Japanese hunters are on a spree to kill minke Antarctic whales. As per reports, more than 120 pregnant whales have been killed in Japan in a hunt which scientists in the country described as ‘scientific research’. The latest slaughterings have been officially classed as ‘biological sampling’ aiming to investigate ‘the structure and dynamics of the Antarctic marine ecosystem’. The figures show that 333 minke Antarctic whales were killed last summer alone, of which over 120 were pregnant females.

Apart from the 333 minke whales caught during the controversial 12-week expedition, 181 were female – including 53 immature ones. The figures show that of the 128 mature female whales caught in the hunt, 122 were pregnant. “Apparent pregnancy rate of sampled animals was high (95.3%) and no lactating animal was observed in this survey,” mentioned a technical report submitted to the International Whaling Commission.

As per the report, researchers set out to acquire data on the age, size and stomach contents of minke whales in the South Ocean between Australia and Antarctica. This so-called scientific research involved the killing of the whales by firing ‘harpoons with a 30g penthrite grenade’ ( (a controversial killing method that results in instant death only 50 to 80 percent of the time) into their bodies to deliver a fatal explosion.

Slaughtering the whales in this fashion was necessary, the researchers mentioned, ‘as age information can be obtained only from internal earplugs and therefore only through lethal sampling methods.’

Japan also allows whale flesh to be sold in markets and restaurants and ultimately plans to revive its commercial whaling industry. This potential profit motive, coupled with recent footage of Japanese hunters slaying whales in an Australian whale sanctuary has resulted in international condemnation of the country’s brutal hunting practices.

The attacks are ‘a shocking statistic and sad indictment on the cruelty of Japan’s whale hunt’, said Alexia Wellbelove, a senior program manager at Humane Society International.