On February 19, the global community celebrates the World Whale Day. It has been celebrated since 1986, when, after 200 years of an intensive whale hunt, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) introduced a ban on commercial whaling.
People have known about whales from time immemorial. Whales were even mentioned in the Bible. Nevertheless whales still remain mysterious creatures for us in many ways. For example of all mammals only people and whales can sing. Whales’ shortest aria lasts six minutes and the longest last about 30 minutes. Scientists still fail the answer the question what whales sing about.
Commercial whaling also has a long history. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was very intensive and some of the species were almost put out of existence. People hunted whales not only for meat and oil. Whalebones were used for manufacturing of corsets and crinolines, umbrella frames and whip-handles. Even today when the commercial whaling has been banned the killing of whales continues.
In the last 25 years Japan has been implementing a so-called scientific whaling program which is led to numerous protests of ecologists. Annually Japanese whale fishers kill more than 800 whales in the waters of Antarctic and Pacific Ocean. The meat of these whales is served in Japanese restaurants and sold in local supermarkets. The Japanese people claim that whaling is part of their national culture. Norway is another country which does not follow the moratorium. However the Norwegian fishers hunt only minke whales in the north east of the Atlantic Ocean. The volumes of Norway’s whaling are smaller than those of Japan. The USSR had one of the most powerful whale fishing fleets. Now it has been liquidated because Russia observes the international ban on whaling, Dmitry Glazov, an expert on sea mammals, says:
"In Russia the biggest part the mammals are on the list of endangered species or it is simply banned to hunt them. Only aboriginal whaling for the needs of native people is allowed."
Obviously the volume of aboriginal whaling in the Arctic region is many times smaller than the volume of whaling in Japan. Only the hunt for white whale limited by quota is allowed. White whales can be found only in coastal waters of Russia. From there they are delivered to oceanariums all over the world. In Russia there is a program of observation of grey whales and while whales in their natural environment, Glazov continues:
"First of all it is the study of their number. For this purpose scientists use aircraft with special equipment. We fly around the coast watching the seam mammals fro the plane."
Apart from aircraft scientists use satellite transmitters are used. For example, last summer a scientific expedition to Sakhalin was organized. Researchers fixed transmitters on 12 grey whales. Grey whales are known for the long distance swimming. Annually they make 10,000 km long trips from the Arctic Ocean via the Bering Strait along the Aleutian Islands and the US Pacific coast to the Mexican peninsula Lower California. These research program are sponsored by the Russian Geographical Society under the auspices of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. By the way Putin personally took part in the White Whale Programme. In the Sea Of Okhotsk the Prime Minister personally fixed a transmitter on the white whale named Dasha.