Faroe Islands dolphins massacre met with outrage—'this is truly sickening'

Over 1400 of Faroe Islands' dolphins were killed in a mass hunting spree on Sunday

Over 1400 of Faroe Islands' dolphins were killed in a mass hunting spree on Sunday
(Image credit: Getty)

A mass slaughter of over 1,400 Faroe Islands dolphins has been met by widespread outrage, with both hunters and animal rights activists condemning the horrific act. 

A super-pod of white-sided dolphins was brutally killed by knives at Skalabotnur beach in Eysturoy after being driven into shallow waters by jet skis and sea boats. They were then dragged ashore to be distributed for human consumption. The bloodbath, which was allegedly committed by unauthorized hunters, has been slammed as ‘brutal’ and ‘unnecessary’ by campaign group SeaShepherd. 

The hunting of sea mammals, known as the Grind or Grindadrap in Faroese, is a longstanding tradition on the Faroe Islands dating back hundreds of years and was recently touched upon in Netflix's Seaspiracy. While pilot whales, the largest of the oceanic dolphin, are primarily targeted during these killing sprees, white-sided dolphins are sometimes also caught in the practice. 

However, a slaughter of this scale is unprecedented in Faroese history. According to government records, 35 white-sided dolphins were caught in 2020 and 10 in 2019. This week’s massacre marks the country’s largest-ever hunt of white-sided dolphins, exceeding the previous record of 1200 in 1940. 

Why were dolphins killed in the Faroe Islands?

Pilot whales and white-sided dolphins in the Faroe Islands are primarily killed for the distribution of non-commercial food. Its supporters believe that it makes sense to take advantage of the country’s natural resources, like its sea mammals, to provide nutrition for its population. 

In fact, there’s even an old proverb in the Faroe Islands that says, “Eat whale meat and blubber, then you will grow tall and strong.”

Opponents of the practice argue that the killings are not only cruel and senseless but potentially environmentally devastating. Anti-whaling campaigners have warned that the practice, especially when unregulated and unlicensed, could lead to the extinction of some whale species.

While members of the public took to social media to show their outrage, with one describing the scenes as "truly sickening".

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The hunts are normally greenlit by the area's Grind master or foreman, but Sunday's slaughter allegedly took place without any approval from the appropriate authorities. SeaShepherd has also claimed that many of the participants in the hunt were not trained in the practice and employed improper techniques when slaughtering the dolphins. This lack of training exacerbated the barbaric nature of the act, resulting in the sea mammals dying a slower and even more painful death than they would have in routine killings. 

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Where are the Faroe Islands and which country do they belong to? 

The Faroe Islands are located between Scotland and Iceland and have been owned by Denmark for over 200 years. 

What is the population of the Faroe Islands? 

The population of the Faroe Islands is just over 53,000, with about 20,000 of this number living in the capital city of Tórshavn.

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.