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People Watch Sea Turn Red As 23 Whales Are Killed On Faroe Islands

Jess Hardiman

| Last updated 

People Watch Sea Turn Red As 23 Whales Are Killed On Faroe Islands


Tourists on the Faroe Islands watched on as the sea turned red from the blood of 23 whales, which had been butchered during a hunt last Friday.



The pilot whales had been slaughtered for their meat and blubber, while an unborn calf had also been cut from the womb of its dead mother.

People, including young children, could be seen looking on at the bloody animals on the dockside, with many stopping to snap the dead mammals lying just metres away.

The killings are a centuries-old tradition on the Faroe Islands, known locally as a 'grind' or 'grindadrap'. It apparently helps feed the population of the remote Atlantic community over winter.

But while the Faroese claim the practice is both sustainable and regulated by law, campaign groups say it is inhumane and are calling for such hunts for banned.


Charity Sea Shepherd UK documented the killing on Friday 2 August in the bay of Hvalvik, saying this is the 10th whale hunt on the Faroe Islands this year - with 536 pilot whales slaughtered in total.

In September 2018, the charity offered the Faroe Islands €1m (£920,000; $1.1m) for 10 consecutive years with no whale hunts.

The killings are a centuries-old tradition in the area. Credit: Triangle News
The killings are a centuries-old tradition in the area. Credit: Triangle News

A spokesman for the campaign group said: "Over the course of the lengthy drive more and more members of the public and tourists could be seen stopping along the coastline to watch the family of pilot whales struggle and resist.

"As is often the case, the grind was swiftly becoming a social event, with parents laughing and chatting as children played on the killing beach.

"The level of excitement was clearly growing as anticipation of the brutality came closer. Epitomising the social aspect of the grind was the sight of a youth group - possibly a guides or scout group - sat eagerly watching and waiting."

The Sea Shepherd UK crew documented the hunt with video footage and photographs, with a charity spokesman adding: "Grind participants ran cheering into the pod to start attaching ropes and pulling individuals out to begin slaughtering.


"Though, as usual, the 'humane' process of killing the pilot whales was far from it, with multiple unsuccessful attempts to paralyse them with the lance were observed on a number of the pod.

"Having previously observed other pilot whale drives, our crew noted that this pod had clearly been worn out or resigned to their fate as little to no cries were heard from the pod.

"As the family were laid out on the docks, the all too familiar and disturbing images of children jumping on and playing with the dead could be seen.

23 whales were killed. Credit: Triangle News
23 whales were killed. Credit: Triangle News

"As the process continued, crew witnessed one juvenile being laid out to be butchered and the harrowing sight of one unborn calf being cut from their mother's womb.

"The calf appeared to be mere days or weeks from being born. In another case a small foetus was witnessed being removed.

"Our crew learnt from one participant that the unborn are not eaten and would later be 'returned to the sea', an eloquent way of saying their bodies will be unceremoniously dumped.

"The Faroese often talk of the tradition behind the grindadrap and specifically the respect shown to the pilot whales.

"Video and photographs from the 10th grind of 2019 clearly show this not to be the case, with images of people and tourists taking selfies with the murdered pod.

"Children were playing with fins, kicking and punching the bodies, walking on them and worryingly seen running around the dock carrying the traditional knives that are used as part of the grindadrap."

Featured Image Credit: Triangle News

Topics: World News, News, Whales, Animals

Jess Hardiman
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