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Last Updated: Thursday February 07 2008 15:31 GMT

Whale hunt pictures spark new row

Two whales at the centre of the row

The row over Japan's whale hunt has flared up again after the Australian government released bloody films of minke whales being killed.

Australia claims the footage shows a harpooned mother and her calf being dragged on board the Japanese ship.

It plans to use the pictures in a legal battle to put a stop to the whaling.

But the people in charge of whaling in Japan said the whales were not a mother and calf, and said the killing was necessary for scientific purposes.

Last year, Japan faced international criticism over its plans to kill endangered humpback whales in the Antarctic as part of its annual whale hunt.

It later abandoned plans to kill humpbacks but said it would still kill about 1,000 other smaller whales for scientific purposes.

Whale quiz
A humpback whale

But the Australian environment minister, Peter Garrett, claimed the pictures proved the hunt wasn't for scientific reasons.

Japan's Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR), which carries out the whale hunt, accused Australia of spreading "false information".

The ICR said the minke whales were both female and one was smaller than the other, but they were definitely not mother and baby.

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