Blue whales reach up to 33 meters (108 feet) in length, and have been protected by the International Whaling Commission since 1966, after uncontrolled and illegal commercial whaling left their populations on the brink of extinction.
An Icelandic whaling company has been accused of slaughtering an endangered blue whale in a "deplorable act", provoking anger and condemnation from the worldwide marine conservationist community.
The animal rights campaigners Hard To Port published photos of the whale landing in Hvalfjörður.
In a statement released on July 11, Sea Shepherd said they had contacted several scientific experts specializing in whale identification and came to the conclusion that "The whale is without question a blue whale".
Kristjan Loftsson, the managing director of Hvalur, said he was certain it was not a blue whale. Although an global moratorium has placed catch limits at zero for blue whales, Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation all objected to that provision.
Sea Shepherd UK chief operating officer Robert Read demanded DNA samples be taken from the Hvalur 8's equipment, meat stocks, and storage to prove it illegally killed a blue whale.
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Dr Phillip Clapham from NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Centre said: "It has all the characteristics of a blue whale; given that - notably the coloration pattern".
It is believed there are maximum of 25,000 blue whales in the world and only five hybrids have been in identified in Iceland since 1986. HSI noted the features of a blue whale are a darker belly, all black baleen and bluish colour.
"The killing of such a majestic creature, blue whale or hybrid, represents a significant crime against nature, given the rarity of these species and the threats to their survival today".
"Iceland's whaling is rogue and archaic and should command diplomatic criticism at the highest levels". "We see them in the ocean". One has not been slaughtered for more than 50 years.
Experts claim it is a blue whale, a protected species which has not been harpooned by anyone for the last fifty years.
Nicole Beynon of Humane Society International Australia said: "Killing a blue whale is unforgivable". Prior to the catastrophic commercial whaling of the 20 century it is estimated that there were in the region of a quarter of a million blue whales, but their populations crashed in the 1950s and 60s.
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