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Japan develops whale-tracking satellite

Swim little Minke whales, swim!

Swim little Minke whales, swim!

Japan's whaling industry has gained another advantage in its already one-sided battle against the whales that stray into its waters. The country's space agency Nasda had developed a satellite to track tagged animals' migratory patterns through a global positioning system. The satellite will collect data from electronic transmitters in coconut-sized tags. However, environmental activists fear the satellite will be exploited by the whaling industry, which under the banner of "scientific research" has managed to exceed the limits on the number of whales it can kill. The Japanese government claims the whaling fleet killed around 20,000 cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises and whales) for human consumption in Japanese coastal waters during 2001. However, this figure does not include around 550 Minke whales killed in Antarctic and North Pacific waters. The 50kg satellite will be launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre in October.