What are they researching?

I just recently watched a program on the Discovery Channel called ‘Whale Wars’ (http://animal.discovery.com/whalewars) and that got me to thinking, “How in the world can anyone believe that this is research?”  Exactly what kind of research requires a factory ship designed to process whales at sea as food for human consumption?  It seems to me that true research would require, I don’t know, maybe a research vessel?  In any event, I realize that there are two sides to every story, so I did some research of my own and have this to share:

(excerpt from Wikipedia)
From 1987 to the present, Japan has been sending a fleet consisting of a single factory ship and several catcher/spotting vessels to the Southern Ocean to catch Antarctic Minke Whales under the guise of scientific research. The first research program, JARPA (Japanese Research Program in the Antarctic), began in 1987-88, when 273 Antarctic Minke were caught. The quota and catch soon increased to 330 and 440. In 2005-06 the second research program, JARPA II, began. In its first two years, in what Japan called its “feasibility study,” 850 Antarctic Minke, as well as 10 Fin Whales, were to be taken each season (2005-06 and 2006-07). The quota was reached in the first season, but due to a fire (and possibly harassment from environmental groups such as Sea Shepherd) only 508 Antarctic Minke were caught in the second. In 2007-08, because of constant harassment from environmental groups (principally Sea Shepherd), they failed to reach the quota again, with a catch of only 551 whales.

(For full entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctic_Minke_Whale)

Now, as it turns out, my research began as simply a search for a good image of an Antarctic Minke Whale eye for DJ to paint to add to our growing number of Collectible Animal Eye Pins.  So, of course the logical place to start this search was with JARPA (their official website is http://www.icrwhale.org/)

After reading about their Mission (http://www.icrwhale.org/abouticr.htm), I was drawn to the last item:
Section #7:  Other activities, part c) Analyses of data and materials collected from field surveys

I guess the ‘materials collected from field surveys’ refers to the Minke whales that Japan catches as part of their research.  Now, is it just me or does anyone else think that it would be reasonable to assume that out of the 1909 whales that Japan performed ‘research’ on over the past three years, there should be at least ONE decent picture of an Antarctic Minke whale’s eye to be found on their website?  I went through as much of their ‘Photo Library’ as possible by following links (all in Japanese I’m afraid even though they direct you to ‘Scroll down’ for English on their Photo Library page) but did not find very many photos.  I did, however, happen to come across this document http://www.icrwhale.org/pdf/081106Release.pdf .  I clicked on this since it had a ‘NEW’ icon next to it.  Not exactly what I was hoping for — but, it did tie in to aforementioned Discovery program.  I clicked on a lot of other links — mostly leading to .PDF files in Japanese — and did manage to find a fairly recent document in English:  http://www.icrwhale.org/pdf/080905BriefingNote.pdf  But, no photos — I guess I’m not looking in the right place.

Another interesting link was to the list of scientific papers arising from their research (http://www.icrwhale.org/eng/IWC48.pdf) — seems a little out of date.  And, likewise, is this the extent of their ‘current’ research available to the public — http://www.icrwhale.org/08/s/08-A-02.htm

One final thing that really interested me was their link to their ‘Comments’ page:  http://www.icrwhale.org/Comments.htm Now, as an internet architect and having been involved in the creation of many websites, I find it totally laughable that they are actually directing all ‘questions about whales and whaling’ to their webmaster!!!

Somehow I do not think I am alone in my lack of conviction that The Institute for Cetacean Research is living up to its name.

Comments are closed.