Nearly three hundred whales mass-slaughtered in yearly ritual by Faroe Islanders

Warning: Images below contain graphic depictions of animals being killed.

Sea turned red as the blood of the whales spilt by the Faroe Islanders in the annual ritual. On July 15, the waters off the shores of the Faroe Islands turned red with blood after nearly 300 whales were slaughtered in one evening during the yearly whaling ritual. Barbaric pictures show the sea turning red with blood as dozens of whales are slaughtered.

An estimated 800 whales are killed each year in the 1,000 year old traditional hunt (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

For 1,000 years, villagers have used fishing boats to trap whales in the bay before wading into the water to kill them by hand with knives. On the year’s first hunt, more than 250 whales were killed, campaigners said. Animals are surrounded as they migrate past the shores of the Danish province and herded toward the beach, where they are mangled to death.

According to Euronews, a pod of hundreds of pilot whales and at least 35 white-sided dolphins were caught near Hvalba, a village of 700 people on the southernmost island of the archipelago. The killings were part of the summer “Grind” or Grindadràp a Faroese tradition dating back 1,000 years that involves trapping whales around the bay.

As the tradition goes, fishermen trap the whale pods first using boats, enclosing them in the bay. Then participants in the Grindadràp head into the water themselves to kill the animals by hand using their knives.

The slaughtered whales are then brought to shore, where their meat and blubber are cut up and distributed free to local residents. According to the Faroese government website, “The larger the catch, the more people get a share of it,” though they noted that whale meat and blubber are also available to buy in some supermarkets and by the sea docks.

Sea Shepherd UK/Triangle NewsAfter the whales are killed, their meat and blubber are cut up and distributed to the local community.

The mass killing of hundreds of pilot whales made the water around the village turn blood red. Photos of the annual summer tradition featuring the mutilated bodies of the slaughtered whales as they were dragged to the shore circulated online. Activists voiced their horror, as the killings – a tradition believed to date back 1,000 years – got underway despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Horrifying images show the grim reality of last year’s hunt (file image) (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

The gory photos spawned a backlash from environmental activists namely the Sea Shepherd, an international marine wildlife advocacy organization that has campaigned to end the practice before. Pictures shared by campaign group Sea Shepherd show hunters in the water butchering the whales. The organization called the tradition “sad and barbaric.”

Return of the Bloody FjordsOn Thursday, 252 long-finned pilot whales and 35 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were killed…

Posted by Sea Shepherd Global on Monday, 20 July 2020

In a statement, Sea Shepherd said, “252 long-finned pilot whales and 35 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were killed in Hvalba last night after the huge pod was found off Sandvik.

In a statement, Sea Shepherd said, “252 long-finned pilot whales and 35 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were killed in Hvalba last night after the huge pod was found off Sandvik.

“Sea Shepherd ships may be banned from entering Faroese waters, but each year our volunteers are there to document the ongoing slaughter of dolphins and pilot whales,” the organization wrote on its social media page sharing news about this year’s first Grindadràp.

The organization had been able to stop the annual slaughter in 2014. But, a local law was subsequently passed thereafter, banning any Sea Shepherd vessels from entering the island’s territory.

“This is the first organised grindadrap hunt of 2020 with the meat from the hunt distributed first to the approximately 70 hunt participants from the boats and those killing on the beach – and then the remainder to villages on Suðuroy with all recipients then free to sell their share of the meat if they so wish.”

Sea Shepherd UK/Triangle NewsBy the Faroese government’s own estimates, the yearly tradition sees 800 whales slaughtered each year.Sponsored by Revcontent

It has been described as an “insane blood sport” by charity ORCA, which is lobbying to end the slaughter, carried out with knives by licensed hunters.

Despite protests from conservation activists and public health concerns amid a still growing pandemic, the government has defended the annual event, describing it as an important “sharing-based” community tradition. The self-governed Danish territory has had 188 reported COVID-19 cases and zero deaths thus far and has been testing people travelling into the country since June 27.

The tradition initially, was put on hold for this year due to health concerns amid the global COVID-19 outbreak. But the bloody whaling practice continued after the Faroe Islands’ Minister of Fisheries Jacob Vestergaard gave the go-ahead — while at the same time issuing a public warning to avoid large gatherings.

They have also argued that, though bloody, the yearly whale slaughter was a sustainable and regulated practice. The website states that only licensed hunters are allowed to participate in the custom, which the Faroese government vehemently argues is not a “festival” or “ritual,” as they say the press has frequently described it.

Sea Shepherd UK/Triangle News The government says that the 1,000-year-old tradition is “sustainable” and “regulated.”

By the government’s own estimates, the average total of whales caught during the practice is about 800 whales a year, which is “not considered to have a significant impact on the abundance of pilot whales.” According to the Faroese government, there is still a population of about 778,000 of these whales.

However, global conservation efforts to prevent certain species of whales from becoming endangered continue. But unfortunately, looks like this thousand-year-old practice won’t be ending anytime soon.

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