Latest World News

Minke whale dies at research facility in Norway


The hearing ability of whales is to be researched in a test facility on the Lofoten Islands – now a minke whale has died there. Whale conservationists have criticized the research project from the start.

A minke whale has died in a test area at a research institute in Norway. The plant in the sea of ​​the Lofoten archipelago was hit by strong winds and tidal currents – the researchers discovered the dead whale when they wanted to assess the damage, according to the research institute of the Norwegian Ministry of Defense (FFI). The animal got caught in a barrier net and drowned.

The accident affects the entire research team very much, explained FFI chief researcher Petter Kvadsheim. The Norwegian-American research program has been stopped for the time being.

Whale hearing tests

The facility examines the hearing ability of marine mammals. The storm occurred during the preparations for this year’s tests. “The fact that we lost a minke whale before the start of this year’s trials because the test facility was damaged in a storm is the worst that could have happened,” said Kvadsheim.

According to the institute, the knowledge gained during the tests should help to set limit values ​​for man-made marine noise. Whales rely on sound wave communication as they migrate through the oceans – noise from ships, drilling rigs and other human sources stresses the animals and can lead to disorientation.

The whales in Lofoten are to be intercepted with nets. After a few hours, they are to be released again.

Sharp criticism of project – animals came from the wild

But the research project, which was planned to last four summers, was criticized from the start, because the test whales are not animals born in captivity, but are captured from the wild for a few hours and subjected to the tests. For this purpose, barrier nets were stretched in the sea to intercept the animals.

In May 2021, the whale protection organization Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) called on behalf of dozens of researchers for the tests to be stopped due to concerns about stress and injuries.

The organization criticized that a cruel and senseless experiment had cost the life of a whale before the actual start of the test phase. “This loss is incredibly sad and unnecessary,” said Astrid Fuchs of WDC Germany. “We hope that the Norwegian government will take the right steps and immediately revoke the permits for this year’s test season.”