A centuries old tradition in Denmark leads to the mindless slaughter of whales annually. On 29 May, 145 pilot whales and seven white-sided dolphins were killed in Torshavn bay, Faroe Islands in Denmark. The waters that surround the islands turned a deep red, filled with the blood of the innocent creatures. This annual whale slaughter is called Grindadráp by the local Danish community, reports Conde Nast Traveller.

800 whales are killed every year to provide meat and blubber to the people of the Faroe Islands in Denmark; this is part of their natural diet. Every whale slaughtered provides communities with several hundred kilos of meat which otherwise would have to be imported. A communal activity, it involves the catches being shared by the locals mostly without exchange of cash. The activity is condemned worldwide and is compared to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China.

whales denmark
Whaling in Faroe Islands turn waters red. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Páll Nolsøe, justified the actions saying, “Whaling is a natural part of Faroese life. It has long since been internationally recognised that pilot whale catches in the Faroe Islands are fully sustainable.”

How are the whales caught?

When whales venture close to the bay, boats surround the whales and herd them back towards the land to be killed. When the animals approach the boat, a hook is inserted into their blow-hole which makes it easier for them to be hauled further up the shore. Then, a spinal lance is used to stab the neck and sever the spinal cord that completely cuts the blood supply to its brain. Once the whale loses consciousness, it dies within a few seconds. The entire community watches on as pods of whales are butchered in plain sight.

History of this tradition

The natives of the Faroe Islands in Denmark have been practising this tradition for centuries, dating back to 1584. Pilot whales have been the staple diet for inhabitants of the land since the age of the Vikings. The government is involved in these activities, and each whale catch is recorded and regulated by the authorities. Since 1584, over 2000 whales have been caught.


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