Faroe Islands: Locals kill whales for fun?

EDIT: July 15 2014

Usually when one looks for cruel customs and bloody traditions, the view is on Polynesia, India, China and Africa, and doesn’t think for a moment that, in our, as we call it “civilized” neighborhood, brutal barbarism is hiding, carrying with it incomprehensible amount of cruelty and mischief, Serbian Daily “Telegraf” reported.

Farska ostrva 1
Image credits: lail-alsahara.com

Faroe Islands, self-governing state within Kingdom of Denmark, but not part of the EU (alliance of the states that put strong emphasis on animal rights and environmental protection), are home of the customs which will make anyone wonder why Denmark or Brussels haven’t done anything to make this cruel custom to stop, “Telegraf” asks.

What is the word about?

During the summer, hundreds of Long-finned Pilot Whales are being slaughtered on the beaches of the Faroe Islands, not because people are hungry or they need meat, but because it is a century-old ritual, “Telegraf” writes.

Anyone can participate, but usually only men do. Women stay in the back and cheer for them.

Image credits: lail-alsahara.com
Image credits: lail-alsahara.com

When the flock of the whales is seen near the coast, a fleet of ships is formed that these peaceful, smart and very curious creatures lures to the shore. After the whales wash up on the beach, it is impossible for them to escape, and then the slaughter begins.

A special whaling knife which cuts the dorsal fin of this beautiful creature is used. If they do not manage to pull the whales to the sand, men use special hooks which are sticked in the whales’ backs in order to control their movement, according to “Telegraf”.

Image credits: lail-alsahara.com
Image credits: lail-alsahara.com

However, residents of the Islands see nothing wrong in this. They consider it to be their tradition which cannot be taken from them by anyone, it is part of their tradition and identity.

No hunting is pretty and bloodless

According to Elin Brimheim Heinesen, the pilot whale is one of the most common whale species in the oceans all over the world, especially the long finned pilot whale. Pilot whales are not endangered according to the authorities in this matter.

The NAMMCO (North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission) is the real authority on all matters regarding the North Atlantic pilot whale. The NAMMCO base their estimation on sightings – and they estimate that the number of long finned pilot whales in the North- and East Atlantic is 780.000, and that’s excluding the West Atlantic, so the number might be, even significantly higher. The ACS (American Cetacean Society) agrees with those numbers and the IUCN also agrees that the pilot whale hunt is, as they say: ‘probably sustainable’. The IWC doesn’t consider itself an authority on small cetaceans, of which the long finned pilot whale is one. So the pilot whale is not on the list of endangered animal species.

The Sea Shepherd organisation stands alone in its claims that the long finned pilot whale is endangered.

farska ostrva 10
Image credits: lail-alsahara.com

The Faroese have killed pilot whales for at least 1.200 years, so the pilot whales should probably have been extinct by now, if the pilot whaling in the Faroes was a threat to the population as a whole. Since 1584 (that is how long it’s been carefully monitored) the Faroese have killed 850 pilot whales (in later years around 800) on average a year, so that’s a tenth of a percent (0.1%) of the pilot whale population only in the North Atlantic, which is very far from exceeding the pilot whales’ reproduction rate at around 2 %. There is nothing to indicate that the pilot whale population is in decline.

Heinesen says that most images and videos of pilot whale slaughter on the internet are outdated (including ours in this article). She says that it doesn’t happen like that any more. The whales are not being stabbed and hacked to death with spears and hooks. Killing methods have improved a lot, especially since the 1980s. Spears are forbidden, and hooks are now rounded and put into the blowholes of the whales to drag them into a better position for a quick kill. New methods have been developed which have decreased the time to death of each whale to 2-4 seconds. The pilot whale slaughters were without a doubt more violent than necessary years ago, but it’s different today. Besides, it is not possible to hunt and kill wild animals in any ‘pretty’ or non-bloody way.

No hunting is pretty and bloodless. It’s not a rational argument to say, the Faroese have to stop killing whales because it is too bloody. This is irrational and a failed argument too.

Heinesen further claim that people in the Faroe Islands don’t kill pilot whales because it is a tradition. They do it for food, as they’ve always done. But opponents call this practice of getting food ‘a tradition’, because this way of living off of the natural resources of the ocean has been common on these islands for more than 1,200 years.

“Pilot whale meat and blubber is so common and natural for the Faroese to eat that to them this food is no different than beef or bacon is to people in other countries, where they have a tradition for eating cattle or pig meat. It’s just that you can’t breed pilot whales in the same manner as you can breed cattle or pigs,” Heinesen wrote on her website.


      • No this is not happening in the USA… There they kill people instead. App. 45-50 people are executed by the USA goverment every year. But who cares about that…….love your pet and hate your neighbour.. a fine way to live.

  1. The headline states they do this for fun (killing dolphins, which these are not). They don’t do it for fun, but for food, something they have done for over a thousand years. Also, they kill these animals in under 20 seconds, much more humane than most slaughterhouses.

    • The only thing left to say after viewing this inhumane act which is being seen from all parts of the World. Will have a last say concerning this massive killing of these beautiful whales.. Faroe Islands, self-governing state within Kingdom of Denmark, but not part of the EU (alliance of the states.should and will “BOYCOTT” until they end this horrible pratice.

      • This is not a killing in the name of fun or tradition. It’s a means of providing food with what the nature has to provide. I think the world, and the animals, and the long-finned pilot whales among all other animals living in the oceans, is that we humans stop polluting the oceans and nature in general.
        These whales are not endangered to instinct ion by the Faroe Islands Grind, but by international pollution. The Faroe Islands have killed, and registered, on average approximately 1.000 long-finned pilot whales every year since the 16th century.
        That number amounts to approximately an estimated o,o1% of the long-finned pilot whales in the North Atlantic Ocean alone. Then there are the same whales in the south Atlantic Ocean which most likely have a population matching the a North Atlantic population.
        The annual reproduction rate of these relatively small whales (the long-finned pilot whales) is around 4%. Take 4% and minus the killings in the Faroe Islands, and you’ve got a reproduction rate (that is how much the population grows) of 3.99.
        In order to eat meat, you have to kill an animal of some kind (or human…), and then slice that in to what ever beef size you need.
        The solution to tell me/us the Faroese, to just go eat something else like a Big Mac or “some other meat” doesn’t qualify as a solution for not killing another animal. Quite the contrary, it means that instead of eating an animal that has been roaming for free its entire life, we are supposed to import meat from as far as New Zealand and South America, and not only this, but it’s from a animal I, we and you have no clue of what kind of life it has had. But in most cases we KNOW it’s had way too much injections of vaccines just to survive the horrific conditions that are prevalent in many if not all animal farms. These animals, may it be pigs, cows, sheep’s or chickens, to name a few, have in many cases never seen the light of day, living their entire life at the exact same spot, being fed with growth enhancers, just to bring the time from birth to slaughter down as much as possible, bringing down “production” costs, resulting in you buying a cheaper burger at, say Mac Donald’s…
        Yes, stop the “cruel” slaughter in the Faroe Islands….
        (PS: slight sarcasm might occur)

    • true Matthew, i live in the faroe island, and we kill them for food, and we Dont do this daily, we do it about 2-3 times a year. we do not go to sea too hunt whales, the whales swims to us, and they would probleby be stranded on our beaches.
      and by the way those images are veeeeeery old. ja that looks brutal, but we dont do it like that anymore.
      now we have professinal men to do it, who knows exacly how to kill the whale faaaaaaast, so they dont feel any pain

      my 3d and vfx page, that i always share when speaking with someone [link]

  2. This is much more humane to kill them quickly than to make, lets say, shark fin soup as we see other countries do.

    However, I as a Dane take much distance to this; my friends here didn’t even know that the faroe islanders did these things.

    • Yes, please give an explanation to your stance on the Grind in the Faroe Islands. And you not knowing what happens within the Kingdom of Denmark, to me, only shows how ignorant you are. At least I know about the horrific conditions the pigs in Denmark suffer from…

  3. Make no mistake ..it actually is an addictive sport. No longer a necessity for primitive needs, this has become a modern thrill of enjoying a ritualistic mass slaughtering of huge benevolent beings by chasing, gaffing, and slicing throats among fellow hunters sharing the day long adrenaline rush. The ancient survival practice has been reduced to little more than an exciting, addictive bloodsport evidenced by their refusal to quit though it’s not subsistence and many there disapprove.

    • Can you prove and of your accusations? I’ll make it easy for you with a single word: No.

      This is a load of bs and shows clear signs of ignorance and lack of will to do some simple researc before reaching an absurd conclusion.

    • I’m not sure what you’re trying to do, or get out of posting this video. This video is ancient. I’ve seen alot of you lately.. you always write the same thing, and post a video or a picture with it. eventhough you should know better by know, you still refuse to get any facts, or do any research.. I guess you don’t care that everything you post is completly made up, into what you want it to be. Not the truth.. such a shame.. This Video is ANCIENT. This doesn’t happen. Neither this way, nor this species.

      FYI. This is not Grind(Long finned Pilot Whale).. At least get something right, will you?!

    • Thank you for your support of the Faroe Islands :)

      Sea Shepherd are spreading lies and propaganda about the Grind in the Faroe Islands in the name of conservation. What most people do know, is that Sea shepherd do this for money. Money that people who believe they support a good cause, end up destroying healthy cultures and societies around the globe.
      Just to clarify. The Grind killings in the Faroe Islands are not an “annual” thing. Nor is it tradition in the sense that it’s something that is done because history makes it so. Neither is it made for fun, nor for the sake of hurting the animal as much as possible.
      What it is though, is a means of supplying food from the natural surroundings in the harsh conditions that surround the Faroe Islands. Yes, we are able to import other meat, but what does that solve, when that meat is coming from another animal, which in most cases has lived in captivity its entire life? Nothing. It only transfers the meat supply. A cow, sheep, pig or chicken still has to give its life. This is the way of life on this planet. Go fight for peace and less pollution and cleaning of the oceans. At least that makes sense!

      (The main text was not aimed at you Razda ;) )

  4. These recordings are so old that most of the people in this movie are dead by age now.
    If you want people to react positively then get your facts right first

  5. okay…. uhm… Im Faroese…. and.. i just want to tell you some things… that video, you posted was in ’78 and the people killing them were mistaken.. i do not know how… we don’t kill Killerwhales…. and also we don’t do this for sports… or fun… we do it for food! if you people just tried to come over here and see the Grind go on for yourselves, without trying to stop it, you can actually see that we do it for food! i can’t explain this very good, but if you people just tried to listen or something you can actually get, why we do this..