In July, observers perched on top of the hillside overlooking Iceland’s Hvalur fin whaling station noticed that the large whale being dragged up the slipway looked different. The whale was a mottled grayish-blue color and had a dorsal fin of a different size and shape than a fin whale’s. Experts speculated that Whale 22 (the 22nd fin whale killed in the 2018 season) might be an endangered blue whale, a species protected by Icelandic law and the International Whaling Commission. AWI joined a chorus of voices asking for an immediate DNA analysis. The government of Iceland initially stated that testing would have to wait until autumn, but later relented and released the results on July 19.
Whale 22 was determined to be a rare hybrid blue-fin whale, with a fin whale father and a blue whale mother. AWI has called on the Icelandic government to report the killing of the blue-fin whale as an infraction, and to ensure that all products from the hybrid are isolated and not processed for export.