Commentary

Operation Bloody Fjords Eyewitness Account: Team 7

Monday, Nov 13, 2017

As part of our ongoing Operation Bloody Fjords campaign to end the slaughter of dolphins and pilot whales in the Danish Faroe Islands, Sea Shepherd coordinated ten weeks of covert land-based patrols from July to early September. Centrally coordinated by Sea Shepherd UK, the crews were based in six different Faroese towns covering 19 designated whaling bays. During the ten weeks our volunteer crew, who used their personal vacation time to blend in with other tourists, managed to document nine separate grindadráp. We are now sharing the personal accounts of six of these teams and the images they recorded, one each day for six days.

Team 7, based in Tórshavn, witnessed the Torshavn grindadrap 18th August 2017 (61 long-finned pilot whales killed), the Skalabotnur dolphin hunt 21st August 2017 (48 Atlantic white-sided dolphins killed), and the Klaksvik Harbour Open Day pilot whale butchering 19th August 2017.

“The Klaksvik harbour open day was like any event we would see in our own local ports. There was local food freshly caught and prepared including a UK style “chipper” van selling fish and chips. There was entertainment for children and helium balloons (most of which were released into the sky by accident). There were various vessels allowing visitors the chance to come on board, which included the Brimmel and a Danish Navy war ships, both offering tours on board and a chance to see round the bridge or go out on their fast boats. Inside two or three boxes there was various crab and small fish species which the children were free to pick up and handle. There was also a stage at the entrance to the harbour providing everything from knitting competitions to some very talented musicians playing traditional music and various other scheduled events throughout the day. One of these events was to watch the butchering of a pilot whale that had been caught in a previous grind. It was transported there and frozen until the day of the event.

The pilot whale was just along from the stage and lay out on a crate. It had the expected markings on the flipper to indicate its weight/length and also had 155 etched into its skin below its eye. As expected the whale attracted regular attention throughout the day. It was mostly from curious tourists and children. The children would climb on it, kick it and stick their fingers in its eye socket and blow holes. People including the Danish navy would stand round it drinking and laughing. The whale was shown as little respect in death as it had been in life before it was brutally slaughtered along with the rest of its pod.

When the butchering event started, the man on the PA system announced that this was a demonstration of what pilot whaling was. The demonstration would be in English and not Faroese. There were lots of tourists there from nations such as Scotland, Spain, Italy and the US. With the Faroese being very knowledgeable on the subject from a young age, this talk was to try and explain whaling to tourists. The talk went straight in with the usual arguments that would be made to justify this continuing and why it is done. It was then explained to the crowd how they were caught, the process for killing them and how the meat is measured, calculated and distributed to the locals in that distribution area for that killing beach or people who had participated in the Grind. The talk then moved on to how the whales were hooked in the blow hole and dragged up the beach. This did not sit well with everyone. One tourist at the end asking how they could consider this to be humane.

A team of assistants them proceeded to fully butcher the whale. First the blubber sections were removed in slabs followed by the meat and put to the side of the pallet. How the various preparations of the meat for eating was them explained, and it was also mentioned that the flipper as among the best-tasting of it. During the butchering the usual ridiculous emphasis was placed on this being the same as how everyone else eats pigs, cows or chickens killed in an abattoir even though this pilot whale was a free and wild cetacean that was taken from the oceans. This was also backed with the claimed fact that they are not endangered even though the North Atlantic population numbers are unknown.

It was explained that they do not hunt the larger baleen whales, which is true, but at NO stage in this demonstration was it mentioned that they also hunt other dolphin species such as Atlantic white-sided dolphins or that they have mistakenly attempted to harass and drive other whale species only a few weeks earlier.

Towards the end of the butchering, the toxicity of the meat was brought up. It was explained what the poisons are, what they are caused by and the concerns for their health eating it. Even with these concerns they ended the talk by informing the tourists that there would soon be freshly cooked whale meat and blubber available for the tourists to try for free in a tent next to the stage. An offer we declined.”

2017 has proved to be one of the worst years for the grindadrap since the mid 1990's with 1203 pilot whales and 488 dolphins killed during 24 individual hunts in the Danish Faroe Islands.

Check back tomorrow for the final report and images from Team 8.

Read the introduction article"Operation Bloody Fjords update: Covert patrols documenting the slaughter go completely undetected by the Faroese government

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