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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...

Microphones submerged in the waters of the Bering Strait recorded an increasing number of whale calls from 2009 to 2012, including some from whales that normally live further south. The whales may have expanded north as the Arctic warmed and the animals' populations recovered from hunting. The increase in whale numbers coincided with more ship traffic in the region. More shipping could lead to whales being injured or killed in collisions and interfere with whale communications. RELATED: New Deep Diving Whale Discovered Along with native Arctic whales including belugas and bowheads, the microphones recorded the songs of sub-Arctic whales, such as humpbacks, minkes, fins and orcas....

Daily GIFs: February 17, 2014

Getting through the day can be tough, but you know what makes it easier? Adorable GIFs. Check out these furry mini-flicks floating around the Internet. It's probably the cutest way to waste time and wait for the weekend. 1. Don't worry, doors can be hard for everyone. 2. You know, they say yawning is contagious. 3. Help get me out first and I'll come back for you. I promise. 4. Backflips should only be attempted by those at the expert level. 5. Downward dog will be her next yoga pose. Get Another Dose of Adorable Animals:...

Department of Conservation rangers and volunteers spent the weekend trying to save beached whales in the town of Puponga, New Zealand. Over 40 pilot whales were found on the beaches of Golden Bay outside of the town. Credit: Flickr The DOC put out a call for volunteers to aid in the effort, and hundreds answered the appeal. The request asked for volunteers with wetsuits to bring any other gear that might assist them with their attempts. Everyone worked tirelessly to move the whales safely out to sea all through the weekend, with one last attempt also made on Monday. John Mason, the Department of Conservation services manager, was hopeful that the re-floating of the whales would be...