GCSE Gateway Science Suite
Science in the News B2 Should whale hunting be banned?

Two tonne whale in the River Thames

Eating whale meat

© Jeremy Sutton Hibbert/Rex Features © Bruno Vincent/Getty Images 2006

After World War II there was a shortage of food in Japan. Astonishment! Disbelief! Cheering and clapping! This was the welcome for the first Northern Bottle Nosed Whale to be seen in the River Thames. Newspapers had endless pages about the whale. TV channels throughout the world showed live pictures. Millions of people around the world were interested in the whale. Someone said, “Something like this brings hundreds of people together in a spirit of friendliness I haven’t seen since England won the World Cup!” The whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) should have been in the Atlantic diving to a depth of about 1000 metres while hunting for squid. Instead it was 40 miles up a rather narrow, shallow, and very busy river. It should have been in a family group or with a small group of adolescent whales. It is possible that the navigation system of the whale failed. This may have been caused by illness or interference from the sonar used by ships. Despite an enormous effort to save the whale by lifting it onto a barge, it died. This upset thousands of people. The rescue attempt cost an estimated £100 000.
Adapted from Michael McCarthy, Fears grow for two-ton whale seen in Thames, The Independent, 21 January 2006

However whale numbers had increased during the war since no whaling had taken place. So whale meat was issued under rationing in Japan. The Japanese ate whale meat as a source of protein whether they liked it or not! School meals were introduced in Japan in 1947. Whale meat was the only meat in school meals until about 1955. The whale meat was not expensive and large numbers of nutritious meals could be produced. In 1947, about 47% of Japanese animal protein consumption was whale meat. In 1964, this figure had dropped to 23%. In recent years, the figure is estimated to be less than 2%. Several regions of Japan still have traditional customs of serving whale meat at weddings, and other ceremonies.

Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations


Science in the News B2 Stimulus material

www. Since whales have an extremely large brain. Hunting of the Blue whale has been banned for over 20 years yet there is little sign of population recovery. and are mammals showing maternal care. Scientific whaling catches This chart shows the total permitted whale catches by Japan. The Grey Whales off California now respond to these boats and come to the surface. their reproduction is a slow process. Gestation (pregnancy) can be almost a year. In 1982. Norway and Japan hunted the most whales. They may not become pregnant for another 5 years. have the capacity for a song language. Japan also objected to the moratorium and hunted almost 4 000 whales in the next two years. since it seemed to have produced little useful scientific information. Iceland. Thousands of tourists now go on whale watching tours. Whale survival is made difficult by increasing chemical pollution of the seas. Britain.The International Whaling Commision This commission was set up in 1946 to try to regulate whaling activities and to protect endangered whale species. whale Greenland Right whale Blue whale Humpback whale Grey whale estimated population 1 500 5 000 12 000 22 000 Since whales have a long life span. There was a brief recovery in numbers in the Will the whale populations recover? Commercial whaling stopped during the years of World War II (1939-45). Denmark. Norway. At this time America. In 1960 the population of the Blue Whale had been reduced to less than 1% of its total 100 years before. but by 1970 the whale populations had sunk to danger levels. The over fishing of the whales’ food has also had an impact on their numbers. Iceland. • • • • Most countries accepted the moratorium and stopped whaling Norway objected and continued whaling Whaling for research was allowed Whaling for food in small communities such as the Innuits in Canada was allowed. Japan then replaced its commercial whaling activities with scientific whaling. the Commission issued a “moratorium” on commercial whaling. Current levels for many whales is still low. However. Korea and Russia 1400 1200 1000 Number of permitted catches 800 600 400 200 1980/81 1981/82 1982/83 1983/84 1984/85 1985/86 1986/87 1987/88 1988/89 1989/90 1990/91 1991/92 1992/93 1993/94 1994/95 1995/96 1996/97 1997/98 1998/99 1999/00 2000/01 2001/02 2002/03 2003/04 2004/05 0 Japan withdraws objection to moratorium Moratorium comes into effect year Source: IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare). The moratorium (ban) meant that no whales should be hunted at all. some scientists wonder who is watching who! Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations 2 Science in the News B2 Stimulus material . whale watching is increasingly popular world wide. Some scientists doubted the value of this research.ifaw.

lives off body fat in winter longest distance of migration of any mammal (20 000km) makes extraordinary “songs” lasting for hours extensively hunted through history very fast swimmer. Source: OCR Single Award D (Pilot) Student Material. only 1. This means they are in danger of extinction as finding a mate and reproducing is difficult. one estimate is 211 years unknown North Pacific Ocean Humpback whale Northern Right whale Sei whale Southern Right whale Vaquita Atlantic and Pacific Oceans Northern Hemisphere worldwide Southern Hemisphere Gulf of California up to 80 years unknown up to 75 years unknown unknown Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations 3 Science in the News B2 Stimulus material .Why were whales hunted? Whale meat was only one product from whales. even bigger than any dinosaur.5 metres long only a few hundred individuals left Fin whale or Common Rorqual Greenland Right whale or Bowhead whale Grey whale worldwide unknown only in Arctic over 100 years. up to 50 km/h extensively hunted through history very small. Ca2 Choices © Harper Collins Whales in danger The table shows species of whales that are endangered. There are low numbers of these whales. migrates is the second largest animal in the world eats krill (small shrimps) in summer. species Blue whale distribution worldwide lifespan up to 110 years general information biggest and heaviest animal ever to have lived on Earth.

• You have to decide and write about how reliable and valid the data is. punctuation and grammar. • You should look very carefully at the data you have been provided with and the information you have collected. How do I do my research? • You have been given some background information about the topic. What do I have to do? • Produce a report of up to 800 words on this topic. • You should try to highlight any of the social. • At the end of your report you should answer the question and try to justify your decision. • You can use pictures. How long do I have to do it? • You will have about one week to do the research and then lesson time to write up the report. • Your report will be assessed by your teacher out of 36 marks. or if you prefer you can produce an audio or video recording. economic or environmental factors involved in this topic. • Your report will need to include a hand written or word processed appendix which lists all the sources of data you have used. • You should look for. • When carrying out your research make sure that you keep a careful record of where you get your information from because you will need to list this information at the end of the report in an appendix. How will my work be marked? • Your teacher will mark it using guidance from OCR. Is this the only Science in the News Topic in my GCSE Science Course? • There are other topics during the course. graphs and tables to help anybody to understand the points you are making. • You should then write about the facts that you have found out. and then describe. • You should make sure that the information is written down clearly and logically. • You may do more than one but only the best will count. • You will find it gives you some data to help you write your report but you will need to decide what other facts you want to find out before you write your report.Advice to Students Should whale hunting be banned? What do you think? Your report on this topic may form part of your Skills Assessment for your GCSE Science. • Your report may be hand written or word processed. and why they are important. This is important in answering the question. any patterns in the data. diagrams. Good Luck with producing your report! Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations 4 Science in the News B2 Stimulus material . • You should always try to use correct spelling. What do I need to put in my report? • At the start you should explain what facts you tried to find out.