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Concluding Studies on the Failures of Electrical Lancing of Whales

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Electrocution of an animal is inhumane if it is not rendered instantaneously insensible by the application of sufficient current density within vital centres of the brain. Application of electric current which does not achieve this, is likely to cause severe pain. The humane aspects of electrical lancing have aroused widespread concern and debate.

For an electrically lanced whale of the size of those currently hunted, previous research has indicated that the current densities produced in the heart and brain are unlikely to reliably render the animal insensible or stop its heart. This study supports these findings and demonstrates that the presence of salt water/immersion may further reduce current densities. Evidence for the failure of the electric lance includes the necessity for multiple and prolonged applications of electric current.

Reasons for the failure of the electric lance include non-optimal current injection sites, insufficient current injected, the presence of salt water, and the trauma caused by the explosive harpoon. The efficacy of the electric lance may be falsely exaggerated for reasons associated with blood loss and misdiagnosis of death. All evidence clearly indicates that attempts to stop the heart by electrocution will cause severe pain to an already traumatized animal.

We suggest that the use of the electric lance is clearly inhumane, and are pleased to announce that its use in Japanese whaling operations was reportedly discontinued as from 1997.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 November 2000

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