But Japanese Fisheries Agency spokesman Hideki Moronuki argues that killing whales is the only way to get accurate scientific data on the whale's sex, its ability to reproduce and, most importantly, its age. "The best way to get scientific information about whales is a combination of lethal and non-lethal research," he said.
"With those two researches, we can get much more information for the appropriate management of whales."
What a load of crap. Australia is voicing concern, and also countering the claims by Japan that the animals must be killed to obtain species information.
Each year as the whales migrate along the east coast of Australia, this group of scientists keep count of the whale pods en route. The real work begins when the whale breaches or launches out of the water.
The sheer weight of the hit means it often sheds flakes of skin.
Using a kitchen sieve strapped to a piece of wood, scientists scoop up what is left behind, and the DNA in the skin flakes reveal the whale's genetic make-up.
"The skin samples can give you the genetic identity of the whale, they can tell you the relationships to the other whales, who's the father, who's the mother, etcetera," Dr Harrison said.
"They can tell you the sex of the whales and when our research is complete, we'll also be able to add an age factor to that information."
Knowing an exact age of a dead whale is not nearly as valuable as an approximate age of a live whale. Shame on Japan, I'm sure this is just a cover-up for eating the whale meat.
abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/11/14/2090100.htm (external - login to view)