Whale Meat Isn’t a Culinary Delicacy, It’s a Federal Offense
One California chef could face up to 67 years in prison for allegedly selling the endangered animal to patrons.
by Andri Antoniades
In 2010, the activist-filmmakers behind The Cove, the award-winning documentary exposing the brutal dolphin killings in Taiji, Japan, decided that even after worldwide acclaim and an Oscar win, they weren’t finished protecting the ocean’s endangered mammals. Setting up an undercover sting operation, they revealed that a popular Santa Monica sushi restaurant, named “The Hump,” was illegally selling endangered whale meat to diners.
Their efforts initially resulted in misdemeanor charges brought against The Hump’s parent company, Typhoon Restaurant Inc., as well two of its chefs, Kiyoshiro Yamamoto and Susumu Ueda. But The Los Angeles Times reports that following a further investigation, those charges were bumped up this week to nine felony counts of importing and selling endangered sei whale meat, a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
As a result, chef Yamamoto in particular could face up to 67 years in prison…
(read more: TakePart.org) (photo: Michael Sweet/Getty)
SEND THEM TO PRISON.
Yep I remember this article, it was all over the news too. They sent in two undercover individuals to see if they were actually selling Whale meat, they asked about the subject and manager and chef both approached to ‘quietly’ discuss the matter. They were secretive about it, and only brought it out when service fell quiet. The customer had to pay up to $5,000 for a plate of Whale Sashimi. It was all captured on a small spy camera in in either’s clothes.
Kingdom of Tonga, Ha’apai, Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) breaching
Photograph by Doug Perrine, EPOTY.org/Fame/Barcroft
Fish flee the gaping maw of a Bryde’s whale, which surprised U.S. photographerDoug Perrine, who was in the middle of photographing striped marlin lured by a bait ball of sardines. In an account released with the image, Perrine said he snapped the picture while also fleeing the whale.
Sleek and lean, Bryde’s whales use their meshlike mouth plates, called baleen, to filter food as they power through the sea.
Identifying Whale Flukes
“Go home Beluga; you’re drunk!”
You may have heard the other day that there was a Beluga that taught itself to mimic human speech sounds. I use the word “speech” lightly, because it sounds more like that time Doug was trying to learn to be a ventriloquist for the school talent show*. Named NOC (No-See), the beluga had figured out how to make sounds octaves below normal beluga squeaks. Apparently, this is no easy task, and while dolphins have been taught to make human-like sounds, cases of spontaneous mimicry has never been seen before.
But there’s bad news: At the time of publication this past Tuesday, the whale has been dead for five years now. Just goes to show, you can’t hurry science. Sorry NOC.
Beluga whale ‘makes human-like sounds’
Researchers in the US have been shocked to discover a beluga whale whose vocalisations were remarkably close to human speech.
While dolphins have been taught to mimic the pattern and durations of sounds in human speech, no animal has spontaneously tried such mimicry.
But researchers heard a nine-year-old whale named NOC make sounds octaves below normal, in clipped bursts.
The researchers outline in Current Biology just how NOC did it.
But the first mystery was figuring out where the sound was coming from. The whales are known as “canaries of the sea” for their high-pitched chirps, and while a number of anecdotal reports of whales making human-like speech, none had ever been recorded.
When a diver at the National Marine Mammal Foundation in California surfaced saying, “Who told me to get out?” the researchers there knew they had another example on their hands.
Once they identified NOC as the culprit, they made the first-ever recordings of the behaviour.
They found that vocal bursts averaged about three per second, with pauses reminiscent of human speech. Analysis of the recordings showed that the frequencies within them were spread out into “harmonics” in a way very unlike whales’ normal vocalisations and more like those of humans.
They then rewarded NOC for the speech-like sounds to teach him to make them on command and fitted him with a pressure transducer within his nasal cavity, where sounds are produced, to monitor just what was going on.
They found that he was able to rapidly change the pressure within his nasal cavity to produce the sounds.
To amplify the comparatively low-frequency parts of the vocalisations, he over-inflated what is known at the vestibular sac in his blowhole - which normally acts to stop water entering the lungs.
In short, the mimicry was no easy task for NOC.
“Our observations suggest that the whale had to modify its vocal mechanics in order to make the speech-like sounds,” said Sam Ridgway, president of the National Marine Mammal Foundation and lead author on the paper.
“The sounds we heard were clearly an example of vocal learning by the white whale.”
Risso’s dolphin (by toryjk)
Risso’s dolphins are characteristically covered in scratches - the more as they get older, so mature individuals appear white - from all the scars!