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Japan Starts Pacific 'Research' Whaling

TOKYO - A fleet of four Japanese ships left the northern main island of Hokkaido on Sunday to start the seasonal "research" whaling hunt in Pacific coastal waters, local media said. Credit: Getty Creative Japan's Fisheries Agency has said whalers planned to kill up to 51 minke whales in waters off Kushiro city through the end of October. Japan has hunted whales under a loophole in the 1986 global moratorium that allows lethal research on the mammals, but has made no secret of the fact that their meat ends up in restaurants and fish markets. Agency officials could not be immediately reached on Sunday. The smaller scale Pacific coastal whaling comes as Japan hopes to resume its Antarctic...

These children were in for a treat when they visited the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut. A beluga whale kept them entertained while making faces through the window and scaring the youngsters, much to their delight. Share this on Facebook? MORE ON PAWNATION: Coast Guard Rescues Turtle Tangled in Fishing Gear Tiny Kitten Is Afraid of Moving Carpet Dogs Celebrate End of Summer With Giant Pool Party...

California's blue whale population has recovered to near historic levels, according to a new Marine Mammal Science study. Credit: Getty Creative This is the only population of blue whales in the world known to have recovered from whaling, which almost drove the species to extinction. Blue whales are the largest animals on earth, measuring nearly 100 feet in length and weighing 190 tons as adults. PHOTOS: Sharks, Marine Mammals Hang in Paradise "The recovery of California blue whales from whaling demonstrates the ability of blue whale populations to rebuild under careful management and conservation measures," lead author Cole Monnahan of the University of Washington, said in a press...

Minutes away from Manhattan, a humpback whale was captured in a photo as it tried to swallow as many fish as possible in a dramatic feeding frenzy. Credit: Getty Editorial The image, snapped by Julie Larsen Maher of the Wildlife Conservation Society, is a reminder of how important the waters off of New York are for marine mammals and other sea life. RELATED: Best Ocean Animal Photos of 2013 "Nothing can prepare you for walking along the shore and spotting the great leap and surge of a humpback whale in the distance," journalist Dave Taft wrote in a piece for the New York Times. "The magical moment is yours alone. The Atlantic knows how to keep its secrets." Taft reminds that it's ironic...

MIAMI - US theme park operator SeaWorld said Friday it would build new, giant tanks for its killer whales, whose captivity has caused uproar and hit the company's earnings. Credit: Getty Editorial SeaWorld also pledged $10 million in funds for killer-whale research and announced a multi-million-dollar ocean health partnership, but animal rights groups were quick to savage the initiatives. The Orlando, Florida company, whose shares have hit their lowest point since going public in April 2013, has faced rising criticism since last year's release of the documentary "Blackfish." The film probed the impact of captivity on SeaWorld's orcas and the fatal 2010 attack by one of them, Tilikum, on...

GOLD COAST - Australian authorities struggled to rescue a beached baby whale Wednesday and were forced to suspend the operation as fading light hampered efforts to return it to sea. Credit: Getty Editorial The whale, reportedly a two-year-old humpback, washed up on Palm Beach on the popular Gold Coast late Tuesday, with rescuers working for hours to try and free it. Hundreds of people gathered at the Queensland beach to watch the rescue, which included fitting a specially-designed harness to the mammal as workers from marine park Sea World tried to coax it back into the water. Rescuers were able to briefly return the whale to sea before it became stuck on a sandbar slightly further...