Over 600 Whales And Dolphins Killed In Bloody Faroe Island Hunt This Summer


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockSep 3 2018, 13:07 UTC

The shores of Sandavagur in the Faroe Islands on July 30, 2018. Courtesy of Sea Shepherd UK

Warning: This article contains graphic images some people might find distressing. Especially the last one.

Once again, the shores of the Faroe Islands ran red with blood this summer.


Startling images have been released showing this year's Faroe Islands' grindadráp, a traditional whaling event where locals trap, beach, and then kill hundreds of long-finned pilot whales and dolphins.

A crew from Sea Shepherd UK have been working on the ground in the Faroe Islands to document this year’s hunt. In an email to IFLScience, they revealed that at least 561 pilot whales and 45 Atlantic white-sided dolphins were killed in 2018 over the course of 10 grindadráp hunts between May 22 and August 21.

The Faroe Islands are a self-governed Danish archipelago located between Scotland and Iceland. Grindadráp is considered to be a deeply traditional event, dating back as far as the early Norse settlements on the archipelago. Members of the community head out on small boats to approach pods of whales and dolphins that have been sighted close to land. Using hooks, ropes, and knives, they begin to drive the cetaceans to the shores. Once trapped in the shallow waters, they sever the animals' spinal cords using a specialized lance. The Faroese claim this technique takes mere seconds to kill whales and dolphins, however, outside observers claim it can often take minutes before the animal stops thrashing around.

Courtesy of Sea Shepherd UK
Courtesy of Sea Shepherd UK

Once the animal is killed, the body is butchered and their meat is distributed throughout the local community to eat. If there’s a surplus, the meat can be sold to supermarkets and local restaurants.

“As soon as a whale was beached, people would yell and run towards it to hook it,” a crew member for Sea Shepherd said in a testimonial.

“There were lots of children and families there. They were all having fun, like they were at a football match."


"It shocked me how much they were enjoying it,” they added.

Courtesy of Sea Shepherd UK

Needless to say, this event is highly controversial. In the past 50 years, it’s estimated that the Faroe Islands have killed over 62,000 pilot whales and dolphins. Many Faroese consider grindadráp and eating whale meat as a fundamental piece of their culture and heritage. However, the event attracts a massive amount of criticism from animal rights groups and the international community at large. Denmark tends to shrug off any criticism of the event because the islands are self-governed and the events are regulated by the Faroese authorities.

In 2008, chief medical officers of the Faroe Islands recommended in a letter to the government that pilot whales shouldn't be considered fit for human consumption due to the ridiculously high levels of mercury, PCB, and DDT derivatives. 


However, as you can see, this warning as not totally discouraged the local festivities. 

Courtesy of Sea Shepherd UK

We warned you.


Courtesy of Sea Shepherd UK

  • tag
  • dolphin,

  • whale,

  • humans,

  • whaling,

  • hunting,

  • denmark,

  • Faroe Islands,

  • long-finned pilot whales,

  • Atlantic white-sided dolphins