Blue whale SLAUGHTERED by Icelandic hunters - ‘UNACCEPTABLE TRAGEDY’

Speaking from his home in Iceland, Kristjan Loftsson also said Australia should resume hunting whales in order to prevent strandings and danger to shipping traffic.

Phillip Clapham, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Alaska Fisheries Science Centre, said: "While I can't entirely rule out the possibility that this is a hybrid, I don't see any characteristics that would suggest that".

Heart-breaking photos have emerged appearing to show that hunters in Iceland killing a rare blue whale, which are protected after they almost became extinct due to commercial whaling.

"There is nearly no possibility that an experienced observer would have misidentified it as anything else at sea".

"Photographs point to the fact that it's a hybrid whale and we're nearly certain that it is one, but we can't be sure until autumn when we get it DNA tested", he said, according to ABC News.

Whalers are accused of illegally killing the first blue whale in over 50 years.

If it is a blue whale, it will be the first time a member of that species has been harpooned in half a century. Humane Society International's Senior Marine Scientist, Mark Simmonds OBE, believes the whale to be a juvenile blue whale or, conceivably, a rare fin whale-blue whale hybrid.

An image taken by a conservation group shows an Icelandic company processing a killed whale.

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"There are a lot of blue whales off the Iceland coast, when we see the blows and sail to it, and we realise it is a blue and then we leave it and go and look for fin whales".

Sea Shepherd, an worldwide anti-whaling organization, condemned the Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf on July 11, claiming they illegally slaughtered an endangered blue whale.

Photographs and video taken by the Sea Shepherd UK team near the whaling station allowed them to examine the species identifying indicators of skin color/pattern, baleen color, dorsal fin shape and tail stock.

While blue whales are protected, there is no designated status for hybrid blue-fin whales because they are typically extremely rarely encountered.

A blue whale - the largest animal to have ever lived - has not been deliberately caught since 1978, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

"This man must be stopped from ruthlessly violating worldwide conservation law and bringing such disrepute to the nation of Iceland".

"Iceland's whaling is rogue and archaic and should command diplomatic criticism at the highest levels".

Loftsson's whaling station crew posed for photos next to and on top of the whale.

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