Can you eat whales?
In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat whales?” and discuss how can you get rid of flour bugs?
Can you eat whales?
Yes, you can eat whales. Whale “meat” refers to a variety of human food products originating from various tissues of animals of the mammalian order Cetacea (i.e., whales, por- poises and dolphins (2). According to studies conducted in South Korea, about 68% of the people have already tasted whale meat at least once in their lives (1).
Concerns about Whale Meat for Human Health
Environmental toxins such as organochlorines like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides (DDT, dieldrin, chlordanes, and hexachloro- cyclohexane [HCH]) and dioxin and heavy metals, such as methylmercury, are especially harmful to whales, who are particularly prone to these pollutants (2).
The bodies of top predators, such as sperm whales, orcas, pilot whales, and false killer whales, tend to acquire each of these environmental pollutants. Whale meat from fish- and mammal-eating species such dolphins, porpoises, sperm whales, and beaked whales has been shown to be the most polluted.
Minke whales, for example, are lower in the food chain and hence have a lower concentration of pollutants in their tissues. Pesticides and PCBs have been found in minke whale blubber samples from the North Pacific.
Evidence from studies with laboratory animals and marine mammals, and evidence from studies of humans accidentally poisoned with organo- chlorines show that PCBs and organochlorine pesticides have the potential to cause adverse health effects, such as immunosuppression, endocrine disruption, reproductive and nervous system disorders, and cancer. Inorganic mercury and organic mercury (methylmercury) have been associated with nephrotoxic effects and neurological and developmental abnormalities in both laboratory animals and humans (2).
Norway, Japan, several Caribbean countries, Russia, Canada, and the state of Alaska all eat whale meat or blubber for sustenance, cultural or economic reasons. Japanese and Korean advocates of whaling have similarly argued for a need to continue the tradition of consuming whale meat (1). As part of Japan’s so-called scientific whaling program, minke whales are slaughtered and their flesh is sold as “kujira,” or “generic whale meat.”
Tests demonstrate that not all kujira is made from minke whale flesh. Dolphin, porpoise, or beaked whale flesh may be found in some of it. It’s possible that people who believe they’re avoiding harmful amounts of pollutants by eating kujira may in reality be eating meat that has very high levels of toxins.
Pregnancy and developmental abnormalities, immune system suppression, liver damage, and skin irritation are all possible side effects of PCB exposure. Certain cancer risks and neurological and reproductive issues have been linked to DDT exposure.
Dioxins have been linked to cancer, metabolic abnormalities, and immune system diseases. People who consume methylmercury are at risk for developing neurological and developmental issues. Contaminants tend to be more concentrated in blubber due to their affinity for fat, which makes them easier to bind with and even preferable to other fats.
Pregnant women in the Faroe Islands who ate pilot whale meat and blubber while pregnant were found to have children with developmental problems. Fish oils obtained from contaminated fish, if consumed in substantial quantities by infants and young children, might present potential health problems if levels are not continuously regulated. Behavioral and neurological effects have been reported in children and ascribed to the consumption of PCB contaminated diet including fish (3).
Several Inuit communities in the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic where women eat beluga whale meat and fat (as well as meat from bowhead whales, seals, and polar bears) have found health issues in infants exposed to pollutants in utero and via breast milk.
As a result of human activity, whales are no longer living in an environment that is completely free of pollution. Regardless matter how much whale flesh is consumed, it may represent a risk to human health.
What Is the Flavour of Whale?
Whale flesh has been served to diners at a sushi restaurant in Santa Monica, California, which has been accused of supplying endangered whale meat. After buying kujira, Japanese whale flesh, and putting it into their napkins for delivery to an Oregon laboratory, two activists began their study into the issue. On the receipt, the eatery classified the order as “whale.”
It resembles a reindeer or moose in appearance. Like its hairy relatives on land, a whale tastes very much like a water creature. The whale is often served as is in regions where gamey meats are popular, such as Norway, Iceland, and the indigenous inhabitants of Alaska.
Meat from baleen whales is slightly reddish and does not have a particularly strong taste or smell. On the other hand, meat from toothed whales is darker in color and has a distinct gamey flavor. In Japan, “whale meat” generally refers to the meat of the baleen whale (4).
The whale may be cured, marinated, or smeared with a tasty sauce for individuals who find its unpolished taste objectionable. In certain Japanese stores, you can buy thin slices of marbled whale bacon wrapped in a plastic bag that looks a lot like hog bacon.
Only a few lunch vans in Tokyo serve whale meat curry. Whale burgers and fish stick-like preparations are among the possible solutions being considered by Japanese schools in an effort to induce pupils to eat more meat.
There are still a few Japanese traditionalists who like their sashimi plain and simple, with no garnishes or sauces. When it comes to the whale, Seth Stevenson believes it’s a delectable beef-fish combination.
Cetacean butchery’s finer aspects have been lost to time. The muscle of the whale is often separated into two pieces in contemporary Japan, where it has become a fringe product: belly meat and tail meat.
Even in the 1980s, one of the few surviving wholesalers provided 60 distinct whale steaks, according to an 1832 whale cookbook. After a successful whale hunt, the coastal Eskimos used a spoils system that divided the catch into ten portions.
All of the tastiest parts of the tail, which is fatty and juicy went to one captain and his crew, while all of the rest went to other crews that helped with the kill and other ships that participated in the capture. Fluke meat sells for more than three times the price of belly meat in Japan (about $100 per pound).
In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat whales?” and we discussed how can you get rid of flour bugs?
- Tatar, Bradley, and Changkuk Jung. Getting to know the consumer: Toward mitigation of illegal whale meat consumption in South Korea. Marine Policy, 2018, 89, 116-123.
- Simmonds, M. P., et al. Human Health Significance Of Organochlorine And Mercury Contaminants In Japanese Whale Meat. J Toxicol Environ Health A, 2002, 65, 1211-1235.
- Smith, A. G., and S. D. Gangolli. Organochlorine chemicals in seafood: occurrence and health concerns. Food Chem Toxicol, 2002, 40, 767-779.
- Akamine, Jun. Tastes for blubber: diversity and locality of whale meat foodways in Japan. Asian Edu Develop Stud, 2020.