More than 1,428 Atlantic dolphins (Leucopleurus acutus) were slaughtered last weekend in the Faroe Islands, Denmark, as part of a traditional hunt that has been carried out in the country for centuries, called the Grindadràp.
The images that show the corpses of the mammals bathed in blood, on the Skalabotnur coast in Eysturoy, went viral on social networks, generating shock and social rejection, not only among environmentalists, but also among world citizens, due to the magnitude of the number of dead animals.
This year the number of the hunt “was impressive”, compared to previous years, said Sea Shepherd – the ecological association that disseminated the photos and videos of the massacre – who travel every year to the Faroe Islands to try to stop the journey of massive hunting.
Bjarni Mikkelsen, a marine biologist from the Faroe Islands, said that according to records, never have so many dolphins been killed in a single day there. According to him, the previous record was 1,200 dolphins in 1940. It is followed by 900 in 1879, 856 in 1873 and 854 in 1938.
For its part, the local government of the Faroe Islands defended the death of these more than 1,400 dolphins in a single day, within the framework of traditional hunting, despite the unrest that arouses in the Nordic archipelago.
“There is no doubt that whaling in the Faroe Islands is a dramatic spectacle for those unaccustomed to hunting and killing mammals. However, these hunts are well organized and fully regulated, ”a spokesman for the Torshavn government told AFP.
Is that the “grind” also known as “grindadráp” (a term in Faroese that refers to the hunting of marine mammals, mainly whales) is an ancestral tradition that has been practiced for hundreds of years in this autonomous Danish territory in the sea from the North, where today it is legal.
The custom consists of surrounding, and cornering with boats, a school of small cetaceans in a bay. In this way, they remain within reach of the fishermen who remained on land and who kill them with knives.
However, the photos in which more than a thousand white-sided dolphins are seen, bloodied on the beach generated much criticism due to the magnitude of the capture. The massacre took place in a fjord near Skala, in the center of the archipelago, to which 53% of the population opposes.
“It was a big mistake,” admitted the president of the Islands Whaling Association, Olavur Sjurdarberg, Heri Petersen, who chairs the local Grind hunting association in the bay where the slaughter occurred.
Along these lines, he explained that too many dolphins gathered in the bay and too few people were waiting on the beach to kill them, and this extended his agony: “The dolphins remained on the beach writhing too long before being killed.”
According to local media, the reaction of the population was “of bewilderment and shock at the extraordinarily high number” of dead dolphins. “It makes me sick to see these things,” said one commenter on the Facebook page of local television Kringvarp Føroya, while another described the massacre as “completely terrible.”