( dpa )- Photographs taken from an Australian surveillance vessel of a whale and its year-old calf being hauled aboard a Japanese harpoon ship in Antarctica were described as sickening by Environment Minister Peter Garrett.
"When I saw the photos I just felt a bit of a sick feeling as well as a sense of sadness," the former lead singer with rock group Midnight Oil said. "It's even sadder when you consider there's a calf involved."
The gruesome images were shot from the Oceanic Viking, an Australian Customs vessel that has been tracking the whaling fleet to document the hunt in preparation for a possible legal challenge to whaling in an international court.
Garrett said the pictures the government released showed it was a nonsense for Japan to claim that it was conducting research.
"I think it's explicitly clear from these images that this is indiscriminate killing of whales," Garrett said. "To claim that this is in any way scientific is to continue the charade that surrounded this issue from day one."
Last month, two anti-whaling activists where taken hostage by Japanese whalers and freed only after the intervention of the Oceanic Viking. The pair belonged to the Sea Shepherd protest organization and were detained after they risked their lives boarding a Japanese harpoon vessel.
Lack of fuel forced Sea Shepherd to end its protest for this whaling season. The Japanese have continued their whaling programme .
Australia and New Zealand, both whaling countries until the 1970s, have taken the lead in campaigning for an end to whaling. The pair have confronted Japan over the sale of whale meat in Japanese supermarkets, which they say gives the lie to Tokyo's claim it is engaged in scientific research.