Less than two weeks after receiving charges of serving endangered whale meat, the Hump restaurant at Santa Monica Airport announced that it has closed its doors.

The restaurant said in a statement that it shut down effective March 20th as a “self-imposed punishment” after 12 years in business. The closure came after Typhoon Restaurant, Inc., the parent company of the Hump, and chef Kiyoshiro Yamamoto were charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office with illegally selling a marine mammal product for an unauthorized purpose.

The case was uncovered through a “sting” operation organized by marine mammal advocates and producers of the Academy Award-winning documentary “The Cove” in which undercover customers were served whale meat by the restaurant on three occasions, according to the complaint. The customers retrieved some samples that were tested by scientists who determined that the meat was that of the Sei, an endangered whale species, the complaint stated.

In a statement on its Web site, the restaurant apologized and acknowledged that the charge of selling whale meat was true, saying it hoped to again earn the trust of customers. But a little over a week later, the Hump owners decided it was time to close.

“The Hump hopes that by closing its doors, it will help bring awareness to the detrimental effect that illegal whaling has on the preservation of our ocean ecosystems and species,” said the restaurant statement.

In addition to facing a fine yet to be determined, the owner of the Hump plans to take additional action to help save endangered species, such as making a substantial contribution to organizations dedicated to marine mammal preservation.

The Santa Monica City Council asked the city attorney and city manager to review the Hump’s business license and lease before the decision was made by the restaurant to close its doors.

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