February 7, 2008

Australia releases grisly pictures of Japanese whaler slaying minke and her calf

The on-going dispute between Japan and Australia.

(AFP) Australia has "shocking" photographic evidence to back an international legal bid to stop Japanese whaling in Antarctic waters, the government said Thursday.

One picture showing a mother whale and her calf being dragged aboard a Japanese whaler after being harpooned was described as sickening by Environment Minister Peter Garrett.

"I guess when I saw the photos I just felt a bit of a sick feeling, as well as a sense of sadness," said Garrett, a former rock star with protest group Midnight Oil.

"It's very disappointing. It's distressing when you think that it can take up to 15 minutes after a harpoon actually hits a whale for the whale to die.

"It's even sadder when you consider there's a calf involved."

A gaping wound visible on the minke whale calf's side as it is hauled up a blood-soaked slipway into the boat was reportedly caused by an explosive-packed harpoon.

The picture was one of many taken from an Australian customs vessel tracking the whalers to build up evidence against the kill, and Customs Minister Bob Debus said the pile of "shocking images" would support legal action to stop the annual slaughter.