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Whale Hunt Turns The Sea Bloody Red With Hundreds Of Massacred Whales

Aug 20, 2018 08:42 PM EDT
Pilot Whales
The annual whale cull of Faroe Islands in Europe has transformed the sea a deep, bloody red. Hundreds of whales are slaughtered every year in the centuries-old tradition of the archipelago.
(Photo : Maren G. Bergmann | Pixabay)

It's a gruesome sight that takes place every year in Faroe Islands: a whale hunt that results in dozens of slaughtered whales.

The event is so massive that it has turned the waters of the bay bloody red. Here, in the remote isles that welcome the harshest winters, whaling is a community activity.

Whale Culling 2018

Alastair Ward, 22, witnessed and captured the event in photographs in Triangle News, as reported by BBC. It may be a tradition for the Faroese, but the University of Cambridge student was shocked at the volume of dead whales.

"They were driving them into the bay, prodding them with their oars," Ward recalls about the cull in the village of Sandavágu. "Once they got close enough, the whole town sprinted in and started hacking at them. Even the children were getting involved, pulling on the ropes and jumping on the carcasses."

Express UK reports that the practice includes herding the whales to shallow waters, then killing them with a spinal lance that's pierced into them to break their spinal cord.

Around 180 pilot whales were killed in Sandavágu during the event.

About The Faroe Islands Tradition

The Faroe Islands, a remote archipelago in the North Atlantic, has been whale hunting for centuries. It's carried out to prepare for the impending season as the animal's meat and blubber will feed the 50,000 Faroese through the harsh winter months.

"The meat and blubber of pilot whales have long been — and continue to be — a valued part of the national diet in the Faroe Islands," the Faroese government tells CNN in a statement. "Catches are shared largely without the exchange of money among the participants in a whale drive and the local community. Each whale provides the communities with several hundred kilos of meat and blubber — meat that otherwise had to be imported from abroad."

The Faroese claim that the event is regulated by national laws with the actual killing done to cause the least amount of suffering to the animals. They also say that the tradition is sustainable with around 800 of the 100,000 pilot whales population killed annually.

The traditional hunts are regulated by the national government as well as international groups such as the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission, a CNN report reveals. NAMMC research in 2012 has shown that the levels of killings in Faroe Islands do not threaten the pilot whale populations and sustainability.

For Ward, though, the methods that the locals used to slaughter the whales weren't very humane.

"The squealing from the whales was horrible," he says. "They were putting hooks on ropes in their blowholes to pull them in and then hacking at them with knives."

Commercial whaling has been banned globally since the 1980s, but these culls are not affected, since the meat is shared among the community's residents rather than sold.

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