Sea turns blood red as more than 250 whales slaughtered in ‘barbaric’ hunt in Faroe Islands

Fishermen and volunteers pull on the shore pilot whales they killed during a hunt, as blood turned the sea red: AFP via Getty Images
Fishermen and volunteers pull on the shore pilot whales they killed during a hunt, as blood turned the sea red: AFP via Getty Images

Parts of the sea around the Faroe Islands have turned blood red after more than 250 whales were slaughtered by hunters last week, an environmental group has said.

The NGO Sea Shepherd said 252 whales and 35 white-sided dolphins were killed last Wednesday near the village of Hvalba as part of the archipelago’s annual whaling season.

The group added that meat from the whales would be distributed to participants in the hunt and then given to villages on the southern island of Suðuroy, with recipients free to sell their share of the meat.

“On average, 1500 dolphins are massacred every year in the Faroe Islands, which invoke an ancestral tradition to justify this barbaric practice,” Sea Shepherd said.

Although the practice of hunting whales and dolphins has been called an annual ritual in the archipelago, the Faroese government has argued the killings take place to provide food for local communities and are fully regulated by law.

They have also said the whales are not endangered species and argued that the practice is sustainable.

“The average catch of around 800 whales a year is not considered to have a significant impact on the abundance of pilot whales, which are estimated at around 778,000,” the government said.

However, some environmental groups have strongly criticised the hunts, with the group ORCA referring to the practice as an “insane blood sport”.

Captain Paul Watson, an environmental activist and Sea Shepherd's founder, has called for a boycott of Faroese products and tourism over the hunts, which are known as the Grindadràp.

Premier Grind de l’année aux Îles Féroé : 252 globicéphales et 35 dauphins à flancs blancs ont été massacrés...

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Sea Shepherd France on Thursday, 16 July 2020

“When the Grindadràp (translated as "the murder of whales") occurs, entire pods of family units are driven onto the beaches and viciously and mercilessly slaughtered with spears, clubs and knives,” Mr Watson wrote on Facebook.

“Each and every individual is murdered, males, females, mothers and calves.”

He added: “Pressure must be brought to bear wherever and whenever we can to stop this on-going massacre of entire families of innocent, intelligent, self-aware, socially complex, sentient beings.”

In a statement on last week’s killings, Sea Shepherd said it was the only organisation which had ever opposed the hunts on site.

The group said it sent a mission in 2014 to disrupt one of the hunts, which led to the passing of a local law to prohibit Sea Shepherd ships from going to the archipelago.

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Almost 100 whales dragged onshore and slaughtered