Faroe Islanders have continued their centuries old tradition of slaughtering whales in scenes that show this year’s hunt turning the sea red with blood.
The Pilot Whales were herded towards the shore of Torshavn, the capital and largest city of the Faroe Islands during the summer migration of the sea creatures, who were slaughtered for meat during the drive.
In a Facebook post, Blue Planet Society estimate that 130-150 pilot whales and 10-20 white-sided dolphins were brutally slaughtered during the hunt.
Approximately 500 cetaceans have now been killed ‘for food’ in these islands since the beginning of 2019.
According to Sea Shepherd UK, the hunt can take hours to complete. Fishermen trap the animals, and blunt hooks are then beaten into their blowholes. The pilot whales are then dragged onto the sand where they have their spinal cords sliced.
The annual slaughter has courted large amounts of controversy in recent years as pictures of the hunt has become more widespread.
Calls to ban the hunting of dolphins and small whales in Japan and the Faroe Islands continue to circulate, with campaign group The Blue Planet Society receiving over 260,000 signatures for its online petition urging for a ban of the practice.
However, Faroe Islands locals have long defended the right of their community to continue this tradition which tourist officials point out on Visit Faroe Islands is centuries old, and that whaling continues to this day.
The site reads: “The Faroese have eaten pilot whale meat and blubber since they first settled the islands over a century ago.
“Today, as in times past, the whale drive is a community activity open to all, while also well organised on a community level and regulated by national laws.
“Records of all pilot whale hunts have been kept since 1584 and the practice is deemed sustainable, as there an estimated 778,000 whale in the eastern North Atlantic region.
“Approximately 100,000 swim close to the Faroe Islands, and the Faroese hunt an average 800 pilot whales annually.
“The meat and blubber from the hunt is distributed equally among those who have participated.”
However, Public health authorities have warned that consuming the meat may pose a health hazard due to high levels of mercury and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) which are released by industry into the environment. These toxic elements can then end up in the whale meat.
As well as affecting people’s intellectual and neurological development, consuming food tainted with Mercury and POPs can also weaken the immune system, according to Phys Org.