From Iceland — Icelandic Biologist Considers It Likely Killed Whale Is Rare Hybrid

Icelandic Biologist Considers It Likely Killed Whale Is Rare Hybrid

Published July 12, 2018

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Arne Feuerhahn

A DNA sample of the whale killed in Icelandic waters last week is currently being tested, and an Icelandic biologist believes it likely the whale is a blue-fin hybrid. Meanwhile, the party leading Iceland’s government — which ostensibly opposes whale hunting — has been silent.

As reported, Hvalur hf., the only company in Iceland which hunts fin whales, killed last weekend what appears to be either a hybrid of a fin and blue whale, or possible a blue whale in itself. While both species are protected internationally, Icelandic law is a different story.

By Icelandic law, killing a blue whale is illegal. However, killing a hybrid which may in part be a blue whale is perfectly legal, as biologist Gísli Víkingsson points out to RÚV.

“It seems from the photos as though this is a hybrid of a blue whale and a fin whale,” he told reporters. “The sixth or seventh incident of its kind that we know about in Iceland.”

A DNA sample of the whale is currently being examined at the Marine And Freshwater Research Insititute of Iceland. If it turns out to be 100% blue whale, Hvalur hf. will have broken Icelandic law; if it is some other proportion of blue whale, though, then Hvalur hf. will have only broken international law in having killed a fin whale.

The Left-Green Party, which leads Iceland’s government, has as a part of their platform expressed opposition to whale hunting, having stated in 2015 that such hunts are inhumane. However, the party has not issued any statement about this incident, which has been gaining international attention, and Minister for the Environment Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, who is from the same party, would not comment to Stundin on the matter.

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