By WIETSE VAN DER WERF

IMAGE: Kevin Wallace
IMAGE: Kevin Wallace/The Indypendent

Whales are the gentle giants that live in the oceans. Around Antarctica they search for food and in the Pacific Ocean they raise their young. Some whales, like the Blue Whale, are the largest animals ever to have lived on this planet.

A lot of people feel that it is important to protect whales. Even though the International Whaling Commission banned whale hunting in 1986, a group of whaling ships from Japan still kills whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. A sanctuary is a place where you are not allowed to kill animals or damage the environment.

The Japanese government says it kills whales for scientific research, but many people believe they sell them to countries where people still like to eat whale meat. Governments have done very little to protect whales properly.

Instead, organizations like Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd have taken action to stop whaling. Sea Shepherd puts its ships in the way of the whaling ships and has managed to block the paths of the whaling ships and stop the killing.

During one of these actions, the activist ship Ady Gil was rammed by a Japanese harpoon ship and it sank on January 6, 2010. No one was hurt. The incident brought international media attention to the ongoing killing of whales. An activist from Sea Shepherd said, “We believe it is important to protect whales, as some of these magnificent creatures are in danger of disappearing forever if we don’t take steps to protect them now.”