Faroe Island’s Grind Spring/Summer 2014 Takes 13 Dolphin Victims

By Kirsten Massebeau and Barbara Napoles

The Pithing Tool is Used to sever the spine behind the blowhole a cruel and inhumane practice

The Pithing Tool is used to sever the spine behind the blowhole a cruel and inhumane practice of slaughtering dolphins. An example can be seen in footage from Taiji hunters instructed by the Faroe Islanders in the slaughtering technique.

The suffering of highly intelligent beings has begun as the Faroe Grind Summer 2014 takes the lives of 13 long finned pilot whales, a large dolphin that migrates through the North Atlantic. The small family of whales was driven into the shores of Fuglafjørður a village on Eysturoy’s east coast in the Faroe Islands. Its name means “fjord of birds”. The village is at the edge of a bay and expands into the surrounding steep hillsDespite scientific findings that dolphins have large complex brains, languages, and cultures the terrible hunt continues.

The small pod of dolphins are only the beginning of grindadráps that will span the summer and into the early fall slaughtering 1000’s of the large dolphins many of whom are pregnant at this time of year as they migrate through the North Atlantic past the Faroe Islands. The species is IUCN Red Listed as Data deficient, the meat is toxic, and the killing method inhumane yet the slaughter of 1000’s continues. The world has spoken out against the grind with Disney Cruise Lines recently altering their summer dropping the Faroe Islands from their route:

“No information has been released as to the reasoning behind the schedule change, but it’s likely that passengers–many of which are traveling with children–would be disturbed to see the slaughter, which happens on the beaches and usually fills the harbor with red water. Animal rights advocates criticize hunts like these for being cruel and unnecessary, because the level of mercury in pilot whales makes them unfit for consumption”.


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TWEETSTORM: End the Faroe Grind

By Kirsten Massebeau

Ocean activists are again joining their voices to speak out on behalf of the small whales and dolphins that migrate past the Faroe Islands, on the gulf stream, North of Scotland, and South of Iceland. The archipelago is composed of 18 islands covering 1399 km2 and is 113 km long and 75 km wide, roughly in the shape of an arrowhead (source). In 2013 the beautiful islands offer a great many things to visitors or to people wanting to relocate and improve their quality of life. While unemployment is prevalent in the Faroe Islands the average income on the Faroe Island is a GDP – per capita (PPP): $30,500 (2008 est.) Many of the growing industries on the islands are touted as attractors for new investors, and the beautiful landscape attracts many visitors.

Website “Invest In The Faroes” states:

The community of the Faroe Islands is modern and highly developed with a standard of living that is comparable to other Scandinavian countries.

In 2007, the National Geographic Traveler and the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations named the Faroe Islands the world’s most unspoiled island community and appealing destination to visit.

The Faroe Islands are not merely a delight to the traveller, but also offer a good quality of life to the people who inhabit the archipelago (source)

Invest in the Faroes lists: Fish Farming, Marine Biotech, Suppliers to the Maritime Industries, and Marine Research & Development encouraging investors in all areas. In addition oil exploration began and was licensed in 2000. “Drilling the eight exploration well started in 2012 and continues in 2013 with Statoil as the operator in partnership with ExxonMobil and Atlantic Petroleum”. (source)

While the Faroese people are known for their hospitality to their human visitors, and investors, the same hand of friendship is not extended to the highly intelligent pilot whales and dolphins that migrates the gulf stream past their islands each year.

The Faroese disregard the Bonn Convention ban on killing small whales and dolphins and continue the mass killings of huge pods of small cetaceans. The island residents claim the toxic dolphin meat is still an essential part of their diet but scientists disagree:

Dietary recommendations regarding pilot whale meat and blubber in the Faroe Islands

Pál Weihe, Høgni Debes Joensen

“The latest analyses show that the mercury concentration of pilot whale remains high, with an average of about 2 micrograms per gram. In the EU, the highest limit value of 1 microgram per gram is only applicable to the most contaminated species of fish. This limit is exceeded by most pilot whales.” The physicians noted that mercury and PCB exposure contribute to Parkinson’s disease in adults, impaired immunity in children, and compromised fetal development. “It is recommended that pilot whale is no longer used for human consumption,” they warned. (Source)

A living pilot whale restrained by the sharp hook in the blowhole about to be slaughtered. November 16, 2013

A pilot whale is restrained using by placing a large hook in the sensitive blowhole. The man above is attempting to locate the spinal cord which he hopes to sever using a technique called pithing. The dolphin is the paralyzed but still conscious, ready for slaughter.

“A whale’s blowhole is a remarkably refined evolutionary development which allows it to breathe in and out in about a second, without letting any water enter the lungs. It can be speculated that sticking a metal hook into the blowhole and dragging a large whale through the water must cause alarm, distress, and pain” (source).

The drive hunts, or the ‘Grinds,’ are an extremely inhumane practice where entire family groups are rounded up out at sea by small motor boats and driven to the shore where they are killed in shallow bays. Once they beach, blunt-ended metal hooks inserted into their blowholes are used to drag the whales up the beach or in the shallows, where they are killed with a knife cut to their major blood vessels.

Whales thrash their families are slaughtered in the shallow waters.

Whales thrash as the entire pod is slaughtered in shallow rocky waters.

WDCS believes that the driving, dragging and killing, all of which takes place within view of their pod members, is intensely stressful and cruel. Pilot whales, and other species, including bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic white-sided dolphins and northern bottlenose whales, are still hunted for their meat in the Faroe Islands (Source)

“On health grounds alone, these whales should not have been killed. Combine that with the inherent cruelty, and serious questions continue to be asked of this highly modern society as to why the needless massacre of pilot whales continues“(source).

Despite the International Union For Conservation of Nature Red Listing the Globicephala melas of the Delphinidae,long finned pilot whale as data deficient huge pods continue to be driven into Faroese bays and coves where they are brutally slaughtered. In addition to pilot whales, this year, 430 Atlantic white sided dolphins were added to their long list of victims. 1534 small whales/ dolphins have been slaughtered in the Faroe Islands since the beginning of 2013. See the break down HERE.

  • JOIN our TWEETSTORM on November 19th to voice an end to the Faroe grind. The grind is the hunt of pilot whales and other dolphins in the Faroe Islands.TWEETSTORM TIME ANNOUNCER: ► http://bit.ly/18CAt1E

Champions for Cetaceans Daily Scoop: Dolphins die in The Faroe Island

By Kirsten Massebeau

Welcome to Champions for Cetaceans first daily scoop. Each Day I will be presenting a cetacean event. I plan on making these posts very short in order that I may have time to put them up daily. That will allow subscribers to have a daily look into important ocean, and cetacean issues:


On September 23, 2012 a pod of 25-30 pilot whales was driven into the shallows Vestmanna in the Faroe Islands and slaughtered. The method is described here. Although the meat is poisonous with Mercury and other PCB’s the grinds continue. Since June 16, 2012  636 pilot whales have been slaughtered.

23.09.2012 Vestmanna 25 218 Grindahvalir Rakstrar- og drápspartar

Link for the above data and grinds for current and past years 

The grind was reported on Vagaportal.fo as is every grind.

The grind is opposed by cetacean conservation groups worldwide because:

1) “The work has revealed damage to fetal neural development, high blood pressure, and impaired immunity in children, as well as increased rates of Parkinson’s disease, circulatory problems and possibly infertility in adults”.  (Source)

2) The killing method is inhumane as noted by WDCS International who have asked the Faroe Islands to stop the dolphin slaughters (Source)

3) The hunt is unsustainable. Pilot whale numbers are data deficient (Source)

In addition, dolphins have large brains very similar to mans as explored in this article on Dolphin Way

Champions for Cetaceans supports and end to this cruel hunting of dolphins. We appeal to the Faroe Islands to find a way to live in peace with these amazing beings. By ending the hunt they will also make the work load easier for the next generation of Faroe Islanders that will end up the caregivers for those negatively impacted by the toxic dolphin meat.

Please join us on Facebook: Champions for Cetaceans

Behind the Faroe Grind

By Ady Gil Faroe Islands, Koltur

Located northwest of Scotland between Norway and Iceland lie the Faroe Islands a magical archipelago in the North Atlantic ocean. The inhabitants of this beautiful place are the Faroese. Proud descendants of Norse settlers  they have prided themselves for 1200 years on their ability to survive in this remote area. Today the population is approximately 48,565 (source)

Rúni Nielsen, Faroe Islander, and Earthrace (ECO) chapter leader describes what life has been like for the Faroese of days gone by,

I’m Faroese and proud of it. We a very small group of people who have been on the brink of extinction many times. We have our own unique language which has survived intact despite the enormous pressure from 814 years of colonial oppression from foreign powers. The Plague tooks it toll in the 1300’s and again in 1400’s. 400 years of fighting off pirate attacks from the French,Ottomans, Dutch and others. Danish trade monopoly in the Islands prevented a proud and strong stock of weather beaten people to prosper in peace. During all these years, the Faroese kept their society despite dwindling in numbers (at one time approximately only 4000 people were left). We kept the parliament rule and structures in general. During WWII we sailed in wooden ship (sloops) to fish from Iceland to Great Britain where mines, submarines, and fighter planes infested the waters. Unarmed so to speak, each ship had only one single handheld machine gun. But we sailed and delivered the fish to feed a much bigger nation in need and peril. Many 1000’s of faroese lost there lives at sea. (Rúni Nielsen ECO Ch. leader Faroe Islands)

Near Vágur, Faroe Islands August 8, 2012 By Rúni Nielsen ECO Ch. leader

On August 8, 2012 a grind took place near Vágur. 196 pilot whales were slaughtered. On the following day another grind took place on the shore of Hvannasund. There 40 pilot whales were slaughtered. The meat is then distributed amongst the islanders.

Total count 459 whales for 2012. Total skins distributed 3279. 1 skin is 75 kg (165.5 lb) of food. 3279 skins x 75 kg (165.5 lb) /skin = 245925 kg (54,2172 lb) of food, 246 metric tonnes (54,2331.6 lbs). Inhabitants 1st of March 2012 48386 (10,6673 lb)  5.08 (11lb 3oz) to each man, woman and child if evenly distributed. Recommended maximum consumption per month pr 70 kg of bodyweight for adults is 300 gr.” This equals 116126 kg (25,6014lb). Over exploitation is thereby 129799 kg ( 28,6157,81 lb), which equals 242 too many whales taken this year already compared to the public recommendation. Keep it in mind that we here have calculated with a share for each and every man, woman and child. It is not recommended to feed to children or women in childbearing age. (Rúni Nielsen ECO Ch. Leader Faroe Islands)

Pilot whale meat for sale, Faroe Islands 2012. Photo by Sasha Alazy

Why the strict regulations on the consumption of pilot whale meat? Due to worldwide pollution heavy metals and PCB’s have accumulated at the top of the food chain. Whale and dolphin meat is known to contain high amounts of Mercury and PCB’s,

It was Dr. Pal Weihe, Chief Physician from the Faroese Department of Occupational Medicine and Public Health, and a leading researcher into the effects of mercury on people that eat grind meat, who said as far back as 1998 that his own Government should ban consumption completely to date, this hasn’t happened although a recent advisory notice from Faroese Food and Veterinary Authority (June 2011) halved the original 1998 recommendations from 10kg per person per year to just 4kg with additional notices surrounding consumption by girls and women of child-bearing age, and children. (source)

By Rúni Nielsen ECO Ch. Faroe Islands near Vágur, the Faroe Islands July 8, 2012

What will and won’t work to end the Faroe Islands dolphin drives? Dolphin activist Sasha Alazy who recently returned from the Faroe Islands shared his insight:

My personal experience from the Faroe Islands is the following: To solve problems, you have to stick to the truth and listen to both sides. Every story has two sides. Insults, aggression, discrimination and hatred do NOT help whales but builds support for whaling in this island country – it makes things even worse for the whales! Interference annoys them and creates solidarity, making things more difficult. We must learn that we cannot solve problems with violence or force change. If people understand this and put that “enemy image” aside, that would be a huge support for the anti-whalers. As my esteemed colleague Leah Lemieux said: ‘If you want the Faroese to become friends with whales, you must first become friends with the Faroese.’ (Sasha Alazy, dolphin activist)

Eco chapter leader for the Faroe Islands Rúni Nielsen suggests three objective reasons for ending the grind:

1. Not suited for consumption because of contaminant,

2.Unsafe killing method – even if immensely improved- different circumstances make in tangent to animal cruelty,

3. Pilot whale could be and endangered species. (Rúni Nielsen ECO Ch. Leader Faroe Islands)

The toxicity of whale and dolphin meat will most likely be the cause of ending whale and dolphin hunts worldwide.

…Earthrace Conservation believes that ultimately, it will be the health risks of eating whales that will end the hunts that outrage the anti-whaling lobby, and not the protests or physical confrontations that make the headlines. (source)

Join the Discussion on Facebook at Positive Changes in The Faroe Islands