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Found this story in the Mainichi Daily News (http://mdn.mainichi.co.jp)


15 Mar 2002
'Cruel' citizens demand bite of beached whales
OURA, Kagoshima -- Local authorities here have been flooded with calls from citizens demanding the right to eat 13 sperm whales that beached and died here during the week, the Mainichi learned Saturday.

Some Oura residents have turned up with chainsaws at the seaside area where the whales beached in the hope of cutting off some whale meat, which is regarded as a delicacy in Japan.

Whaling experts have also urged that instead of donating the skeletons to aquariums as planned, the meat and teeth of the huge mammals should be extracted for commercial purposes.

Oura Municipal Government and Fisheries Agency officials are urging people not to eat the beached whales for fear that their carcasses could be carrying diseases.

Local officials said that when over a dozen whales beached in the town in 1935 they were carved up and served to citizens to eat. Since the whales beached here earlier in the week, the government has received a number of calls from citizens wanting to know when the mammals will be dished up. Some residents armed with chainsaws turned up at the beach on Friday night in the hope of getting a prime cut.

Only 10 sperm whales may be caught each year for research purposes. Shigetoshi Nishiwaki of The Institute of Cetacean Research said whales can be enormously profitable.

Skin carries a wholesale price of more than 5,000 yen per kilogram. Tail parts cost 10,000 yen per kilogram, while the whole tail can command 2 to 3 million yen. Whale teeth are also extremely valuable for ornamental purposes, with some willing to pay over 10 million yen for a set.

Oura officials said they have received calls from fishing companies asking when the whale meat will be auctioned off or offering to pay millions of yen to take care of the carcasses, presumably to sell the meat. Officials said the companies were told the meat was not fit for human consumption.

Oura has posted guards around the dead whales to prevent people from stealing their meat.

The whale carcasses will be moved to a beach in the neighboring city of Kaseda, where they will be buried until only their skeletons remain. From there, the skeletons will be given to aquariums.

"Once upon a time people would jump for joy when a whale was beached," Oura Mayor Teruyuki Maeno said. "Now, the whales just bring trouble."
While we're at stranded whales.... :eek2:

This time it's science demanding its bite (Japantoday.com, 02-23-2002).

85 whales washed ashore on Ibaraki beach

MITO 窶 Eighty-five melon-headed whales were washed ashore Monday morning on the Hasaki beach in Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, and 32 of them were pushed back into the sea, local officials said.

The stranded whales were spotted by Hasaki town officials who joined officials from the Ibaraki Prefectural Oarai Aquarium and local firefighters in a bid to save the whales. The dead whales will be buried along the seashore, the officials said.

Aquarium officials speculated that the whales had either strayed into shallow waters while chasing prey or had lost their way because their hearing faculties were hampered by parasites.
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