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Typhoon Hump Restaurant Sells Endangered Sei Whale

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Feds prosecute sushi chef Yamamoto and The Hump Santa Monica, CA, restaurant owned by Typhoon Restaurant Inc., alleging sale of endangered animal Sei whale meat.
Typhoon Restaurant Inc. owns The Hump restaurant, and sushi chef Yamamoto were charged with illegally selling an endangered animal species food product. In October, two female activists whom posed as customers went to The Hump and ordered "omakase," allowing the Hump Restaurant chef choose the choicest fresh fish. Activists additionally requested whale, pocketing the meat sample.
The meal visit was recorded by hidden camera and microphone by Louie Psihoyos, director of Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove", who stated, "these are endangered animals being cut up for dinner. It's an abuse of science." National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began an investigation. Activists claim the endangered animal whale meat came from Japan's scientific whaling program, illegally exported to the U.S. Japan kills hundreds of whales every year in Antarctic waters, through its research whaling program. Attorney for Typhoon, Gary Lincenberg, said the restaurant accepts responsibility for serving whale, agreeing to pay a fine, which could be up to $200,000.
The Hump chef for the past seven years admitted serving whale to two young women. Hump chef Yamamoto could face a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. During the October restaurant visit, animal rights activists racked up a bill of $600 during a four-hour period, feasting on increasingly exotic dishes in efforts to gain confidence of the Hump's waiters and chef. The server brought out a dish of whale sushi, identifying the whale in English and Japanese, court documents said. The dish was listed as whale on the check, $85. Oregon State University's Marine Mammal Institute, for genetic testing, returned results showed the meat was from a Sei whale, court records said.
The Sei whale is a baleen whale. The endangered whale is found throughout the world's oceans, characterized by graceful, fast swimming and long, low vocalizations. Adult Sei whales are longer than a bus. Sei whale meat is commonly eaten in Japan, Korea and Norway and among natives in Alaska and Canada, but Sei meat is illegal to export due to endangered status. Late February, when Psihoyos were in Los Angeles for the Academy Awards, two more visits were made to The Hump. Agents from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sat at the bar to witness Yamamoto at work, court records said. On subsequent visit, another agent watched the chef retrieve a package wrapped in clear plastic from his vehicle.

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