MV Nisshin Maru
MV Nisshin MaruReuters

Reports which claim that members of a Japanese whale hunting crew were eaten alive by a pod of killer whales on Monday are a hoax.

According to the hoax that has been doing the rounds on social media websites, a pod of killer whales brutally attacked a Japanese whaling crew onboard the MV Nisshin Maru, which is Japan's chief whaling vessel and the world's only whaler factory ship.

It was reported that a member was eaten alive in the attack, while another 15 were also killed. The incident reportedly took place in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, South Eastern Coast of South Africa.

The news originated from a story by The World News Daily Report, which turns out to be a satirical website. The disclaimer on the site states: "All news articles contained within are fiction, and presumably fake news."

"It was horrific. The water was red with blood, there were bodies everywhere," the report quoted Asuka Kumara, a mechanical engineer who witnessed the shocking incident.

According to the hoax, the crew members of MV Nisshin Maru were forced to jump into the sea following a gas leak onboard the vessel. The report suggested that several members of the vessel jumped out in panic, without taking emergency evacuation procedures.

The whale attack, which followed, reportedly lasted for over 30 minutes. 16 crew members were killed, while another 12 were injured.

The satirical article also stated that the Japanese whaling vessel's presence in the South Eastern Coast of South Africa was in violation of the United Nation's International Court of Justice order, which had banned Japan from taking up commercial whaling activities.

"It seems Japan just doesn't give a damn about international laws. The waste of life is always a shame, but the whales are not to blame here, they were only doing what they are born to do: kill for food," the report quoted James Ben Shahali, environmental activist and spokesman for Greenpeace Canada.

The hoax seems to have been an attempt to cash in on the controversy around whale hunting in Japan. The country has come under severe criticism over allegations that it is continuing with the whaling practices in the guise of carrying out scientific expeditions.