When sea-urchin gonads become boring, jaded palates yearn for something more exotic -- such as the $60 morsels of endangered whale allegedly served up at a pricey Santa Monica sushi joint last week.
If The Hump restaurant wasn't world famous before its run-in with Oscar-winning filmmakers, it's having trouble avoiding the spotlight after the New York Times reported on the investigative exploits of the team that made "The Cove," a documentary about the annual slaughter of thousands of dolphins by a Japanese village. After receiving a tip, the film's associate director helped organize an undercover video operation, with animal activists playing diners. According to an affidavit by an agent with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the activists slipped the meat into plastic bags and shipped it to a marine mammalogist, who confirmed that the flesh was that of the endangered sei whale, a leviathan that grows to about 50 feet in length. Federal agents joined the team last week, when the filmmakers were in town for the Academy Awards, for another visit to the restaurant during which whale meat was ordered -- and allegedly served. The restaurant apparently didn't bother with code words, either. On both occasions, the server wrote "whale" on the receipt, according to the affidavit.