Pilot whales are truly majestic beings — and yet entire pods of them (as many as 1,000 total whales!) are senselessly killed in the Faroe Islands every year in a cruel “grind.”

Sea Shepherd breaks down the sad details of the whaling method: “The local community heads out in small boats loaded with stones, hooks, ropes, and knives. Once they’ve approached the pod, the boats form a small half-circle behind the pod. Small rocks attached to lines are thrown into the water to create a wall of bubbles to reflect the sonar of the pilot whale. The cetaceans interpret the bubbles as a cliff wall that they must steer away from – because of this, the small boats are able to herd the cetaceans towards a low-lying shore. As the pod approaches land, the boats continue to harass and frighten the mammals until they’re washed up on the shore. Once beached, a knife is used to cut through the veins and arteries that supply blood to the pilot whales head. Some pilot whales suffer for as much as 30 seconds while others can take up to four minutes to die.”

This progression of events has many calling the Faroe Islands the “Taiji of the North.” Sea Shepherd explains: “The slaughter occurs mainly during the summer months in so-called ‘traditional’ communal drive hunts that locals refer to as ‘grindadráp’ or simply, ‘the grind,’ but more accurately this practice should be called what it truly is – mass slaughter.”

Sea Shepherd is intent on stopping all of this. According to Sea Shepherd, hundreds of volunteers will descend upon the islands in Operation Grindstop. The volunteers will patrol the land, sea, and air, conduct investigations, and provide education and outreach about the Grind in an attempt to help stop the bloodshed once and for all. To read more about the operation, be sure to check out Sea Shepherd’s page on the events here. 


Image source: NOAA/Wikimedia Commons