Are the cetaceans targeted by Icelandic or Norwegian whalers the same ones as those that visit us year after year? (Part 3 of 3 of the “Whaling” Series)
The fin whales that visit the St. Lawrence Estuary between May and late November belong to the same population as those hunted in Iceland and Norway: the North Atlantic population, which is considered endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. One study, however, identified genetic distinctions between the Northwest Atlantic population of fin whales (designated “Special Concern” under the Canadian Species at Risk Act) and the Northeast Atlantic population. Therefore, most individuals probably only rarely cross the ocean from east to west. It is unlikely that a superstar of the Marine Park will be served in a restaurant or in a home in Reykjavik or Oslo.
The minke whales frequenting Nordic country waters and those that visit the St. Lawrence from March to December belong to the same population (North Atlantic), but are of different stocks (a term used for hunting and fishing management). Those on the east coast of Canada seem to spend their winters in the Caribbean, far from Icelandic and Norwegian whalers.
To find out more, we invite you to read the rest of the series on whaling.