Faroe Islands host biggest ever dolphin massacre as fishermen kill 1,428 animals

WARNING – GRAPHIC IMAGES. According to the Faroe Islands, up to 1,000 marine mammals are killed each year during the grindadráp or “grind”.

Sea Shepherd Chief Operating Officer Rob Read said the killing was “an entirely different order of magnitude”. (

Image: Sea Shepherd / SWNS)

Terrifying images from the largest recorded dolphin massacre in the Faroe Islands show bodies on the beaches and the sea stained red with their blood.

Hunters in the remote archipelago reportedly killed 1,428 animals this week; the highest death toll ever recorded in the traditional, centuries-old annual hunt.

Bloody pictures showing the result of the hunt show dozens of white-sided dolphins lined up in the shallows of the islands’ beaches, in blood-red water with deep cuts on their bodies.

The gruesome festival is known as Grindadráp or “Grind” and dates back to the Viking Age.

According to the Faroe Islands, which are part of the Danish Empire, up to 1,000 marine mammals are killed every year.

That figure last year only included 35 white-sided dolphins.

Up to 1,000 dolphins are typically killed during the event each year
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Image:

Sea Shepherd / SWNS)

As part of the bloody tradition, boats drive the Atlantic white-sided dolphins towards a bay on the island of Skálafjørður. On the bank, men wait to kill the animals in the shallow water with hooks, knives and spears.

The Faroese are said to be split in Grindadráp, but many are calling on foreign media and NGOs to respect their traditional island culture. Fishing keeps a central place on the island and meat is usually kept for food.

The practice has been condemned as “barbaric” by animal rights activists, but locals claim it is an important part of their local tradition.

Some of those defending the carnage reportedly fear the Sunday hunt may attract unwanted attention as it was far larger than previous events and allegedly without the usual organization.

The graphic scene of hundreds of slaughtered dolphins in Skálafjörður
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Image:

Sea Shepherd / SWNS)

Olavur Sjurdarberg, chairman of the Faroese Pilot Whale Hunting Association, expressed concern that the mass slaughter would rekindle the debate about the practice.

Sjurdarberg told the local broadcaster KVF: “We have to remember that we are not alone on earth. On the contrary, the world has become much smaller today, everyone is walking around with a camera in their pockets.

“This is a fabulous treat for those who really want us to catch pilot whales.”

The traditional event is the last remaining form of aboriginal whaling that still exists in Western Europe.

Proponents of the practice feared the mass slaughter would rekindle the debate about hunting
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Image:

Sea Shepherd / SWNS)

According to Faroese law, pilot whales, bottlenose dolphins, white-beaked dolphins and porpoises may also be hunted, with meat and bacon from the animals often being used as food.

The practice dates back to a time when the locals relied on whale and dolphin meat to survive. Despite its widespread consumption, a recent study found that the meat contains mercury and is not recommended for regular consumption.

Whaling is not regulated by the International Whaling Commission, but is instead regulated by the Faroese authorities, due to disagreements over the powers of the Whaling Control Board.

Whaling is regulated by the Faroese authorities
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Image:

Sea Shepherd / SWNS)

In 1986 an international moratorium on whaling was introduced, but the International Whaling Commission still allows some “subsistence” whaling. An exception to the zero catch restrictions has been made for aboriginal whaling due to its cultural significance.

While Faroese law dictates that animals must die quickly and without suffering, this is not often the case. In 2015 the law was updated, hunters now have to attend a course in which they learn to slaughter animals properly with the spinal lance.

If this technique is not used, animals can take up to 20 minutes to die, and whales and dolphins endure the horror of seeing their relatives killed in front of their eyes.

The murders are often documented by the environmental organization Sea Shepherd, a group that has been operating in the Faroe Islands since the early 1980s.

It is known that the activists use their own boats to take direct action against the Grindadráp.

The organization’s chief operating officer, Rob Read, said the killing was “an entirely different order of magnitude”.

“This is overwhelmingly unprecedented,” he said.

“Meat is no longer needed in the Faroe Islands these days and it shouldn’t be, let alone in these numbers.”

Sea Shepherd earlier this year caught with the camera Another, smaller hunt with bloodier pictures showing the water off the islands, turning red from the blood of the animals.

The footage shows whalers driving them onto the beach to be killed for meat.

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