There are many good things in the world. One of which is a growing outrage at an an ancient fishing ritual on Faroe Islands (autonomous province of Denmark near Iceland) of bringing youth into manhood by targeting pilot whales (technically dolphins), driving them to shore and killing them. En passant, other dolphins are killed also. Believe it or not, but it’s an annual fest up there.
Meanwhile, these dolphins are some of the kindest & most intelligent sea animals, who are really human’s friend. ‘Are they becoming extinct?’ is another conjured up question.
While it is against the law at the Faroe Islands to hurt animals unnecessarily, this scene of killing is gruesome. The visual display of a sea of blood appears to be utterly barbaric to the sane.
Let’s stop this non-sense and instead prove maturity in wise & gentle ways.
Let’s Look at the Facts
The Faroe Island Statistical Office has published the official numbers for the 2009 drive hunt:
* 310 pilot whales
* 174 white-beaked dolphins
* 2 bottlenose whales
* 1 bottlenose dolphin
killed in three separate grinds.
Method of Slaughter
Caught dolphins don’t die instantly. As per legal restrictions, they are cut 1, 2 or 3 times with knives & thick hooks. I understand that, at that time, the dolphins produce a grim cry like that of a new born child. But of course, instead of being born, they die.
The pilot whale hunt in the Faroes is, by its very nature, a dramatic and bloody sight. Entire schools of whales are killed on the shore and in the shallows of bays. The knives are used to sever the major blood supply to the brain. This is the most efficient and humane means of killing these animals under the circumstances, but it naturally results in a lot of blood in the water.
While whales were the major food supply for the island, it was argued that it is more humane to leave a whale live in freedom all its life, and then slaughter it in a few minutes, than the way we typically treat commercial life stock such as pigs and cows. The latter animals live all their lives in captivity, are unable to choose what to eat, face injections of hormones, etc. and endure quite some stress of transport, prior to their slaughter.
Origin Purpose of the Ritual
The pilot whale hunts at Faroes Islands have been around for centuries and centuries: since 1584.
Its original purpose was to supply the island with food. White whale meat and blubber has been a Faroese specialty for as long as anyone can remember. Given the prior importance of the whales for the islands, the tradition of the whale hunt is a communal affair, completely ingrained in the local culture. The whale meat of this non-commercial drive is not sold in supermarkets. Instead, the annual catch is divided evenly among local families.
However, it is no longer smart to eat any of the hundreds of whales caught and killed. In November 2008 the chief medical officers of the Faroe Islands recommended that pilot whales no longer be considered safe for human consumption because of the levels of toxins in the whales (too much mercury, PCBs and DDT derivatives) .
Furthermore, in today’s Faroes, there is amply alternative food supply. Whale killing has become completely unnecessary.
Meanwhile, there is ongoing debate whether the pilot whale is becoming extinct. This is particularly an issue in the case of Faroe Islands.
So, what exactly is the purpose of these ancient fests other than showing off bravery in the process of the hunt??
It seems a simple conclusion that …
it’s time for a change.
Looking at a Slightly Bigger Scope: Other Dolphin & Whale Hunts
The situation in Faroe Islands are non-commercial hunts. Other such smaller, non-commercial hunts take place in in the Arctic, the Caribbean, Peru, and the Solomon Islands. However, a commercial hunts take place in Taiji (Japan), where annually 2000 dolphins are killed. Their meat is sold in Japanese supermarkets. As well, the Japanese fishermen supplement their income by taking about a hundred dolphins alive and selling them for tens of thousands of dollars each to aquariums in Asia and EAU. Greenpeace is working on this very issue of whaling in Japan, and asking for your signature support.
Seeing to the Bigger Picture of Environmental Protection & Change
To learn more about what is going on in our natural environment and how we can and should protect it better, there are many issues for us to take action on. Greenpeace has done a good job on sorting out some of our priorities:
— > Get Involved
Now is a Pretty Good Time
Just 9 days ago, on July 23, Greenpeace co-founder Dorothy Stowe died in Vancouver, Canada at age 89.
Dorothy was a woman who dedicated her life to making the world a better place for others.
What would you like to be remembered by?
What could you do today to make the world a better place?