POLL: Should the Faroe Islands’ whale slaughter be allowed to continue?

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For more than four centuries, the dwellers of the remote located 200 miles off the coast of Scotland have been killing pilot whales for blubber and meat.

Recently, the gory tradition has piqued the interest of an American photographer with ties to the region who travelled to the archipelago to capture the horror and grotesque beauty of the annual whale hunt.

Benjamin Rasmussen, of Denver, visited Faroe Islands, a protectorate of , to shed light on the startling practice in which entire villages go out in boats, herd pods of pilot whales close to shore and then cut their necks, turning the waters red with blood.

Red with blood: Dead pilot whales float in the shallow water as a crowd of onlookers watches the rest of pod being brought in on Faroe Islands during the annual whale kill
Grisly custom: The participants of the hunt cut the trapped critters’ spinal cord, killing them instantly

After the hunt, which takes place every summer, the blubber and meat of the slaughtered animals is distributed among all the members of the community.

‘It is an incredibly bloody and horrific spectacle, but so are the factory farms and slaughterhouses that raise American beef, pork and poultry. It is just that those abattoirs exist behind closed doors,’ Rasmussen told the blog FeatureShoot.

For years, animal rights activists around the world, including the non-profit organization Campaign Whale, have been railing against the practice of killing whales, calling it inhumane, barbaric and completely unnecessary. It is important to note that pilot whales are not an .

However, the Faroese, who number around 48,000, are extremely protective of their cultural heritage and customs, chief among them the whale hunt, which dates back to the 1500s.

Cultural phenomenon: The tradition of the Faroese whale hunt harks back to the 1500s
Community affair: Men and women perform the traditional whale kill chant and dance before slaughtering whales at the Seaman’s Day celebration in Klaksvík on August 21, 2010

In the past, the inhabitants of the archipelago relied on the whales’ meat for sustenance, but it is less popular now due to high levels of toxins like mercury and PCBs.

In 2008, the chief medical officer in the Faroes recommended that the meat and blubber of pilot whales were no longer fit for human consumption. Recently, the Faroes Food and Veterinary Agency said that people should not eat whale meat more than once a month, while women of child-bearing age were urged to avoid it altogether.

The hunt, known in the local language as ‘gridadrap,’ gets under way at dawn when a pod of whales is spotted off shore.

The hunters lure the animals to a predetermined beach by hitting the hulls of boats with metal and wooden clubs, and then get them on the hook.

Set sail: Pilot whales surface as they are brought into a shallow bay in the town of Klaksvík. The men in the boats hit metal and wood against the hulls to scare the whales and move them closer to shore
Main course: The pilot whales’ meat and blubber is divided up between everyone in the community

Once the whales are in shallow waters, the participants of the hunt sever the trapped critters’ spinal cord, killing them instantly.

Rasmussen, whose father is a native of Faroe Islands, had spent part of his childhood there, eating whale meat and blubber.

He noted that the tradition, so cherished by the inhabitants of the remote archipelago, may soon come to an end since the young generation does not have a taste for whale meat.

Pilot Whale Slaughter, Faroe Islands June 5, 2012 from Viva Delfinus on Vimeo.

We invite you to vote FOR or AGAINST the continuation of the Faroe Islands’ . Please vote and also leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Should the Faroe Islands' whale slaughter be allowed to continue?

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The editorial content of this article was first published by the Daily Mail.


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Christine Chris

Somehow there must be an end. It's horrible…

Gama Leong


Francesca Galli

Spero che tutte le persone che hanno votato a favore possano crepare delle malattie più bastarde e strazianti, che possano arrivare al punto di desiderare la morte perché non sono più in grado di sopportare il dolore, dovete crepare nella vostra indifferenza e cattiveria. Siete FECCIA per il nostro pianeta.

Chloe McGovern

Just because something has been dome this way for a few years, or a few hundred years does not make it right. Traditions can be changed. The people of Papua New Guinea were renowned as traditionally eating other humans…should this still be acceptable today? Any tradition that involves such blood thirst and disregard for other lives is no tradition that needs to exist in this day of modern living and better understanding of the suffering that science now recognizes ALL animals feel. This behaviour of dominion by humans no longer has a place.. The time to respect our planet and… Read more »

Twila Snodgrass

WOw no they should not continue this slaughter. We need to stop this before they are all gone. I'm sure there are other things to eat. This is horrible.

Sandra Haus Grady

Using and abusing animals should not be a way of life….whales are
gentle creatures and they may soon be gone forever. As far a food source there a plenty of fish in the sea…not to minimize the life of a fish…but a whale is intelligent and has many human emotions…to treat them this way is just plain cruel.

Tierra Chapman

Custom will reconcile people to ANY atrocity! Our species is LONG OVERDUE to come out of the Dark Ages and into the 21st century with our thinking and our treatment of non-human beings, including these sentient whales that are brutalized in the Faroe Islands. What a mean-spirited, spiritually impotent culture that would continue with such a vile and bloodthirsty tradition. Enough!

Eva Fidjeland

It should be regarded as criminal action.

Suzie Arcadiipane

Haven't we moved on!!! With better education, understanding, there will be pay back. I only hope there is something in that dolphin meat, that will kill a few of them off!!!

Mary Cornell

No- stop killing now !

Jana Smith-Chapman

Stop this tradition. When there were less people and more whales it was ok to fee the entire communithr this way,but no more

Diane M. Gubrud

Come on now, nobody is for whale, dolphin & seal slaughter.

Julya Ferlsan

No more, this is a horrific act, it should be stop now, no more whale slaughter.

Cathy Heikurinen

Disgusting barbaric practice that has to end. I agree it is as horrible and senseless as the Taiji slaughters.

Justin Carroll

Simply NO! barbaric and unnecessary! a disgusting blood sport that must be stopped!

Lana Sheppard

We need to put an end to this

Deirdre Callan

Keeping slaves and burning witches harks back to the 1500's too. Shall we continue to honor those traditions as well?

Katrina Imogen Harris

This is the epitome of Man against creation anything good man Destroyed it

Debbie C. Boone

No… No… No more.. Stop this immediately…

Robert Kinnell

It has to stop!

Joanna Konecka

This rituale must finisht ..is disgusting and without any moral Sense ….its only cruelty! !!!!

Teresa Bonelli

El mar es azul y nos pertenece a todos intacto, como protección y para disfrutarlo como belleza natural ,. motivos suficientes para que las matanzas de ballenas en las islas Feroe o en cualquier otro lugar sean un delito ,

Dani Moore

stop the serial murders , these animals have the same rights then all living creatures , right to LIVE

Kate Dougherty

Good God, NO!

Ganesh Velu

This sort of violent practice is totally not acceptable when the planet is being depleted of everything.We should stop at once and save whatever we have left or face the karma behind this brutal sin..

Carmen Moraes Dos Santos

This barbarity has to stop

Kelvin Wong

YEa, i can say that IF only the slaughter is very quick with the minimum pain,then I'd say it 's ok. But looking at the picture some are still brutal,you don't have to kill a whale in front of other whales that are still alive…..do you understand?? I mean,yea , if we don't waste the slaughter by appreciating it by eating then I wouldn't mind. because we also eat meat, and in order to eat meat….we HAVE to make sure the slaughter is civilised enough and make the least pain for the animals because of us,they sacrificed themselves. So appreciate… Read more »

Dan Konrad Holm


Dan Konrad Holm


Dan Konrad Holm

Of course we should be aloud to do so, go stop cow killing , chiken killing , pig killing , mink killig, go to kina and stop , chinese from eating dogs and cat´s, my point is mind your own f buisnes, this is our tradition, we are not hunting them on open ocean, we are not putting them in cages, just becourse you see a litle blood , grow upp, an then go to your lokal buther and ask him were he get´s his meet from….!!!!!!!

Joe Figueroa

These people are still living in the stone age an very Barbaric, sickening hopefully the young will stop this practice to gruesome.


It is absolutely disgusting to kill the whales for a tradition but nothing else to justify the whale slaughtering. shame on them.

Allison Cowie Lavers

Tradition or not some things need to stay in the past, the Faroese have a much higher standard of living, they don't need to keep up this tradition. It's awful how the Faroese kids are growing up with this perceiving it to be acceptable when the need is just not there. I really hope it becomes a thing of the past, that the kids are educated on conservation and the whales can swim free. It really can happen one day, keep spreading the word and support Sea Shepherds Operation Grindstop launching shortly.

Terri Zunker

These people are murderers, murdering innocent harmless creatures for no reason, they may say they have reasons but there is none, they will be sorry one day

William Moyle

Needs to stop.

Karen Chester

A tradition that dates back to the 1500's? Seriously? Have these people not evolved any further than the 1500's? Wake up Faroe Islanders, it's 2014 now. What was ok and necessary for survival 500 years ago isn't acceptable or necessary now. This is simply barbaric and disgusting.

Terje Egholm

The meat from those pilot whales can be giving to people for food insted to trowing it away, Paul watson are not intresting in the whales but in his buissniss

Terje Egholm

Its menny time on tv that whales dye on the Bech around the world why wil Paul watson not help those pilot whales,

David Moynes
David Moynes

According to Pál Weihe, who is chief physician at the Department of Occupational and Public Health in the Faroese Hospital System, pilot whale is no longer fit for human consumption.

Terje Egholm

It will oso come 22 St ventura afther you with whale haunthing so dont you worry

Terje Egholm

Faroe Island is a small Nationen so it will not be fair to Ask other who dont eat whale meat to voat

Emilio Fuliotti
Emilio Fuliotti

Beautiful place, horrible people…

Yamamoto San

Well Julie, as mentioned to another poster, I respect your choice to be vegan, so I expect the same in return for my choice to eat meat, whether it be beef, pork, whale or whatever I choose

Yamamoto San

Well Cat, I respect your choice to be vegan, eat free range egg or dont drink milk, I expect the same in return for my choice to eat meat, whether it be beef, pork, whale or whatever I choose

Yamamoto San

>> Harry King: How do you think your pork chops or T-bone steak get to the supermarket shelves? do you think there is any less blood in killing a cow/pig than killing a dolphin or pilot whale. You seriously need to go & visit a slaughterhouse and educate yourself a bit, instead of making stupid ignorant comments

Diana Fiorentino

Jens Petur Tróndarson so let's hope you will die one die in this instantly way… let's see how you like it to see killed your loved ones! Karma

Diana Fiorentino

Marius Høgnesen whales and dolphins belong also to US, when do you understand that? they are free in the ocean, they do not live in the Faroes, you steal them when they are travelling and that means that they do not have even a small chance to travel where they want to go. You are emptying the ocean, same as the japanese do, why don't you think at least for once that this animals belong to the world?? Why? Damned we want to see them free and make whale watching in an ocean full of them, but we must search… Read more »

Julie Turek

Bjartur Vest ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL. Can't you see that? I have a problem with all people who harm them
, nationality is not my issue. By the way, did you ever consider you are the one who is bothering me? Or others?

Gloria Reyes

You are a heartless scumbag!

Marius Høgnesen

We grow up learning to do stuff like this, its nothing strange about it, for instance, my father started to learn to cut up a sheep when he was 8 years old, his great-uncle learned him to do it, thats was in the late 50's.
I don't see what so horrible about that kids learn about this at a young age.
We live in different countries, so i don't expect you people to understand our way of life, i can assure you, that if you would grow up her you would say the same, and viceversa 🙂