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An Analysis of Behaviour and Killing Times Recorded During a Pilot Whale Hunt

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Abstract:

Data are presented on a number of aspects of a drive hunt of a pod of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas; Traill) which occurred in the Faroe Islands in July 1992. Empirical data collected by observers are presented on aspects of the drive and killing phase of the drive hunt. These focus on the welfare implications of the two main pieces of equipment used in the hunt the gaff and the knife. The body zone targeted by the gaff ranged from the melon to the dorsal fin. Ten of the 14 initial uses of the gaff recorded resulted in the whale being insecurely fastened and entailed further gaff strikes. Five case studies are presented of towing times, before cutting occurred but post-gaffing, when the whale was secured by the gaff to a boat (median: 66s). The number of gaff strikes on an individual whale ranged from zero to four (median: two). Fifty-seven per cent of cutting episodes using the knife were initiated behind the blowhole, 43 per cent on the whales 'flanks. Data on the sequential use of the gaff and the knife are presented for seven whales. Data are also presented on the duration of the cutting episodes for these seven whales (median: 80s) and the total time elapsed from initial wounding until loss of voluntary movement occurred (median: 126s). Certain behaviours shown by the whale after the use of the gaff and knife are discussed and analysed in the context of the physiology, anatomy and social structure of pilot whales. Conclusions are presented on a number of welfare aspects of this hunt and compared with data from other whaling operations.

Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; DRIVE HUNT; FAROE ISLANDS; KILLING EFFICIENCY; LONG-FINNED PILOT WHALE; WHALING

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1994-11-01

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