Japan kills 333 whales for 'research', 122 were pregnant

A minke whale in Antarctica.
A minke whale in Antarctica. Photo credit: Supplied

More than 330 minke whales have been killed in Japan waters for what the country says is 'research' - and 122 of them were pregnant.

The whales were hunted under the cover of the country's 'scientific whaling programme' during the 2017/18 summer season. More than 100 of the whales killed were "immature", according to a report released by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

The animals, although hunted for 'research' purposes, will ultimately be sold for their meat, The Independent reports, with critics saying the science aspect is simply a front.

Two vessels set out to sea for the summer period, equipped with whaling cannons - weapons which fire spears at the animals at high velocity. In this case, the cannons were fitted with 30g penthrite grenades.

The hunters targeted 344 whales in total, but 11 escaped under the cover of ocean ice.

After being killed the animals were taken on board the boats, where their measurements and stomach contents were recorded, the IWC says.

Japan has signed the IWC's whale hunting moratorium and has pledged not to kill whales for commercial purposes since 1985.

Newshub.