Operation Bloody Fjords Eyewitness Account: Team 8
Tuesday, 14 Nov, 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 8, based in Klaksvík, witnessed the Hvannasund grindadrap 29th August 2017 (46 long-finned pilot whales killed) and the Bour grindadrap 31st August 2017 (29 long-finned pilot whales killed).
“Witnessing a grind first hand was truly an eye-opening experience. In a place otherwise so quiet, it was unnerving to see the locals so animated once the Grind had been announced. The first Grind we saw was at Hvannasund, scene of several Grinds in 2017. We witnessed the whole process from the driving in of the 50 or so pilot whales through the slaughter, the butchering and the distribution of the meat and blubber. As the pilot whales were driven to the shoreline by the small boats the intensity of the thrashing bodies grew. Hooks were sunk into the blowholes and the whales were dragged onto the shore in a sadistic game of “Tug of War”. We witnessed whales seemingly bashing their heads against the stones in a frenzy.
Those involved in the slaughter were at waist height in the blood-stained water, making the incisions just rearwards of the whales’ heads which allows the blood to drain out. Others were using the “grindaknívur”, a whaling knife, to sever the spinal chord. We witnessed and recorded several of the whales still thrashing after the knife had been used and in some cases the knife was used up to three times in order to kill the whales. We recorded whales still twitching and moving for up to a minute after the cuts had been made. For over an hour, including after the slaughter had taken place, the small boats and the fishermen attempted to drive one lone whale onto the beach without success. Eventually they gave up and left the whale swimming in the blood of its family.
We stayed with the lone whale for several hours into the night while it circled exhaustedly in the area of the slaughter. As dusk settled a rigid inflatable came speeding out of the village and tried unsuccessfully to run the whale over, killing it with the propeller. Shortly afterwards two small pleasure boats came out and I had the opportunity of going on one of these boats to see the whale close up. The owner had come to check on the wellbeing of the whale and advised me that he didn’t expect the whale to survive the night because of the exhaustion and trauma. The whale could barely surface to breathe. We returned in the morning and the whale was in exactly the same spot, still alive, but after further checks later that day, it was nowhere to be seen.
We witnessed the butchery of these whales, and the whales that were killed at Bour two days later, and spoke at length with the locals. The children seemed to have a morbid fascination with the entrails and in particular the teeth. We recorded children attempting to remove the teeth of several whales with nothing more than a pocket knife as well as removing slices of what appeared to be a tumour on one whale. We met with foreign tourists who were appalled at the process.”
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.
Read the introduction article with links to all six eyewitness accounts: "Operation Bloody Fjords update: Covert patrols documenting the slaughter go completely undetected by the Faroese government