More dramatic photos have emerged from the annual summer slaughter that takes place on a remote island in the Atlantic.
Inhabitants of the Danish-owned Faroe Islands participate in the yearly event which sees thousands of pilot and beaked whales massacred in bays across the islands as locals prepare for the harsh winter months ahead.
The Faroese use boats to drive whole pods of the marine mammals towards the shore, where metal hooks are rammed into their blowholes and their spinal cords are severed. Other revellers use ropes to drag the whales’ bodies into the shore as punters watch on the beach.
This year, disturbing footage has shown that dolphins also got caught up in the brutality, as they were butchered alongside the whales.
The traditional practice has caused widespread disgust, with many campaigners claiming it should no longer be necessary in the 21st century.
However, the Faroese have eaten pilot whale meat and blubber since they first settled in the islands over a century ago. According to the official Faroe Islands tourist site, the whale drive is a community activity open to all, well organised on a community level and regulated by national laws.
It makes the images no less shocking however, as many adults and young children end up covered in blood with entire beaches turned bright red.
Marine conservation group Sea Shepherd documented the slaughter – known as Grindadrap – carried out by a community in Hvannasund.
One watching crew member said:
As we waited for the pod to be driven onto the beach, local participants on the shore laid out line after line of rope with blunt hooks that would soon be used to drag pilot whales out of the water to be killed.
The level of excitement amongst the locals was clear to see. Young children ran around playing as parents talked and laughed which seemed to be in total contradiction to the events that were about to unfold.
Watching in horror as whale after whale was dragged from the water, crying and fluke kicking out to try and escape a death that appeared neither compassionate, humane or respectful.
Witnessing this brutal macabre scene is soul destroying for anyone with even the smallest level of compassion for a sentient being.
Today has been the hardest day I’ve endured.
To have to stand by whilst around 100 pilot whales and white-sided dolphins are forced to shore then brutally killed in such a cruel and agonising way.
I thought I was prepared with this not being my first visit to the Faroe Islands but how wrong I was, nothing can prepare you for this.
The whole ordeal – as more than 180 dead whales cut apart turned the bay in Sandavágur red with blood – lasted around an hour and a half.
Records of all pilot whale hunts have been kept since 1584. The practice, they believe, is sustainable, as there are an estimated whopping 778,000 whales in the eastern North Atlantic region.
On average, 100,000 swim close to the Faroe Islands, and the Faroese hunt on average 800 pilot whales each year.
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