Sunday, September 12 was a fateful night for one pod of Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins. A group of speedboats and jet-skis drove 1,428 of these dolphins into the shallow water of Skálabotnur beach in the Faroe Islands before brutally murdering every single one of them. This occurrence is believed to be the single largest hunt of dolphins or pilot whales ever to take place in the Faroe Islands, and it was quite possibly the single largest hunt of cetaceans to occur anywhere in the world.
Sea Shepherd, an international non-profit marine wildlife conservation organization, has been fighting against this annual dolphin slaughter - nicknamed the ‘Grind’ - since the early 1980’s. But after this latest massacre of the aquatic creatures, the hunt is now being bashed by the Faroese media as well as many politicians and pro-whalers from the Faroe Islands themselves.
According to the locals that shared video footage and photos of the slaughter with Sea Shepherd, this hunt actually broke some of the regulation laws of the Grind. Firstly, the district foreman was never made aware of the hunt, meaning that it was unauthorized. Secondly, many of the hunters didn’t have the necessary hunting licenses to hunt the dolphins. Licensed hunters are taught how to kill the dolphins quickly and more humanely, but the shared videos showed living, moving dolphins that had been thrown onto the shore alongside dead members of their pod. Thirdly, a number of the creatures were chopped up by the boat propellers, leaving them in excruciating pain and unnecessarily dragging out their deaths. Photos on the official Sea Shepherd website show just how bloody and violent the hunt was.
What makes this whole situation worse is the amount of waste it created. On a normal hunt, the flesh of the dolphins would be distributed amongst the hunters and the locals. This time though, there was just too much meat. Nobody wants it, so the most likely outcome is that the corpses will be trashed.
Many of the Faroese locals disagree with this annual tradition and believe that it is barbaric and needs to be stopped. Even the usually hesitant local press has released their opinion by agreeing with the people and calling the bloodbath unnecessary.
To make matters even worse, this isn’t the only hunt that’s taken place. The Faroese previously slaughtered 615 pilot whales, bringing the total of murdered animals to a whopping 2043 cetaceans in this year alone. Along with some of the locals of the Faroese Islands, Sea Shepherd will continue to fight against massacres like these to protect dolphins and pilot whales.