Monday, May 24, 2010

Denmark Dolphin Killing Festival

~ I'm not big on boycotts. But today I became aware of a ‘festival’ so bizarre and disgraceful that I think the country that hosts it, deserves to be boycotted until the event is stopped.

The event in question is the annual pilot whale/dolphin killing festival which takes place in the Faroe Islands. The islands, sometimes Faeroe Islands, Faroe(s), or Faeroes are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland.

The atrocious slaughter you see depicted in the image illustrating this post, has been practiced since at least the 10th century, with around 1,000 creatures killed annually in the “grindadráp” (whale hunt) typically occurring during summer months.

Not surprisingly, the hunting of pilot whales/dolphins by residents of the Faroe Islands has long been a subject of controversy, and for good reason.

Although the International Whaling Commission enacted a ban on commercial whaling in 1986, pilot whales seem to be exempt because technically they are members of the dolphin family. To compound the problem, the Faroe Islands is one of the parts of the world where the IWC's rules still allow for subsistence hunting of such cetaceans.

As usual, supporters of the hunt maintain that the practise of killing pilot whales is "an age-old communal, non-commercial hunt aimed at meeting the community's need for whale meat and blubber." They also claim the animals are dealt with so quickly that their pain is brief, and that whale meat accounts for a quarter of the Faroe Islander's annual meat consumption.

Conservationists, on the other hand charge that the hunts, which take hundreds of whales at a time, are barbaric and pointless; that "the practice is outdated, cruel and unnecessary for a place with one of the highest standards of living in Europe." As if that is not enough, most of the whales go to waste - either being left on the beach to rot or thrown back to sea after they are killed.

While the Scandinavian countries have long been on my list of regions to visit, I for one will never visit Denmark, the Faroe Islands, or Greenland while this atrocious practice continues.

Visit this site for more images and links to videos which show this barbaric event in all its gruesome detail.


  1. I would like to make some comments on the margin of this article, otherwise quite pertinent and, to be honest, one of the fewest that tries to explain something in a polite way, without insulting or being too passioned.

    "The event in question is the annual pilot whale/dolphin killing festival which takes place in the Faroe Islands."

    I am a Romanian living in Faroe Islands and, believe me, I have no reason to defend them without reason, my loialities lie somewhere else. But, I am sorry, you make a horrible mistake. It is not about a "festival". No one celebrates something like that, it is just a hunt, nothing more. Faroese people have indeed a festival, but that one is called Olavsøka and it is the National Day when people dress themselves in national costumes and there are parades, singing and dancing in the street, boats races, fireworks and nice things happen. But there was never about a "festival" of killing whales. I guess because Olavsøka happens in the summer, when the hunt takes place also, people hurried up to make a "combination" and invent this "festival".

    There are a lot of misconceptions about Faroe Islands because of this erronate information that travels on the Internet and it is smartly suggested in order to raise the idignation of the, otherwise, well-intentioned people. No one knows anything about these islands. How small they are, who scarce the local food resources are (as an example, the farming land is about 28 km2, does it tell you something?). How expensive the life is actually here, where every single thing is imported.

    "As if that is not enough, most of the whales go to waste - either being left on the beach to rot or thrown back to sea after they are killed."

    God, how mean can be such an afirmation!! Let me tell you: almost all is used from the whales, the only thing they do not eat are the bones and some of the internal organes. I read that they are let to rot on the beaches, as Faroese are so imbecile to let rotten carcasses on a beach 150 m long and 50 deep at a few meters away from the house. Now I read that most of the whale is "thrown back" in the sea.

    An by the way, last year there where killed around 300 exemplars, two years ago none. 1000 whales per year is not a real number. There were, in the nineties, when they had economical problems and people were losing jobs and houses. But not anymore.

    It scares me how many inventions appear on the net (like these ones: children have a free day to see the killings, it is a ritual of passing to manhood, the people aplaude and encourage the hunters, the hunters drink heavily during the hunting and so on), how easily people let themselves being deceived, without trying to hear also the "accused", letting them speak up. It is easy to blame a very small nation who does not have any way to defend against a whole world deceided to put them against the wall.

    It is a pitty people try to bring such a bad fame to this small country, which, by the way, it is absolutely charming and I dare to say that is your own loss you don't want to visit it. Even National Geographic declared it as being "The most appealing destination" in 2007.

    Let me be clear: I do not try to find excuses for anyone, I just believe that people should get the facts right and know both sides of the story. I hope I managed to explain some things.

    Have a very nice weekend!

    PS. Yes, Faroe Islands are part of Denmark, but there is a separate country with parlament and prime-minister, laws and language very diffrent fron Denmark, with their own anthem and flag. The only "dependency" is territorial and there is also a part of the judiciary system that is still Danish. If you want to insult them, you call them Danes :D

    1. Danish people, really?!! How absolutely appalling! Our ecosystem needs these beautiful mammals to balance Earth. What a crime to see such a Godlike creature being killed. Arrest them!

  2. Hi, so then i have some questions. Do the people of Faroe Islands really need dolphins or whales in such big amount to eat them? Don't Faroe Islands get a kind of support from Danemark? We are finally in the 21th century, there is enough possibilites to organize some transportation of any necessary foodstuffs.

  3. @Anonymus, first of all, there is no "big amount". There are a few hundreads that are hunt per year. Per year, in 2 to 6 hunts maximum.

    Second: what support? Faroe Islands is a separate country and has its own economy. Again, doesn't depend on Denmark in any kind except territorially, worse, we pay with 20% tax more than the people in Denmark, because a lot of money goes to them. The only thing that hindered their independency is the reluctance of Denmark to give up to them.

    As a simple example, everything gets imported, everything costs up to 50% more than in Denmark, which is, by the way, the most expensive country in Europe. And the salaries are much-much lower. Just a small, very small example, a kilo of any kind of meat (pork, beef or lamb) costs around 20€. The taxes are up to 67% of the salaries. Just to get an idea.

    Sorry for answering so late, I did not see the message till now.

  4. i think 300 is actually quite a big amount for an animal that is near extinction. the way they are killed is brutal. It's just as bad as the Japanese and you ARE defending your country, which is fine. But don't you see that these harmless, helpless whales are being killed in a terrible way? You could survive without killing them! It's unfair to them. They are one of the smartest sea creatures and you put them in a situation of stress and misery. It makes me sad and angry that you don't see that.

  5. why is it a problem that we kill whales, when you can kill sheeps, cows and chikens in your country? they are just as innosent as whales ..

    and then i'd like to tell you, that there is nothing called a "Pilot whale festival" .. we have one kind of festival here on the Faroe Island, and that is music'festivals .. so pleese stop saying shit like that, when you don't know anything about it !!

    1. killing sheep, cows, chickens is a bad practice....but killing a sentient sea creature that is smarter than the ones you mentioned is pure evil. Dolphins exhibit human like behavior in that they have a family status and are playful as well. Let me know when was the last time a cow, a chicken or a sheep played with you.

  6. Dear Anonymous,

    Last time I heard, sheep, cows and chicken were not on the brink of extinction. Use your brains... sometimes. Oh, sorry, you were probably too busy killing whales...

    So if you have a music festival, you can kill? Or just because some other idiot nation kills you should kill too? That's some stupid ass logic...

  7. @M.Diehl, I was trying to present some facts, not to find excuses. Loonk, only by writing there "you ARE defending your country" you show me you have not even read entirely my comments. I am actually saying in the begining of the first one, that I am from Romania, but I live in Faroe Islands. I don't owe anything to the Faroese, but on the other hand, I can not stand back and relax when people continue to bash this country for the same things that millions are also guilty of. As a person who witnessed all kinds of animals being slaughtered, I can assure it is nothing more cruel than killing a pig or cows, as for an example. It is just done in open air, Faroe Islands does not have the luxury of slaughter houses' walls and people who are used to buying meat nicely cleaned and packed in the supermarkets react violently, not even thinking. It is your right, though.

    And pigs are just as intelligent. But they are ugly, dirty and don't jump, isn't it? Stress? Do you know that a pig or a cow feel they are supposed to be slaughter? Have you ever seen the terror in their eyes when they know what comes? With what is this more ok than hunting whales? Keep in mind: the delimitation between which animal has the right to be considered suitable for food and which one not is hypocritical. There is absolutely no difference.

    I would add only one thing. The long finned pilot whale is not a specie "near extinction", this is one of the reason Greenpeace has never interfere. I know what Paul Watson sustains, but many of his declaration are made in order to squeeze tears and impress and don't have a scientific base. Not killing 300 exemplars per year will extinct an entire specie, but polluting the oceans will do. And I can assure you, that pollution is not done by 48 000 people who have almost no industry. Is done by countries like yours. This is the really danger, but no one seems to see it in their rush to lynch somebody.

    PS. As a simple curiosity: how much are you paying for one kilo of pork and what's the medium salary in the country you live? We can make a comparission afterwards.

  8. And for the @Anonymus who commented right above of me: there are enough sites where people use violent words, don't you believe it would be nicer if we don't start insulting each other, even if we don't agree?

    I'm sorry, exactly as I wrote above, none of the animals deserves more or less to be killed for our food, but we (humans) are, in end, carnivore and we'll continue to need meat. If not whales, than deers or birds or ... By the way, in Norway they eat reindeers, why is no one militating for it, too? They are also cute and, in the end, Rudolf is one of the most popular characters for kids.

    And by the way, the other Anonymus you've answered to, tried to explain (maybe not with the right words, but I can understand his indignation) that the idea of a "festival" of killing whales is an utter lie and it does not exist. How would you feel if we would come and insult you and your country just because people do something we don't agree with? Oh, I'm sorry. You hide behind an "Anonymus" nickname, we can not know whom to address...

    PS: Read the above comment. This ridiculous idea peple got about Faroe Islands has to stop. Not believieng lies and act indignately will make you more noble.

  9. Hi Folks, it's good to see some discussion taking place about this important issue, and I hope we can keep it civil and reasonably polite given the passion the topic is generating.

    The recent discussion has sent me off looking for more information about the practice and I can highly recommend reading this Whaling in the Faroe Islands entry in Wikipedia which also provides figures on the exact number of creatures killed over the past 60 years (including 310 in 2009).

    The saying "A picture is worth a thousand words," comes to mind here. Images of beaches and water running red with the blood of slaughtered pilot whales speaks volumes against the killings as practiced in the Faroe Islands.

    Would there be as much opposition if the Faroese were able to catch and kill these whales in a less dramatic and public way? Probably not, which is why there is little opposition to the slaughter of cows, pigs, sheep and chickens, etc.

    This is conducted away from the public gaze, under reasonably humane conditions, and as someone has already pointed out - the end product reaches consumers via the local supermarket packaged neatly in small quantities which barely resemble the original animal it came from.

    Maybe the practice will stop or die out for a different reason. Quoting from the Wikipedia entry: "...pilot whale meat and blubber contains too much mercury, PCBs, and DDT derivatives to be safe for human consumption."

    If the Faroese begin developing ongoing health problems from the consumption of pilot whales they may simply give up the practice and turn to healthier alternatives. Personally, the sooner they do that the better in my opinion.


  10. @Jim, I have to take my hat off in front of you(Romanian saying, a way of expressing appreciation for someone). I really liked your input and I must thank you for that.

    If you would like to know more, I also reccomend this movie: It was done by an English guy and it is one which I believe is very realistic. Explains a lot about Faroe Islands in general and, even if it presents an actual hunt (between 5:01 and 7:10) you can get a general idea about why is so important for the Faroese to mantain this practice that has thrown them in the spot light and not in a good way.

    And there is this one too: It's made by an American journalist, Ralph Grizzle, who was fascinated by Faroe Islands and who actually witnessed a whalehunt and talked about it in another article, on the same site.

    People are actually giving up to the whalemeat, the ones who listen to the warnings. That's why there is that significant drop in the hunted numbers in the past years. Other people complain, very justified otherwise, about the countries that have poissoned by pollution one of their main food source. The debate is a two-way street and I believe is a little bit petty to cast stones only at the Faroese, as some stubborn do.

    I've never enjoyed the whalemeat, is not my piece of cake. But I'll speak for them as long as I can. I like to believe I am capable to present the facts as they are, not finding excuses, not hiding behind my fingers and, most of all, not trying to insult anybody. I appologise if I did that, it was without any intention.

    Maybe all these made you a little bit more willing to visit Faroe Islands one day, it is quite a little paradise, in my humble opinion. Apart of grindadráp (as it is called in Faroese).

  11. @Lygia, I watched the 20 minute JourneyMan.TV film and half way through realised that I have seen many of the company's other films on Australian television, although I missed this one when it was originally broadcast.

    There are some very beautiful places in the world, and the Faroe islands certainly seem to be among them, and maybe I will find my way up there one day.

  12. how much smart do these people think themselves!? There are differences between "hunting" and "slaughter" that you don't know! you are letting out your hidden and restrained brutal ego while you kill these animals it seems to me that these animals are actually human beings and u are the brutal beasts!

  13. This is crazy!! I also read that the killing is done to prove adulthood. More like insanity i'd say!!. I wonder how the Faore people would like to feel the pain and suffering for a change if they were hunted with spears and ripped part. We are living in the 21st century but these people are still barbarians!! Killing innocent animals just for the fun of it is absolutely pathetic to me and then they call themselves humans!! Disgusting!!

  14. I am so saddened to learn about this cruel massacre of some of the gentlest inhabitants of our oceans..I wished that more of us would be made aware of these horrific killings, and I will support any boycott of Denmark until this is achieved. Knowing that these ruthless killers will face their destiny eventually, it is little consolence in the eyes of so much innocent blood shed and innocent beautiful animals killed...

  15. Just GO Vegetarian..!!

  16. oh my...first i hear about this...see, i think i would appreciate it if they killed sharks instead...cause honestly...the ocean would be much better without them...and dolphins are just cute and smart...ahhh...
    its like going to the zoo and killing all the trap them, and then BAM BAM BAM POOW! SLASH! oh..there goes a friendly monkey...

  17. I read everything you wrote and watched the video and though I can see your point of view I can't in good consciousness agree with the killing.I know it's tradition and it's been that way forever and yes it looks absolutely beautiful and charming there. But it just deeply disturbs me all the laughing and smiling some of the people did when talking about the whaling. I also see the point being said about cows and chickens, so on and completely agree. Thank goodness I don't eat meat of any kind.

  18. that's a gruesome act, killing such wonderful creatures. This thing should culminate as it is inhumane and an asinine act to show one is becoming an adult; GO TAKE something like a Bar Mitzvah and a Bat Mitzvah. please take up the onus to save our creatures and our world.

  19. Btw, humans do not need to eat meat to survive.Any nutrients necessary to live a healthy life can be found in plant sources with the exception of vitamin b12. Carnivores? Please.

  20. We in the Us are just as barbaric.Just go to any meat factory, or slauter house and see how truely humane we are. WHAT YOU WILL SEE WILL SICKEN YOU INTO NO LONGER EATING MEAT FROM ANY SUPERMARKET EVER AGAIN.aLSO HUNTERS IN THE US DEER HUNT.fOR THE BIGGEST BUCK WITH THE MOST POINTS ON ITS RACK.Cutting the head off,and leaving the rest of the meat in the field . Not all of them do this,but to many its all about the biggest rack.Not putting food on the table.

  21. Ditto with Kimberly and Anonymous Jan 27. I too don't eat meat for the reason that all these creatures, whether it be whales, dolphins, cows or pigs, are sentient beings - they all think and feel like humans. And to hunt them down for our own consumption (especially when we can get adequate nutrients from plant life and grain sources) doesn't feel right by any standards. There is no such thing as killing "humanely" - not in slaughter houses or out in the open. It's killing a creature that wants to live just as much as we want to live.

  22. OK so I honestly do not care for anything that's been said. I saw videos of the cold heartless wa of killing these defenseless animals. Really? Festival or not or whether the whales rot in the beach or they use every bit of it. Its sick. It doesn't matter if its japan, Denmark, or some little island or even if it was the united states, I don't care. Just as well I would be ashamedand discusted if this happened where I lived. Really? Let's have some freaking humanity in us and not be so freaking cold blooded and freaking find a better way to do such a thing. We are human beings let's act like such. We all have minds we can make a less gruesome way of doing this instead of having people rush down hills or sail on boats and hook these animals drag them to shore and stab them and let them bleed to death. And that's what the most decent people did the more inhumane people went and just stabbed and chopped them up while they where still alive. I don't need information facts or any of that. I saw enough to know as a civilized human being that this is beyond wrong. It discuses me to know people find this okay.

  23. I am Leslie the one that commented of how I don't care f anything except what I saw and I musttt say I strongly admire and respect the way @Jim leases approached this. Absolutely perfect could have not said it better.

  24. Well let me make this clear. NOT every country has the same rules and beliefs. What and how the Faroese people do things in their country, we as U.S. citizens or where ever you're from, have no right to tell them what they can and cannot do. You don't own them; you're not the Prime Minister. It may seem cruel to most people that whales and dolphins are being slaughtered for their meat. It seems like you've forgotten something important. Every country has their own delicacies that have been passed down through generations. And that's including certain animals used for their meat. Now, the only way it'd be a huge uproar, is if the animals were near extinction and on the endagered list. So since the Pilot whales are not on the endangered list, no one has any right to tell them to stop hunting them, unless it were the Faroese people themselves since they are their own country. Everyone needs to survive one way or another. Most people prefer to have meat in their lves than to become a vegan. Now as for the whole "open" slaughter goes, not everyone has the luxuries for slaughter houses. So most places have no choice but to slaughter out in the public. It's almost like goingto a fish market and seeing them fillet a fish in front of you. Except, filleting a fish isn't as gorry as seeing any other animal being slaughtered. Sorry, if this comment sounds offensive or rude to anyone but, I'm just giving my opinion.

  25. what the F is wrong with these people? we should protect dolphins, not kill them! hope they burn in hell.

  26. dolphins have mercury...mercury causes retardation:)

  27. I think that this is very brutal. but if people knew what was happening in there countries so they could have meat. They would all realize that even know we are in the 21st century we all are still barbarike. We all can point fingers and say that something someone else is wrong in what they do. but if people could just realize that were all the same this world be a much more peace full place.

  28. Leave them alone. Worry about the mess in your own home,your neighborhood, then your city, then your country first. Pretty sure you found worst problem then whale hunting such as: drug, the hunger, corruption....

  29. a sign of the times.... countries falling, corruption everywhere, nuclear disasters in Japan.... ongoing dumping of nuclear waste in Chernobyl... Animal cruelty going on from all countries..... pollutants so bad that some lakes in Canada are being wiped out of all aquatic life.... as the lakes need to be shocked before new aquatic life is introduced... oil spill so grave in the gulf off Texas that is draining all our energies to help heal the aquatic life infected by corporate greed.... we are all interconnected in this promised land we call the global village garden.... a sign of the times indeed..... is this more barbaric than allowing nuclear energy to exist....? ...or global warming to continue...? we are all in this vehicle about to reach our pivotal point of no return....! why is everyone arguing where to sit....! ? instead of stopping the insanity...! coming from a free range country that hunts wild animals in their natural habitat is one thing.... forcing these animals and or mammals to live in the pollutants we call progress makes this hunt look civilized... just saying.... what difference does a whale hunt make seeing we are the GMO's genetically modified organisms that science speaks of.... we will all have to become vegetarians as our existence will soon depend on it.... thank you to the writer of this page for explaining the view point of the locals.... in Canada we have a seal hunt that I do not always understand but am told its important for our ecology... funny as they have not removed the mercury in our streams... the acid rain in our lakes..... as well as the fact that the largest fresh water system in the world is so polluted that the fish are harmful to eat by the people..... pigs chickens and cattle are abused by farmers and big business as to feed those who .....! ....if they had to hunt and kill there own food would probably be vegetarians instead of performing the deed.... Peace out

  30. Boycotting Denmark as a whole just because of one little festival that happens on one of their small autonomous dependency is kind of hypocritical. That is akin to boycotting the USA because of some cruel festivals that happen in some rural areas. Dogs are actually eaten in parts of Hawaii, and from what I have heard they are often not killed in ideal ways. Whaling occurs on some Aboriginal territories. There are also some inhumane hunting methods that occur very often.

    Refusing to visit the entire Kingdom of Denmark because of a cruel activity that only a few on a largely autonomous territory makes much less sense than boycotting the USA because of some dog killing that happens in Hawaii (which by the way is not autonomous at all). It is also punishing millions who have nothing to do with with the <1% who actually do. Mainland Denmark is quite progressive when it comes to animal welfare, for example they mandate stunning even for religious slaughter. There are better ways to protest activities than boycotting.


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