National Geographic : 1975 Feb
The sea runs red with the blood of a 50-foot sperm whale, harpooned off the southwest coast near Albany (left). Peg-legged skipper and mas ter gunner Cheslyn Stubbs (right) fires the second, or killer, harpoon, which usually ends the animal's life with an explosive charge. Last of the once-widespread whaling operations in Australia, the Cheynes Beach company cap tures only sperm whales, using three chaser ships, a spotter plane, even radar and sonar to track down the canny mammals on their west erly treks along the edge of the continental shelf. The sperm whale is hunted mainly for oil; its tough, strong-tasting meat is unpalatable to humans but provides protein rich meal for animal feed. Tethered giants, a day's catch of five sperm whales flanks the ship; a boat tows two away to the proc essing plant. Australia takes some 800 sperms a year, well within In ternational Whaling Commission quotas. Many experts think sperms Western Australia, the Big Country are less imperiled than most species. Even so, the sperm remains on the endangered list of the United States. The U. S. urges a ten-year mora torium on all commercial whaling -a stand the National Geographic Society strongly supports.