Japan backs off humpbacks

Animal activists and conservationists are keeping pressure on Japan to dispense with its whaling activities, despite the country’s recent pledge to leave humpback whales untouched.

Officials are now concentrating on the fact that Japan plans to slaughter 50 fin whales, a species more endangered than the humpback and the second-largest creatures on the planet (after the blue whale). Brought to near extinction in the ’60s, only 5,000 of the huge animals are said to roam the Antarctic Ocean today, reports The Dominion Post.

Japan’s whaling fleet left for the region in November amid much scrutiny in the international community. The country carries on the yearly hunt in the name of science, but critics say the research doesn’t hold up and note that the whales end up at the meat market. Australia’s government has sent ships to monitor the fleet and is preparing a legal challenge.