Whale harpooned, hauled in by Japanese boat in front of whale-watching tourists
SAPPORO -- Eco-tourists on a whale-watching vessel, looking forward to observing the mighty creatures in their natural habitat, were instead greeted by the sight of a harpooned whale being dragged in by a Japanese whaling vessel on Friday.
At about 10:44 a.m. on Friday, a whale was spotted spraying water from its blowhole near a whaling boat, about 3.5 kilometers away from the whale-watching vessel off the coast of Hokkaido's Shiretoko Peninsula. But when the vessel approached, the passengers on board found that the whalers had harpooned the Baird's beaked whale, and it was hauled in by the whaling boat about 20 minutes later.
About 20 passengers on the whale-watching vessel looked on, voicing their pity as the whale was captured. A French woman who was on the vessel with her husband reportedly said the experience made her feel ill.
There were two other whale-watching boats nearby, but one of them left after a child started crying.
The 46-year-old captain of the passenger vessel was disappointed by the incident, which took place about 14 kilometers east of Rausu Port in Hokkaido.
"It's my job to show people whales and it's the whalers' job to catch them, but I wonder how this can be avoided," he said.
One of the two whaling companies operating the whaling ship, meanwhile, filed a protest against the whale watching vessel with the Rausu town government.
"The passenger boat approached us, which was extremely dangerous. We think this could be considered dangerous sailing, and we want you to issue a warning," the protest said.