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Rare white whale spotted in New Zealand

A rare white (albino) humpback whale has been spotted off the coast of New Zealand. The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DoC) whale survey sighted the whale, thought to be one of just four in the world, in Cook Strait, between the North and South Islands.

Albinism, the complete or partial absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes, is thought to have occurred in around 20 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises, but sightings are uncommon.

Read more about albino whales and dolphins.

Second hunt of the season on Faroes

Reports from the Faroes indicate that a second hunt (or ‘grind’) has taken place there. On June 29th, 20-30 pilot whales were driven into the shore by boats and slaughtered in Hvannasund on the northern island of Vidoy. The first grind of the season occurred on June 6th in Midvagur on the island of Vagar, where at least 154 pilot whales were killed.

Japan to defy international ruling and hunt whales for unproven research purposes

The Japanese government has placed itself at the centre of a potential legal and political storm by saying that it intends to restart scientific whaling in the Southern Ocean despite a new ruling by the International Whaling Commission (IWC – the body that regulates whale hunting), which states that Japan has failed to prove a case for the continued slaughter of large numbers of whales for so-called scientific research purposes.  

Captive orca dies at Marineland in Antibes, France

Freya, a female orca held captive for 32 years, has died at Marineland, a marine park in Antibes in the south of France. 

She had spent almost her entire life in captivity, since being taken from the wild off the coast of Iceland when just one year old.

During her life in confinement she gave birth to several calves. It is not known what caused her death, but in the wild a female orca would be expected for an average of 46 years and possibly much longer.

More on the fate of orcas in captivity.

Latest update on release of Belugas from Ocean World aquarium in Shanghai

WDC is continuing to work with Merlin Entertainments in an effort to find a location for a natural sea sanctuary in order to release three belugas currently housed in Merlin’s Chang Feng Ocean World aquarium in Shanghai, China.  Despite many obstacles and months of work to find a location off the coast of Russia (where the belugas were born in the wild), it has not proved possible to find a suitable location there and the search is now focussing on other potential cold water sites for the sanctuary. Finding the right site for the sanctuary is critical for the welfare of the belugas.

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