Migaloo, World's Only White Humpback Whale, Could be Hunted
Migaloo, the world's only white humpback whale could be hunted by Japanese whalers as the whaling ships are set to embark on their latest hunt in the Southern Ocean, where Migaloo can currently be found.
Migaloo is a whale celebrity in Australia, making an annual appearance since 1991, and every year he migrates with thousands of other humpbacks from Antarctica to the South Pacific and the Great Barrier Reef. After a few months, the whales, with their new calves, return to Antarctica.
Migaloo is often a source of excitement amongst whale watchers, but conservationists are worried this could be what kills him.
Conservationists fear that Migaloo is so accustomed to whale watching and fishing boats, that he will be easy pickings for Japanese hunters.
With the southern hemisphere summer approaching, the Japanese whaling fleet is preparing to leave port within days. It refuses to say exactly when.
The whalers have declared that they will kill 50 humpbacks, 50 fin whales and hundreds of minke whales. They say that the numbers of whales are now high enough that they can be hunted again.
The Fisheries Agency in Tokyo refused to rule out hunting Migaloo but did say to Australia and New Zealand that they would like the Japanese fleet to be protected from anti-whaling ships operated by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
It was last year that the Sea Shepherd threatened to ram the whaling ship with a bulldozer on the front of their ship; they have been branded environmental terrorists.
"Those two countries maintain the same position as Japan does against the violent action of terrorists," spokesman Hideki Moronuki told ABC Radio.
"[We] need support from those two countries in order to secure the safety of our crews and (our ships)."
But the captain of Sea Shepherd's two vessels, Paul Watson, said he had the law on his side because whale hunting was illegal.
"They're targeting endangered species in a whale sanctuary in violation of a global moratorium on whaling.
"If Japan reacts violently to us, causes any injury at all to any of our people, that will backlash very severely on Japan because Japan is the criminal nation here," he said.
Japan says that they hunt whales for scientific research, which means they can kill 1,000 a year, but Migaloo fans just hope that he isn't one of them.