250 dead whales and dolphins in Faroe Islands cause “red tide”

The animals were lured to the coast and killed with harpoons, the local government argues that it is a sustainable tradition that feeds the local population.

Tradition or destruction? A new bloodbath has stained the waters of the Faroe Islands this week. On Wednesday about 200 pilot whales and 40 dolphins were cornered by fishermen and directed to the coast of Torshavn, the capital of the islands on Streymoy Island, the largest in the archipelago.

Locals speared harpoons around the animals' necks to break their backbone – a traditional technique of the region – then dragged bodies to the ground with the help of hooks. Island volunteers helped the process and a crowd of spectators gathered on the beach to watch the maneuvers. The water was painted red.

Whale and dolphin killing in the Faroe Islands. (Credit: Blue Planet Society)

Every year about 800 whales are slaughtered in the Faroe Islands. Hunting of these animals is included in the territory's legislation, which lies between Iceland and Norway and belongs to Denmark. The legislation covers the methods and equipment used for killing animals.

The local government argues that the practice is sustainable and helps ensure that the 18 islands of the archipelago are as self-sufficient as possible. Each whale can yield up to 800 pounds of flesh and skin – which the locals consume. The government says it thus avoids the importation of food, which would have high costs for the population and also for the environment.

Through social networking, the Blue Planet Society denounced the “brutal and cruel” killing. "About 500 cetaceans have been killed to be eaten on these islands since early 2019," warns the NGO created to combat this activity.

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