By Jennifer Lonsdale
No sooner was it announced that the Government of the Faroe Islands will implement new legislation on May 1, 2015 requiring the certification of anyone wishing to participate in the killing of pilot whales, than we learnt of the horrific slaughter of 267 pilot whales in Fuglafjørður on July 30.
This mass butchery followed an earlier kill of 120 whales in Viðvik on July 22.
Photographs published in the Faroese media show a chaotic scene of men, boats and whales in Fuglafjørður and we have to question why the decision was made to take so many whales. It is understood that the hunt foreman made a decision to drive half the whales towards the beach with the aim of stranding as many as possible so that people on the beach could quickly kill them.
He ignored the fact that at the time only four men were ready on the beach. This meant that those whales which actually stranded had to wait their turn to be killed, watching as family members were brutally dispatched. The rest remained in the shallows and deeper water as the bay turned red with the blood of their relatives.
But even this horror was not the end of the story. The pictures show men attempting to secure whales from their boats by sticking the round-ended hook into their blowholes; some were wading or swimming in the blood red water with the aim of doing the same. Meanwhile, others were engaged in a tug of war on the beach as they dragged individual whales through the water and onto the shore for slaughter – the hook embedded in the blowhole and attached to a long rope. Long finned pilot whales weigh up to about 1.3 tonnes.
Reports indicate that it took about one-and-a-half hours to kill the whales and we can only guess how much each individual whale suffered, not only while it was being dragged ashore and slaughtered but also while it was in the water. Pilot whales live their lives in close family groups and each whale would have been desperately communicating with others. More....