We report the methods and results of molecular genetic identification of the species and, in some cases, geographical origins of whale and dolphin products purchased from retail markets and restaurants in Japan and South Korea. As reported previously (Baker & Palumbi 1994), we used the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and a portable laboratory to amplify, purify and later sequence a portion of the mitochondrial DNA control region from 16 commercial products purchased in Japan. This ‘spot check’ revealed a surprising variety of species for sale, including minke, fin and humpback whales and one or two species of dolphins sold as ‘kujira’ or whale. In the Korean survey, DNA amplifications were conducted by two of us (C.S.B. and F.C.) working with independent equipment and reagents. The two sets of DNA amplifications were returned to our respective laboratories and sequenced independently for cross‐validation. Among the total of 17 species‐specific sequences we found a dolphin, a beaked whale, 13 Northern Hemisphere minke whales (representing at least seven distinct individuals) and two whales which are closely related to the recognized sei and Bryde's whales but could not be identified as either using available type sequences. We suggest that these two specimens represent a currently unrecognized species or subspecies of Bryde's whale, possibly the so‐called ‘small‐form’ reported from the tropical waters of the Indo‐Pacific.
Molecular Ecology – Wiley
Published: Oct 1, 1996
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