and shocked children, the guide claimed, the Mainichi said.

Baird's Beaked Whale is not considered to be endangered.

"Our job is to show whales, and their job is to hunt. But can we do something about this situation?" the Evergreen's captain told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, the whaling ship has asked local authorities to warn tourism vessels that they have been getting too close to the whaling ship and operating dangerously, the Mainichi said. - AFP/ac

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