Outcry over killing of almost 1,500 dolphins on Faroe Islands

 

Many Faroese horrified by what Sea Shepherd group claims was largest such massacre in the islands’ history

 Story contains graphic image that some may find distressing.

 

Atlantic white-sided dolphins
Dolphins are traditionally hunted on the Faroe Islands for their meat. Photograph: JZHunt/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Even the staunchest defenders of traditional whaling in the Faroe Islands have condemned the “cruel and unnecessary” massacre on Sunday of a superpod of nearly 1,500 dolphins, which were driven into shallow waters of the Skálabotnur beach on the island of Eysturoy and left writhing for hours before being killed.

The Sea Shepherd group, which has been campaigning to stop the traditional Faroese “Grind” hunt since the 1980s, has claimed Sunday’s hunt was “the largest single killing of dolphins or pilot whales in the islands’ history”, with more animals perishing than in an entire season at the infamous “Cove” at Taiji, Japan.

This time though, the scale of the killing was such that even many Faroese, who frequently view the hunt as part of their cultural heritage, expressed disgust.

“I get nauseous seeing this kind of thing,” said one commentator on the Facebook page of the local broadcaster Kringvarp Føroya, with another describing the massacre as “full-on terrible”, saying: “I’m embarrassed to be Faroese.”

 

The carcasses of dead white-sided dolphins on a beach after being pulled from the blood-stained water on the island of Eysturoy.
The carcasses of dead white-sided dolphins on a beach after being pulled from the blood-stained water on the island of Eysturoy. Photograph: AP

 

Heri Petersen, who chairs the local Grind hunting association in the bay where the killing took place, said that far too many dolphins had been herded into the bay over too long a distance, with too few people waiting on the beach to kill them, prolonging their agony.

“I’m appalled at what happened,” he told the local In.fo news site. “The dolphins lay on the beach writhing for far too long before they were killed.”

Hans Jacob Hermansen, the former chairmen of the Faroese Grind Association, which campaigns for the survival of the traditional hunt, told the local Kringvarp Føroya broadcaster that he was shocked by the event, which he said “destroys all the work we have done to preserve the Grind”.

The Grind is significant for many Faroese people, with spectators coming out to watch from the shore, and the meat from the catch traditionally shared among the families that participated, with any excess then spread among local villagers.

But one local told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet that there was no way that locals would want to consume this much dolphin meat.

“My guess is that most of the dolphins will be thrown in the trash or in a hole in the ground,” they said. “We should have quotas per district, and we should not kill dolphins.”

Captain Alex Cornelissen, the global chief executive of Sea Shepherd, which campaigns against whaling, said that in the midst of a global pandemic it was “absolutely appalling to see an attack on nature of this scale in the Faroe Islands”.

… as you’re joining us today from Greece, we have a small favour to ask. Tens of millions have placed their trust in the Guardian’s high-impact journalism since we started publishing 200 years ago, turning to us in moments of crisis, uncertainty, solidarity and hope. More than 1.5 million readers, from 180 countries, have recently taken the step to support us financially – keeping us open to all, and fiercely independent.

With no shareholders or billionaire owner, we can set our own agenda and provide trustworthy journalism that’s free from commercial and political influence, offering a counterweight to the spread of misinformation. When it’s never mattered more, we can investigate and challenge without fear or favour.

Unlike many others, Guardian journalism is available for everyone to read, regardless of what they can afford to pay. We do this because we believe in information equality. Greater numbers of people can keep track of global events, understand their impact on people and communities, and become inspired to take meaningful action.

We aim to offer readers a comprehensive, international perspective on critical events shaping our world – from the Black Lives Matter movement, to the new American administration, Brexit, and the world’s slow emergence from a global pandemic. We are committed to upholding our reputation for urgent, powerful reporting on the climate emergency, and made the decision to reject advertising from fossil fuel companies, divest from the oil and gas industries, and set a course to achieve net zero emissions by 2030.

If there were ever a time to join us, it is now. Every contribution, however big or small, powers our journalism and sustains our future. Support the Guardian from as little as €1 – it only takes a minute. If you can, please consider supporting us with a regular amount each month. Thank you.

theguardian.com

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This