Faroes islanders have killed 100 bottlenose dolphins in the face of growing international outrage at the hunts.
The victims included 98 adults, an unborn baby and a young calf, according to the Sea Shepherd conservation group, which said it was the largest hunt of bottlenose dolphins in more than 120 years.
It’s thought the creatures were killed with knives or other sharp implements after being driven to shore in a bay.
Last September, Faroese hunters slaughtered a record 1,428 Atlantic white-sided dolphins in one go, prompting a wave of worldwide revulsion and anger, and calls for the UK to cut trading ties with the islands.
But conservationists say the latest killings show the hunters are thumbing their noses at the rest of the world.
The dolphins were driven into the bay at in Skalafjorour, the same bay where the 1,428 were killed last year.
The Sea Shepherd organisation, which filmed the latest massacre, said: “This dolphin hunt, and indeed the killing of all pilot whales and dolphins in the Faroe Islands, is simply disgraceful and will rightly cause further national and international outrage.
“Once again, some of the animals show cut marks from boat propellors where boats ran into, or over them.”
Experts from the OceanCare organisation, which condemned the “callous” act, said the bottlenose usually lives in closely bonded social units, and the hunt has potentially exterminated a whole social group for ever.
Earlier this month, Faroese officials who led a review of dolphin hunts in response to the backlash, announced they would allow the practice to continue, with a limit of 500 dolphins for the current year.
Ed Fox, director of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) charity, said it seemed the hunters were deliberately snubbing conservationists with the latest massacre.
“Bottlenose dolphins are one of the most loved and well studied species of dolphins,” said Astrid Fuchs, policy manager at WDC.
“The killing of 100 of these dolphins is a political signal to show the world that the dolphin hunters in the Faroe Islands don’t care about the opinion of their own people or the international community.
“We very much hope that the UK and the EU will respond to this position with the necessary diplomatic and economic pressure.”
UK conservationists have been lobbying the government to halt trade with the Faroes while the killings continue.
They say imports from the Faroe Islands to the UK were worth £864m at the end of last year, mostly fish products.
In the first hunt of this year, in May, 63 pilot whales were killed by Faroese hunters, including 10 pregnant mothers and their unborn calves.
Later that month, a further 119 pilot whales were killed.
The WDC says dolphin hunting is not traditional in the Faroes, but catching the creatues has long been incidental to pilot-whale hunting.
Bottlenose dolphins are strictly protected by the EU’s Species and Habitats Directive which applies to Denmark, but the Faroe Islands are not an EU member.
Mark Simmonds, director of science at OceanCare, said: “The intelligence of the bottlenose dolphin is well known. So the members of this large group would have been aware that they were being hunted and they would have been aware, once stranded on the shore, that members of their social groups were also distressed and being killed around them.”
The UK government says it opposes the hunting of cetaceans but that by having strong diplomatic and economic relationship, it can better influence the Faroese government.
“We have to take the global campaign to stop this slaughter to International Whaling Conference in Slovenia in October,” said wildlife campaigner Dominic Dyer.