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TOKYO - Japan killed 251 minke whales during the 2014 Antarctic hunt, in what is expected to be the last "research whaling" mission in the Southern Ocean after an international court ruling. Minke whale. Credit: Getty Creative According to data released by Japan's Fisheries Agency on Tuesday, the catch was more than double last year's tally of 103 minke whales, but much smaller than the target of 935. The whalers caught no fin whales during the hunt, which ran between January 3 and March 13, the agency said. Japan is a signatory to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which bans commercial hunting, but has insisted its operation was research -- even though it acknowledged the meat...

OSLO - Norway maintained on Tuesday its quota of previous years to hunt up to 1,286 whales in its waters in 2014, despite whalers repeatedly catching less than the limit. Credit: AFP/Getty Images "This year too, we have decided on a quota which guarantees continuity and a good framework for the whaling sector," Fisheries Minister Elisabeth Aspaker said in a statement. Norway formally objected to the 1986 commercial whaling moratorium and does not consider itself subject to it. The Scandinavian kingdom and Iceland are the only countries in the world to hunt whales for commercial purposes. Both nations argue that the whale species they hunt have a sufficiently large population to not be...

THE HAGUE - The United Nations' top court on Monday ordered Japan to end its annual Antarctic whale hunt, saying in a landmark ruling that the programme was a commercial activity disguised as science. The Hague. Credit: Associated Press Tokyo said it would honour the ruling shortly after it was handed down at the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ), but did not rule out the possibility of future whaling programmes. "Japan shall revoke any existent authorisation, permit or licence granted in relation to JARPA II (research programme) and refrain from granting any further permits," ICJ presiding judge Peter Tomka ordered. Tokyo was accused of exploiting a legal loophole in the...

THE HAGUE - The UN's top court will rule Monday whether Japan has the right to hunt whales in the Antarctic, in an emotive case activists say is make-or-break for the giant mammal's future. Credit: Getty Editorial Australia in 2010 hauled Japan to the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Tokyo of exploiting a loophole by hunting whales as scientific research, despite a 1986 ban on commercial whaling. Australia has asked the world court to order Japan to stop its JARPA II research programme and "revoke any authorisations, permits or licences" to hunt whales in the Southern Ocean. During hearings last year, Australia accused Japan of doing nothing more than "cloaking...

A whale has just broken the world's record for holding its breath under water, having completed dives that last for over two hours and reach nearly 2 miles below the ocean's surface. Cuvier's beaked whale. Credit: Associated Press The new record holder is the Cuvier's beaked whale, according to a study in the latest issue of the journal PLoS ONE. This species is a deep-water master, preferring to swim and hunt at depths greater than 3,300 feet. RELATED: New Deep Diving Whale Discovered "It's remarkable to imagine these social, warm-blooded mammals actively pursuing prey in the darkness at such astounding depths, literally miles away from their most basic physiological need: air," lead...