The tiny island nation in the South Pacific may open its waters to allow foreign whaling fleets.
Singing more loudly than any animal on earth, humpback whales are famous for their haunting songs and jaw-dropping acrobatics. They were hunted to the brink of extinction until a moratorium on killing them was implemented in the 1960s. But after finally rebounding in numbers, whaling nations are exploring ways to re-open the hunt. In Antarctica, Japan is targeting minke, fin and now ... humpbacks. The tiny island nation of Tonga in the remote South Pacific is a haven for the magnificent mammals. The former king was a staunch environmentalist but he died suddenly, leaving the throne to his young son. With few natural resources or other means of income, the country is considering opening its waters to foreign whaling fleets. The merits and legitimacy of "scientific" whaling by Japan and other nations is hotly debated. The iconic species is a favorite of whale watchers from Alaska to Mexico and the stage is set for an epic battle between whalers and conservationists.