Published: Sunday 31 March 2002

More than 50 melon-headed whales were found washed ashore and dead on a beach to the northeast of Tokyo, even as rescuers were striving to save 32 more by releasing them into the sea in a nearby port.

The carcasses of the whales are being examined. "They may have got lost while chasing prey, or there may be some illness involved," an official at the prefectural fisheries department said.

For the Japanese, whale meat is a delicacy. However, due to a ban on commercial whaling it has become very expensive. The whale meat that ends up in the market comes from Japan's controversial scientific whaling programme.

Although the dead whales were eaten by the locals living in the vicinity, a fisheries official said, "In principle we don't think it's a good idea to eat them, as they may have been sick."

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.