Whale Meat Sushi Got Restaurant in a Whale of Trouble

Endangered Species, that's what's for dinner!

A trendy Santa Monica Sushi Restaurant, funnily enough named "Hump", was caught selling whale.

The Hump came under fire after allegations surfaced in Tuesday's New York Times that it had served meat from an endangered sei whale, possibly straight from the trunk of a white Mercedes-Benz.

To provide evidence, federal agents and animal activists had cooperated in a video sting orchestrated by the associate producer of the Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove." ...

Teglas said they enlisted two female animal activists -- both vegans -- and used a tiny video camera to record them as they were served a $600 omakase, or chef's choice, meal at the Hump. The two activists asked whether they could get whale meat, and a waitress then served eight pieces of what she called "whale," according to an affidavit provided by the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.

The activists bagged samples of the meat and slipped them into a purse. The samples were sent to Scott Baker, associate director of the highly regarded Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University. Baker determined that the meat was sei whale.

Link (Photo: Al Seib / LA Times)

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@Sue: The summary doesn't include this, but Scott Baker did use DNA sequence data to ID the meat as Sei whale. He's been involved in many years of work to ID whale in Japanese fish markets, and has a lot of experience with DNA-based identification.
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