The killing of black dolphins on Faroe Islands – why and how does this happen?

Faroe Islands – a picturesque place to relax on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Many tourists come here to enjoy the beautiful wildlife, but not everyone knows that for several days a year the sea water here turns red, and there are screams for kilometers from the coastline.

The annual massacre of dolphins

The killing of dolphins in the Faroe Islands in Denmark is a centuries-old tradition that locals have been observing since the 10th century. This is a legitimate activity in which men of all ages participate while their women watch this spectacle. Several times a year, all Faroese gather along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Several times a year, the grind population is reduced by several hundred goals.

Why are dolphins killed in the Faroe Islands? Where does the grind hunt take place and how does the world community react to such activities? The answers to these and other important questions are in our article.

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Historical reference


Whaling was an important part of the life of the Norman tribes as early as the 9-10th century. This is due to the harsh climate of the area, in which it was impossible to keep pets or grow vegetables and fruits. The meat and fat of fish, dolphins and whales formed the basis of the diet of local residents, their skin and processed organs played the role of household items – ropes, floats, etc.

Important! In the Faroe Islands, there is no killing of whales; it is the activity of the inhabitants of Greenland, another autonomous region of Denmark.

Meat and today plays the most important role in the diet of the inhabitants of Faroe. It is still difficult to grow cereals, fruits and vegetables, so the Faroese’s diet is based on fish, seabirds, black dolphins, whales and sheep. Still, the need for food is not the main cause of these killings. What is the matter?

Whaling in Denmark: Reasons

Whaling in Denmark

No matter how it sounds, but the killing of dolphins is an important part of the culture and history of the Faroese, which they are not going to abandon. Undoubtedly, there is also an economic factor in this activity, since the meat of slaughtered mammals is butchered, salted and dried for further consumption, but still the majority does it “for fun”.

Interesting fact! In the Faroe Islands, dolphin meat and fat is not sold in stores and is not served in restaurants, as the Greenland Eskimos do with whales. Everything received as a result of the killing of mammals is eaten directly in the families of hunters.

According to the inhabitants of the Faroe Islands themselves, grindadráp – the so-called dolphin hunt in Denmark – is a competition that allows them to feel their roots, the strength of their ancestors.

See also: Culture, cuisine and attractions in the Faroe Islands .

Culture features
A collection of people look at the killing of mammals.

Look at the killing of mammals going to residents of all ages. This is a traditional event even for kindergarten pupils, who then display what they saw in their drawings and collect whole exhibitions from them.

There are other references to this unusual tradition in art. For example, the bulk of the paintings by Samal Johnsen-Mikines, one of the artists of Denmark, are represented by images of dead dolphins and the hunting process. Some of them are still kept in the Torshavn Art Museum.

Where? How? When? More about hunting

Grindadrap is an annual event held in the summer. The choice of the period is explained by the peculiarities of the dolphins themselves, it was at this time that the grind begins the migration period, and they swim quite close to the shore.

Grindadrap - dolphin slaughter

Anyone can participate in grindadrap and this process occurs as follows:

Dolphin paddock on boats
  • Faroese on boats go to the open ocean to find or lure a flock of dolphins;
  • Having found the target, whalers surround mammals, moving boats in a wide semicircle;
  • Narrowing this semicircle gradually, they drive the dolphins into the bay or to the bottom of the fjord;
  • When the victims find themselves in shallow water, the hunt itself begins.

The main protests against the killing of grind dolphins in the Faroe Islands are caused not so much by the very fact of slaughtering mammals, but by the way and the cruelty with which this is done.

The fact of zoology! Black dolphins always swim in numerous flocks, blindly following the leader. As soon as the Faroese manage to lure one grind to themselves, the rest follow him to certain death.

Harpoon Kills

Only in recent decades have animal welfare organizations managed to force the Faroese to abandon the cruel hunting method that was used several centuries ago – harpoon killings. With this weapon it is impossible to kill immediately, so the wounded dolphins remained alive even when they were dragged ashore and began to carve.

The new weapons are special spears that kill the grind in 1-2 seconds. The blow is sent to the brain of the mammal in order to touch the main arteries, stopping blood flow through which leads to instant death.

An important fact is that although legislation allows (and even encourages) hunting for dolphins in the Faroe Islands, there is a strict list of bays and fjord exits in which this can be done. There are 23 of them, the largest: Boyr, Khvalba, Erawuyk, Vagur and Sandur.

A bit of history! To kill dolphins, always needed a lot of people and boats, so in the Middle Ages the Faroese, to notify the rest of the discovery of the grind, lit a fire on the shore. Today, this information is broadcast on television or distributed among the inhabitants of the islands.

Dolphin slaughter statistics in the Faroe Islands

Dolphin slaughter statistics in the Faroe Islands

Every year, from the hands of the Faroese die from 800 to 1000 grind. It is important to note that this amount makes up only a small part of the population of the species (about 130,000) and over the year their number is restored to its previous level. It is for this reason that animal rights organizations are not able to achieve the cessation of this activity.

Who is to blame and what to do about it: opinion of the world

Dolphin killing permitted by Faroe Islands law

Firstly, it should be noted that the killing of whales and dolphins is permitted by the law of the Faroe Islands, and not Denmark, which the world community makes its claims. In addition, the grindadrap and the authority of the International Commission on Whale Fishing do not apply, since dolphins are small cetaceans and do not fall under the protection of this organization.

It’s important to know! Faroe Islands are an autonomous region of Denmark. He independently manages all issues that are not related to foreign policy and defense.

To date, there is no effective solution to this problem. Moreover, some countries and organizations recognize the right of the Faroese to hold these kinds of traditional events, which are part of the country’s culture.

Most likely, the killing of black grin dolphins in the Faroe Islands will not be stopped in coming years.
And what do you think: what is more important to keep traditions or animal life?

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