The story of a Japanese whaling crew attacked and eaten by a school of killer whales that supposedly left 16 people dead, has been called out as a hoax.
Reportedly sourced from the Japanese government, the story was published by the World News Daily Report, and despite its apparent 237,083 shares on Facebook, neither the story nor its popularity added up.
"A Japanese whaling crew has fallen victim to a dramatic full on assault by a school of killer whales, killing no less then [sic] 16 crew members and injuring 12, has reported [sic] the Japanese government this morning," the introduction read.
According to the story, Japan’s primary whaling vessel, the MV Nisshin Maru, described as "the world’s only whaler factory ship", suffered a gas leak while carrying "1,000 tons of oil" that led the crew to abandon safety procedures and leap off the boat into the sea.
The crew members were then "ferociously attacked" by a school of killer whales where the ship had been sailing, which happened to be the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary – a "controversial" area to be whaling in, the article suggested, considering that in March this year Japan’s government-subsidised scientific whaling programme in the Southern Ocean was found to be illegal by an international court.
This was, perhaps, the hook for the satirical piece, which quoted Greenpeace as saying: "It seems that Japan just doesn’t give a damn about international law. 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."
Despite the various markers that the story was more than playful, it didn’t stop some anti-whaling readers from rejoicing in the news. The story’s actual Facebook shares numbered around 450, with varying comments. One person wrote: "Too bad the Whales couldn't have sunk the KILLING SHIP--Japan was breaking international law Now maybe they will be held accountable and stopped," with others writing "What goes around comes around," and "Whoa… if that’s not karma, I don’t know what is! Awesome".
A quick surf around the publication’s site however, gives the impression that World News Daily Report is not something that covers factual news. Headlines such as "Alien Abduction Cases Soar in Cape Town, South Africa," and "Bengali Man Pregnant with Twins," or "Moldova: Tobacco-Free Cigarettes Highly Popular with Children," give its intentions away somewhat.
Not to mention the disclaimer carried on its site, calling it a "news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real name, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within worldnewsdailyreport.com are fiction, and presumably fake news".