Hours after boats herded dolphins and pilot whales into shallow waters at Skalabotnur beach in Eysturoy, Faroe Islands, the waters of the bay are thick with scarlet blood.
Residents of the island gather near the beach to watch as the waters of the bay churn with the carcasses of mammals, soon brought ashore where they are slaughtered for food.
The yearly dolphin hunt known as the grind (or Grindadrap in Faroese) has been a controversial event for decades. The Faroese government maintains that about 600 pilot whales are killed on average.
“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,” reads a statement from the Faroese government.
As the New York Times reports, 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.
Now having led to the gruesome deaths of a record 1,400 dolphins in a single day, calls for the hunts end are reaching a fever pitch.
“Considering the times we are in, with a global pandemic and the world coming to a halt, it’s absolutely appalling to see an attack on nature of this scale in the Faroe Islands,” Alex Cornelissen, the chief executive of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an organization that works to stop whale hunting, said in a statement.
Captain Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd and an environmental activist, has called for a boycott of Faroese products and tourism to the islands.
“When the Grindadràp occurs, entire pods of family units are driven onto the beaches and viciously and mercilessly slaughtered with spears, clubs and knives,” Watson posted 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 2014, Sea Shepherd sent a mission to disrupt one of the hunts. In response, the local municipality passed a law banning Sea Shepherd ships from the archipelago.
This yearly hunt is contributing to the decimation of an entire species of precious marine mammals. It also presents a threat to the health and lives of the Faroese themselves. High levels of mercury and heavy metal toxins in the whale meat can cause neurological damage, birth defects, and other harm, Arctic Today reports.
According to the Natural History Museum, whales are also social animals, which goes hand in hand with their intelligence. They live in structured groups, or pods, and work together for feeding, protection, and social interaction.
These animals deserve better.
It’s time for this barbaric tradition to come to an end. Sign the petition imploring Faroe Islands Prime Minister to put an end to this barbaric event once and for all!
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