150+ whales found beached in Ibaraki, similar to what happened before 2011 Tohoku earthquake

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RocketNews 24:

A little over four years ago, a week before the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, 50 melon-headed whales were found beached in Ibaraki Prefecture, only about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the earthquake’s epicenter.

Now the same omen of bad things to come has happened again. On April 9, about 150 melon-headed whales were found beached in Ibaraki Prefecture. As emergency teams race to save the whales, one thought is sitting in the back of their minds: is this foreshadowing another giant earthquake?

On April 9, more than 150 melon-headed whales (a type of dolphin) were found beached across a stretch of four kilometers (2.5 miles) of shoreline in Hokotashi City, Ibaraki Prefecture. Most of the whales were in critical condition, though the Ibaraki coast guard has been busy returning those still alive to the ocean. The ones that were too weak to be returned were euthanized.

The reason behind the mass beaching is still unknown, but it is suspected to be due to underwater tremors. Since melon-headed whales tend to prefer deeper waters, they would be more sensitive to plate/tectonic changes than other undersea mammals.

This has people worrying about another earthquake on the same or even higher level as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. There is a theory that beached whales are often a sign of undersea tremors, and the severity of the incoming earthquake can be estimated by how many whales are beached. The coast guard reported that while every year some amount of whales are found beached on the shoreline, this incident is by far the most that they have ever encountered.

The city where the beaching took place, Hokotashi City, has started to take emergency measures against the predicted earthquake and tsunami. It is unclear whether the surrounding areas are preparing as well, but they should seriously consider it. To all our readers in the area, be safe and stay alert for any warnings!

Japan whaling ships return home from Antarctic with no catch

The Japan Coast Guard patrols Ayukawa port as a whaling fleet departs from Ishinomaki City on April 26, 2014

France 24:

Japanese whaling ships returned home from the Antarctic on Saturday for the first time in nearly 30 years with no catch onboard, after a UN court ordered an end to their annual hunt, local media reported.

The two ships — the 724-ton Yushinmaru and the 747-ton Daini (No 2) Yushinmaru — arrived at a port in western Shimonoseki city, a major whaling base.

It was the first return by Japanese whalers without catching any whales since 1987 when the country began the annual “research” hunt in the Antarctic, the Asahi Shimbun said.

The two ships did not face any attacks by anti-whaling activists during their three-months voyage, the daily added.

Tokyo had said this season’s excursion would not involve any lethal hunting. Harpoons normally used in the capture of the giant mammals were removed from the vessels. Crew members on the two boats carried out “sighting surveys” and took skin samples from the huge marine mammals, news reports said.

The non-lethal research came after the International Court of Justice — the highest court of the United Nations — ruled in March last year that Tokyo was abusing a scientific exemption set out in the 1986 moratorium on whaling.

The UN court concluded Tokyo was carrying out a commercial hunt under a veneer of science.

After the ruling, Japan said it would not hunt during this winter’s Antarctic mission, but has since expressed its intention to resume “research whaling” in 2015-16.

In a new plan submitted to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and its Scientific Committee, Tokyo set an annual target of 333 minke whales for future hunts, down from some 900 under the previous programme. It also defined the research period as 12 years from fiscal 2015 in response to the court’s criticism of the programme’s open-ended nature.

By collecting scientific data, we aim to resume commercial whaling,” agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters in the city as he attended a ceremony for their return.

Japan killed 251 minke whales in the Antarctic in the 2013-14 season and 103 the previous year, far below its target because of direct action by conservationist group Sea Shepherd.

Despite widespread international opprobrium, Japan has continued to hunt whales using the scientific exemption, although it makes no secret of the fact that the meat from the creatures caught by taxpayer-funded ships ends up on dinner tables.

Video

Monster-sized unidentifiable creature dug up in Vietnam (whale?)

A monstrous creature that was just dug up over in Vietnam, a massive worm-like monster that looks like something out of a Syfy original film. But this isn’t a bad case of CGI we’re dealing with here. This is real life.

Japanese news site Karapaia posted video and images of the excavation last week, which show Vietnamese citizens watching on as the giant creature is hoisted up and loaded onto a trailer. The explanation most media outlets have provided? It’s no monster, but rather your average ordinary whale.