A Japanese environmental group launched a study of Pacific whales Thursday to show the Japanese government and whaling industry that research can be conducted without killing the sea mam-mals.

The Japanese government, which agreed to a worldwide ban on commercial whaling, is funding a controversial research hunt for 300 Minke whales in the Antarctic that began in January.Whaling industry officials have said killing the whales is necessary to determine their age, sex, birth rates and other information. The whale meat will be sold to cover some of the costs of the hunt, they said.

Darling said he uses the shape and color of whales to identify individual whales and track them over several years to determine the population and birthrate.