The story spans almost 60 years and half the globe and documents the massive illegal and secret slaughter of 200,000 whales by the Soviet Union in the 1960s and the recent discovery of illegal whaling by Japan. 

Involving the KGB, secret codes, and deception at the highest levels of government, the magnitude of this whaling was only realized through the diligent efforts and bravery of a small international group of intrepid scientists. In the1990’s, the Russians confessed to secret whaling off the coasts of New Zealand and Argentina.

However, unlike the Russian government, Japan has not admitted to their deception and illegal activity. Indignant Russians strongly accuse Japan of illegal whaling. New analysis of recently uncovered archival catch records confirms the Russians’ accusations that large scale, unreported illegal whaling by Japan also occurred throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s

Japan insists that commercial whaling should be reinstated and has been “buying votes” at the IWC from other countries to try to make this

happen. At the 2018 IWC these efforts failed, yet they demonstrate Japan’s persistent efforts to reintroduce commercial whaling and their

continued struggle to garner support from a variety of other nations. Japan also continues to attempt to block any conservation measures

at the IWC. However, in 2018 important conservation measures are adopted despite Japan’s opposition. In response to their failure to reinstitute commercial whaling, Japan has recently left the IWC, effectively becoming a pirate whaling nation, leaving the fate of some sensitive whale populations at risk.

Sperm whale being processed