Traditional hunts are a part of many cultures. There are arguments on both sides as to whether or not they should be allowed to continue. While some say that traditional hunts can be done in a sustainable way, this latest example was anything but. On September 12 during the annual dolphin hunt in the Faroe Islands, hunters killed more than 1,400 dolphins. Animal rights groups have shared the graphic footage online and it is nothing short of brutal. (1)
***Warning: Graphic Images Ahead***
Graphic Footage Of The Annual Dolphin Hunt In The Faroe Islands
An annual hunt, called “The Grind” has been taking place in the Faroe Islands for hundreds of years. It is a legal mass hunting event that takes place every summer. The event involves using knives or spinal lace to hunt sea mammals such as pilot whales and dolphins by hand. The meat is then harvested for human food.
The total body count of the dolphins was 1,428 Atlantic white-sided dolphins. This is a highly excessive amount in comparison to the usual. The Sea Shepherd Faroe Islands Campaign, a marine animals activist group, shared the horrifying photos on their Facebook page.
“The grindforeman of the district was not informed. And had he been, he says he wouldn´t have allowed the slaughter to happen,” they wrote in the caption. “Instead another grindforeman made the decision, a decision he was not allowed to make. It is on him that 1428 dolphins were driven for over 40 km. He made the call for them to be slaughtered even though there weren´t enough people or boats to handle all the dolphins.” (2)
A massacre.— Blue Planet Society (@Seasaver) September 13, 2021
An estimated ONE THOUSAND white-sided dolphins cruelly slaughtered in the Faroe Islands last night.
Read more here https://t.co/yc2Gkx3am3
📷 Palli Asbjornsson Justesen pic.twitter.com/J7UvTVY2bi
The Annual Grind
The Grind, also known as Grindadráp in the local language, is an annual hunting tradition dating back hundreds of years. The first recorded hunt was in 1584. Whaling is a deeply embedded part of Faroe tradition, as it dates back to the people there relying on it to survive. It used to be that the meat and blubber were essential to the Faroe people’s survival. (3)
Using small whaling boats, the hunters drive the pods of animals into shallow waters where they are stranded onto the shore. They then kill them with knives or spinal lances, as spears and harpoons were outlawed due to cruelty concerns over 30 years ago.
The events aren’t actually planned because they require very specific conditions. This includes water and weather, the proximity of the animals to shore, and whether or not they have enough hands on deck to handle it. The hunt is supposed to be called off if even one of the conditions is not met.
Many groups are concerned about the sustainability of these hunts. These species aren’t on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s, however, the ability to collect accurate data on these creatures is tough. The long-finned pilot whale, for example, is protected under the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. This only applies to the EU, which the Faroe Islands is not a part of.
What Makes The Grind 2021 So Cruel
The issue some are taking with this year’s hunt is twofold. One, there were not enough people to handle that many animals, and two, the number of slaughtered animals was much higher than usual. Normally, around 850 animals are hunted each year, meaning the 2021 event included nearly 600 more animals, particularly dolphins.
Due to the lack of personnel, many groups also say that the dolphins were left for far too long on the beach still alive and bleeding out. In the photos, you can see the water close to shore stained with blood.
The chairman of the Faroese Whalers Association Olavur Sjurdarberg agreed that this year’s hunt was excessive. He says that a big mistake was made and the hunters estimated that the pod size was about 200, not over 1400. It wasn’t until the killing began that they realized how many animals there were.
“Somebody should have known better. Most people are in shock about what happened,” Sjurdarberg said.
Chairman of the local Grind hunting association Heri Petersen agreed, as well, saying that the number and how many of the dolphins died was horrendous.
“I’m appalled at what happened,” Petersen said. “The dolphins lay on the beach writhing for far too long before they were killed.”
Hopefully, the atrocity of this year’s hunt will wake up those who need it to put more regulations and restrictions on these types of events. We need to protect our wildlife now in order to still have them in the future.
- “Footage shows a sea of blood after close to 1,500 dolphins were killed in a traditional mass hunt in the Faroe Islands.” Insider. Cheryl Teh. September 15, 2021.
- Facebook. Sea Shepherd Faroe Islands Campaign
- “What is Grindadráp and why is whaling in the Faroe Islands so controvesial.” Life Gate. Philip Budgen. August 12, 2016.