Volunteers race to rescue 100s of pilot whales stranded on New Zealand beach
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Japan, in its annual Antarctic hunt this year, killed a total of 333 whales, despite international condemnation over the years over the country's barbaric tradition.

Flouting a worldwide moratorium and opposition from countries like Australia and New Zealand, a Japanese whaling fleet set sail for the Southern Ocean in November with plans to slaughter hundreds of minke whales.

Reports state that the Japanese fleet consisted of five ships, which arrived in the morning at Shimonoseki port in western Japan, the country's Fisheries Agency said.

According to an official of the Shimonoseki City government, the fleet was greeted by more than 200 people, who were gathered in the rain for a 30-minute ceremony in front of the Nisshin Maru, the fleet's main ship.

The agency described the mission to kill the whales as "research for the purpose of studying the ecological system in the Antarctic Sea" in a press release. However, the International Court of Justice (IJC) called the claim a fiction and said that their real purpose of hunting these whales was for their meat.

Animal protection charity Humane Society International (HSI) has been calling for an end to the cruel tradition of Japanese whaling.

"Each year that Japan persists with its discredited scientific whaling is another year where these wonderful animals are needlessly sacrificed. It is an obscene cruelty in the name of science that must end," she said in a release,"  HSI executive vice president Kitty block said.