Story at a glance

  • Nearly 1,500 white-sided dolphins were driven by boats and jet skis Sunday into shallow waters where they were killed as part of the hunting tradition known as grindadráp.
  • The slaughter is the largest single hunt of dolphins or pilot whales in the semi-independent Danish territory’s history.
  • While many on the island have long defended the custom, the high number of dolphins killed sparked criticism from some locals.

The centuries-old tradition of dolphin hunting in the Faroe Islands has been criticized by conservationists for years, but a recent record-breaking slaughter has sparked fresh scrutiny of the practice. 

Nearly 1,500 white-sided dolphins were driven by boats and jet skis Sunday into shallow waters where they were killed as part of the hunting tradition known as grindadráp, according to conservation group Sea Shepherd


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The group said it believes the slaughter is the largest single hunt of dolphins or pilot whales in the semi-independent Danish territory’s history and “possibly the largest single hunt of cetaceans ever recorded worldwide.” 

“Normally meat from a grindadrap is shared amongst the participants and any remainder among the locals in the district where the hunt place. However there is more dolphin meat from this hunt than anyone wants to take, so the dolphins are being offered to other districts in the hopes of not having to dump it.,” the group said

Sea Shepherd said the previous record was set in 1940 on the island, when some 1,200 pilot whales were killed. 

While many on the island have long defended the custom, the high number of dolphins killed sparked criticism from some locals. 

“It was a big mistake,” Olavur Sjurdarberg, chairman of the Faroese Whalers Association, told the BBC. Sjurdarberg did not participate in the hunt. 

“When the pod was found, they estimated it to be only 200 dolphins.” he said. “Most people are in shock about what happened.”

Sjurdur Skaale, a Danish MP for the Faroe Islands, told the BBC he visited the beach where the killings took place and said “people were furious.” 

The hunt is legal on the islands and is regulated as hunters must have training certificates that qualify them to properly kill the animals. 


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Published on Sep 15, 2021