OP. BLOODY FJORDS - FAROE ISLANDS 2018

WARNING - GRAPHIC CONTENT - ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT 'SEA SHEPHERD UK' For permission to use images - email: media@seashepherduk.org

OP. BLOODY FJORDS - FAROE ISLANDS 2018

WARNING - GRAPHIC CONTENT - ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT 'SEA SHEPHERD UK' For permission to use images - email: media@seashepherduk.org

WARNING !
IMAGES AND VIDEO ARE PROVIDED TO RAISE 
AWARENESS OF MARINE CONSERVATION ISSUES 
AND MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ALL VIEWERS OR YOUNG CHILDREN
14th June (failed) grindadrap - Sandoy - 4 long finned pilot whales
Crew Testimony:
At approximately 18:30 on the evening of the 14th June reports started to appear on local websites of a pod of long finned pilot whales being located off the coast of Sandoy, one of the southern islands that form part of the Faroe Islands. This came as a surprise and shock, the weather had been poor for over 24hrs with high winds, rain and low visibility due to fog and mist.  We travelled to Sandoy via the local ferry service, only serving to reaffirm our disbelief that a drive was being attempted in these conditions as the ferry was heavily rocked by the winds and high waves.
Once on the island we drove to Sandur, one of the allocated killing bays.  By this time the pod had already been terrorised and harassed for over 2 hours, report on the local websites appeared confused and unclear with some reports suggesting the pod had escaped, or some reporting that the Grind had been called off.  Once at the beach it was clear that neither was accurate. Numerous cars were parked along the road that overlooked the bay, we noted that this included the local police patrol car.  As we approached we located a gap in the parked cars and pulled observe what was happening to the pod.
Given the weather conditions and two hours of harassment it was clear that the pod was already exhausted and terrified at this point as the pilot whale family circled in a tight formation together, despite not being in the bay only one boat was needed to hold them in that position. At that point the saddening realisation that the local participants had already attempted to drive the pod onto the beach at least once before we arrived, with three pilot whales laid dead on the beach.  This was odd indeed as once the drive begins the aim is to force the entire pod ashore so that the “trained and certified” grind participants can swiftly murder the entire pod – though it is claimed this approach is more humane for the whales, it was to us more evidence that this was an ill-considered and desperate attempt to complete a grind so that the locals could have their evening entertainment and family event.
We continued to monitor as prospective participants in the impending Grind laughed and joked together, though it was also apparent that there was no clear plan or organisation to what was happening with some changing into waders, attached their “traditional” knives to their belts whilst others were getting back in cars.  Over time the pod was very slowly maneuverer closer to the shore, though the lack of organisation continued to be apparent as more and more participants started to move away from the beach to their cars. 
Cars started to leave the beach, whilst the solitary boat continued to hold the pod in place; the only time it moved from its holding position was to circle the pod – clearly intent on maintaining their fear levels, keeping them stressed and tired.
We moved to a position closer to the beach, offering a better vantage point whilst also bringing us closer to the pod itself.  At this point we could start to hear the cries of the pod, no doubt driven by a combination of fear, stress and of course mourning the loss of three family members.
Continuing the theme of disorganisation and uncertainty amongst the locals, cars started to return to the bay with some individuals again changing their clothing.  People again started to gravitate towards the beach in small numbers.  It was at this point that we spotted some participants starting to lay the rope and hooks that are used in the brutal and bloody battle of tug-of-war that occurs when the pod is driven on to the beach. 
Incredibly despite fading visibility and no change in the bad weather the locals were intent on murdering the pilot whales.  It was clear to us at this point that any form of an organised and “humane” approach had been abandoned in favour of fulfilling the bloodlust.
Boats started to appear from the nearby harbour and began to line up near the pod, ready to use fear and panic to drive the pod forward to the awaiting “crowd”, except it wasn’t a crowd at all; best estimates were that 25-30 people were on the beach waiting.  For a pod that numbered an estimated 100 this was extremely concerning as if they pod as to be driven onto the beach there was quite clearly that there were not enough people to ensure that the “humane” killing could be completed, many would remain stranded on the beach forced to watch on as family members would be slaughtered whilst suffering themselves through being out of the water.  Again these were not the acts of clearly thinking, trained and certified people with an organised plan.  These were the acts of desperate people eager to make their kill
In the water, more evidence of the lack of thought and planning as the small boats were tossed and thrown it the rough waters; the evidence was plan to see, even for the untrained observer, the weather conditions were too bad to be able to complete a grind.  Yet the locals persisted as the boats on occasion, due to the combination of strong waves and desperation to drive the pod forward, drove into the pod and clearly rode over the top of the pilot whales.  Adding yet more suffering to the already exhausted family who’s suffering now exceeded three hours.
So disorganised was the approach that as the boats pushed the whales to the shore, the locals waiting to make their kill were totally out of position and were forced to run from where they had setup their ropes to where the boats were pushing forward.  We watched on incredulously as locals ran into the water to be met with high waves crashing down on them.  On multiple occasions we watched as locals attempting to get to the nearest whale were pushed back ashore, often being knocked off their feet due to the force of the waves.
Sadly one whale was captured and murdered, blood starting to run back into the sea and the family that had just witnessed a forth family member killed.  After a period of inactivity, the boats started to turn and head back to the bay.  Locals on the beach started to return to their cars and it became evident that these certified killers had finally, after more than four hours, come to the same conclusion we knew to be true before the pod was even sited; that being that the weather conditions were such that a grind was never bound for success.
We stayed and watched the pod, fearful that another attempt would be made.  It was at this point that the pilot whales once again displayed there compassion and family values; we noted one isolated whale alone and away from the rest of the pod.  Rarely submerging and moving very slowly alone, it was obvious that this whale was either injured from the shambolic attempt to drive the pod, or was so exhausted that simply moving to survive had become too much.  The remained of the pod, rather than escaping to freedom, moved to the isolated whale to bring it back into the pod.
The pod remained in the bay, free and no longer under duress for several hours, exhausted from their ordeal and clearly protecting the weaker family; eventually they escaped into open waters over 8 hours after their torture began.
24th July grindadrap - Torshavn - 51 long finned pilot whales
30th July Grindadrap - Sandavagur - 135 long finned pilot whales
Crew Testimony:
We heard a grind was going to be happening, and we went there immediately. We walked casually towards the beach, pretending to be just tourists. We saw the pod coming closer - they had already been driven for about two hours.
Families and people who had come to watch were sitting on the rocks by the beach, while the hunters were gathered on the sand. I got my phone out and started to livestream it, before going down to the sand. I could see the waves starting to turn red.
When I got on to the beach, everything was red. The water was thick, not like water anymore. It was covered in scum. Waves of blood were washing over my legs.
As soon as a whale was beached, people would yell and run towards it to hook it. There were lots of children and families there. They were all having fun, like they were at a football match. It shocked me how much they were enjoying it. I saw children with blood spatters on their lips.
We found the harbour where they were bringing them in. They were lining them up, gutting them, then piling them up in a corner. It was completely heartless. There were even some baby pilot whales with birthmarks on them, which means they were born just a few weeks ago.
16th August - Hvannasund grindadrap - 87 long finned pilot whales 
and 12 Atlantic White Sided Dolphins
Crew Testimony 1:
As we waited for the pod to be driven onto the beach, local participants on the shore laid out line after line of rope with blunt hooks that would soon be used to drag Pilot Whales out of the water to be killed. The level of excitement among the locals was clear to see, young children ran around playing as parents talked and laughed which seemed to be in total contradiction to the events that were about to unfold.

Sitting on the rocks watching the pod move closer to the bay, a jet ski rushed passed joining the boats being used to push the pilot whales and dolphins to the beach it struck us just how far removed from a “tradition” this could be given the extensive use of modern technology, the innocent lives about to be lost stood no chance against this modern as opposed to traditional activity.

As the pilot whales approached and the locals rushed into the water the expressions of joy on their faces looked more like those of a football fan rushing the field to celebrate their team winning a tournament, rather than those of someone about to brutally end the life of multiple sentient beings. As a whale was pulled from the water in front of me by multiple men that appear range from as young as 15 through to late 40’s or older, the cries broke out.  The sound of fear and panic was clear for all to hear, yet fell on deaf ears of the participants who continued to laugh and take pleasure from the brutality.  Watching in horror as whale after whale was dragged from the water, crying and fluke kicking out to try and escape a death that appeared neither compassionate, humane or respectful.  What really struck me was the chaos and the lack of organisation or compassion these “trained” professionals displayed at the expense of the Dolphins and Whales.

Numerous times those designated to make the fatal blow in a humane way failed, sometimes leading to 3, 4 or even more attempted kill blows; horrific to witness and devastating for the defenceless whale whose last moments of life were filled with pain, suffering and terror.  Witnessing this brutal macabre scene is soul destroying or anyone with even the smallest level of compassion for a sentient being. The participants scrambled over bodies of those recently slaughtered to drag the next family member through the blood of their relatives toward their own bloody death.  While further up the shore those watching on continued to smile, laugh and enjoy the brutality before them.  It is difficult to comprehend the disconnect between the two scenes.

As the number of brutally slaughtered whales mounted on the beach, attention turned to those still in the water; at this point I noticed the young children on the boats.  Already aware of how to terrorise the graceful pilot whales and dolphins at such a young age, at that moment the dread and fear that future generations will not have learnt from the past and will continue to slaughter the marine life until the oceans have been damaged beyond repair.
Participants could be seen exiting the water, blood stains covering their faces and a look of joy and satisfaction on their faces, reaffirming my belief that the Grind is nothing more than a blood sport akin to that of the gladiator battles in roman times…surely society has moved on from those times?

As the slaughter ended its amazing how quickly those that looked on and watched this “entertaining” afternoon dissipate, leaving those designated to move and butcher the whales.  As I walked round from the bay to the harbour where the bodies were being taken, there pilot whales and one dolphin broke our hearts once again.  Somehow escaping the death that met their family members, these compassionate beings were circling in the harbour where their relatives bodies were being taken, refusing to leave the waters despite the obvious risk to their own lives; such is the level of dedication and commitment to family that these amazing cetaceans have!  What lessons we as a society could learn from them and what a different world we would live in if we could!
Crew Testimony 2:
Upon arriving at Hvannasund it was clear the locals were expecting whales to be driven here. We divided up the team but stayed within sight of each other and I was the first to reach the killing beach. Straight away I noticed the ropes led on the ground for around 100m along the beach with hooks just beyond the waterline. Soon after I spotted the pod on the fjords horizon. You could feel the atmosphere change in the area right away, the participants starting to get into groups near the ropes laughing and joking like this was some fun event. 
Before I knew it the pod was close to the shore with the noise of the boats forcing them closer to the shoreline. The distress within the pod was clear, the flukes slapping the water along with the cries and screams of the dolphins. As soon as they got within a short distance the crowd descended into the water like it was the beginning of a race to retrieve their first kills. I was shocked at the complete lack of incompetence of most of the grind foremen, who are apparently trained in killing pilot whales and dolphins quickly and humanely, this was far from what they tell people. Time after time I watched as they thrusted the spinal lance numerous times through the body to try kill their victims, the screams and cries that will stick with me forever as they died a horrific death.
As I was documenting pilot whale after pilot whale being pulled out of the water onto the bodies of their family members a group pulled out an atlantic white-sided dolphin. Its screams stood out to me more than the others as I began to film what I thought would be its last few seconds of it's life. A grind foreman came over with a lance and failed to fully get the lance in to end the dolphins life, even though it was clear the dolphin was still alive and thrashing he moved onto his next victim. The participant next to him right away began to cut open the dolphin to bleed out, it was clear this dolphin was feeling everything still at this point as it was being tortured. Every time the whale killer went to leave, the dolphin would thrash about trying to swim away even though its head was hanging by a small part of skin - time after time the man would return to the cut and cut further into the dolphin hoping to cut something vital and stop it from showing their incompetence. It was clear it didn't want to die and was fighting for every chance of life it had. 
The Faroese claim is it takes 5-15 seconds to kill a dolphin, this victim went through 110 seconds of torture. There was no respect, empathy or compassion shown to this dolphin and any of the other victims I witnessed it was much longer than they let people believe. This outdated barbaric tradition is not needed in this day and age, and its clear they don't they follow their own regulations to ensure they have quick humane deaths. It's time to stop this madness.
Crew Testimony 3:
On arrival to Hvannasund, we could see a build up of cars up and down the road and a large number of people around one of the main bays. There was a sense of excitement about them with a lot of males with knifes heading down the slipways to the bay, all looking out to the water. In the distance out to the sea you could see a line of boats of all different kinds heading towards the bay. It was hard to see any finns or splashing at first. A couple of older men were laying out the ropes and hooks along the bay as more and more people gathered on the sides, some with wet and dry suits on some with knifes some just there but all with excitement building as the boats came closer. By this time, families of all ages and tourists had filled the area.
As we were set in place, the boats with children of all ages were shouting and hitting the sides of the boats, rounding up the pod of whales and forcing them to the bay.

The Slaughter!! - It happened extremely quickly, the hoard of Faroese monsters rushed in to the water with hooks and long ropes in hand! The Whales were of different sizes, some absolute giants, some the size of a tall human adult, in a different world, to see one that close would of been a privilege, they are magnificent creatures, beautiful grey/black bodies with a long white marking underneath which forms the shape of a heart that sits just under their bottom jaw, they have pointed golden teeth and big human like eyes that when looking at you, you see wisdom but unfortunately that only lasted a short time as all I could see in them was panic and fear!
The sound of the whales calling out, to what I think was each other was gut renching..as the first whales were beaching, I watched as the young calfs pushed themselves against there more larger adults, mother or father I not the sure but I knew they were looking for protection as any other child would do. I stood there, 2 foot in front of me was a peaceful giant that has had no intention of harming any human and was only there on that bay because a tradition for bloodlust had put it there was crying for help, asking me to step in front of this barbaric human that pushed a large hook through its fluke and more of them that proceeded to pull it more on to land, as it thrashed about trying to move back a barbarian ran to it with a medieval tool, placed it on its head...and pushed! Her tail rose up in the air, then slapped the water, the whale was still. Another man quickly cut through the whales large head and neck like it was butter, he used a large knife that looked very ceremonial and he was clearly proud of! Blood poured from the whale, not green or blue but a thick red, just like ours a manuals blood. The peaceful being that had swam the oceans with little or no knowledge of man had been taken from its home, from this earth because of human tradition. I moved over to look in to the whales eye, I could see nothing now, only what looked like a long line of tears that ran from the corner of its eye and down to its mouth. The last moments of that beautiful creatures life had been panic and fear. This was an intelligent being that knew when it felt the hook and steel press against its head that its fate was sealed and at that moment I believe it wept! Just as I would if I was in that whales place. 
I will remember this till my last day.
21st August - Sandavagur - 75 long finned pilot whales in the 10th grindadrap of 2018
29th August 2018
Hundreds of young Fulmars killed in Hvannasund
Bøur - 5th September 2018
Pilot whale tagging by the Faroese at Bøur not only involved a stressful 3.5 hours of a pod of 20-30 pilot whales being chased by boats - but one of the five pilot whales tagged on release was found to be almost dead from injury or stress and was brought back to the bay by a Faroese RIB and was killed and butchered
Grindadrap at Hvalvik of Atlantic White Sided Dolphins - 11th September 2018
Syðrugøta grindadrap of long finned pilot whales 21st September 2018
Pilot whale products for sale in the Faroe Islands
The 15 grindadráp hunts and numbers of dolphins and pilot whales killed in Yr 2018 were as follows:
22nd May at Syðrugøta - 145 Long finned pilot whales
8th June at Hvalvík - 11 Atlantic white-sided dolphins
14th June at Sandur - 4 Long finned pilot whales
30th June at Borðoyarvík - 26 Long finned pilot whales
24th July at Tórshavn - 51 Long finned pilot whales
30th July at Sandavágur - 135 Long finned pilot whales & 1+ Bottlenose Dolphins
30th July at Tórshavn - 38 Long finned pilot whales
31st July at Húsavík - 22 Atlantic white-sided dolphins
16th August at Hvannasund - 87 Long finned pilot whales & 12 Atlantic white-sided dolphins
21st August at Sandavágur - 75 Long finned pilot whales
29th August at Hvalba - 4 Northern Bottlenose whales
5th September at Bøur - 1 Long finned pilot whale
11th September at Hvalvik - 210 Atlantic white sided dolphins
16th September at Norðragøta - 12 Long finned pilot whales
21st September at Syðrugøta - 51 Long finned pilot whales

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