In a covert operation, the team behind the Academy Award-winning documentary film "The Cove" has captured video footage that they say proves a popular California sushi bar illegally sold whale meat, according to a New York Times report.
Here is the menu at the sushi bar, called the Hump. (Credit: Joe Jones)
And what the team says was sold.
(Sei whale; Credit: NOAA)
Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the
United States attorney for the Central District of California, told the NYT that the restaurant was being investigated and charges against it could be filed this week.
“This isn’t just about saving whales,” Louie Psihoyos told the Times, "but about saving the planet." Psihoyos is the director of “The Cove,” which focused on dolphin hunting.
Word got out that the Hump was serving whale, so Psihoyos and his colleagues sent in two vegan animal activists wearing small hidden cameras. The resulting video, not yet released to the public, captured a waitress serving what she called "whale," which looked like thick pink slices. The vegans took bites, looked revolted, and then placed the meat into a plastic bag that was then tucked away into a purse.
Scott Baker, associate director of Oregon State University's Marine Mammal Institute, later analyzed the meat and determined it belonged to a Sei whale, which is endangered, but still hunted by the Japanese.
Baker told the Times that he was "pretty shocked" by the discovery. Although Japanese fish markets sell whale meat, he said he didn't believe, until now, that it was being served in American restaurants.
Whale meat is sold at the Tsukiji fish market in Japan.
The Hump has hired Gary Lincenberg, a lawyer, to handle queries, but he's just saying they are looking into the matter and until the investigation is completed, "I don't have any other comment." If convicted, those responsible for the sale could wind up in prison for a year and be fined $20,000.
Unfortunately, many diners wish to push food limits, figuring that it's exciting and adventurous to eat an endangered animal. Restaurants in Japan can still put whale on their menus, encouraging visitors, such as those featured in the below clip, to try it.