Mourning the Mass Murder in the Faroe Islands

Jessica Clarke, Print Staff

These dolphins were being rounded into pods closer to the Faroe Islands to be slaughtered. The pods the hunters killed were rather large, but easy to kill since they were using modern weapons.(Andrija Ilic/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

   On Sept. 12, 2021, there was a mass killing of dolphins in the Faroe Islands of Denmark. Around 1,500 dolphins were killed in a tradition called “Grindadráp” that entails hunters getting together to kill dolphins and whales to then disperse throughout the islands to replenish the food supply. This tradition hasn’t been a very big deal until the really high rate of killings that happened just recently.

   To most, this tradition may seem immoral or cruel, but some believe that it is completely moral and is only done to supply for the community. Grindadráp is named a tradition because it involves using old forms of water transportation and weapons to kill a small number of dolphins and whales. This number is usually much lower than 1,000. Today, if you wanted to participate in this tradition, you would have to have a license. This year’s killing is getting a lot of attention because most people used modern water transportation and weapons, along with participating without a license. 

   Whale and dolphin meat are both important parts of history in the Faroe Islands. The problem lies in having to kill lots of dolphins to get a sufficient amount of meat. If whales were killed rather than dolphins, the amount of whales that would have had to be killed would be sufficiently less. The whales would also supply more meat to the community. So, one might ask, why didn’t they just kill less whales instead of more dolphins? Well, during the Grindadráp tradition, whales used to be killed more than dolphins were. Controversies arose because whale killings were growing more and more as the years went on, so hunters resorted to killing mostly dolphins. As the years go on, whale killings have been recognized as unethical, and since the community at the Faroe Islands would like to be able to keep their tradition going, the people decided to resort to only killing dolphins since they still do give a decent amount of meat. Obviously, this isn’t enough since there was a murder of about 1,500 dolphins.

   After the counting of the deceased dolphins , people were shocked to really see how many were really dead. When hunters realized how many were killed, they knew they were in trouble. Videos were put on the internet of how these dolphins were murdered and it is graphic. The videos involved close-up shots of hunters killing these dolphins while standing in red-stained waters. Once these videos started circulating around the internet, people took notice fast. Big news companies such as Washington Post, CNN and New York Times started releasing articles about the mass murder, catching most people’s attention. One other large group called the Sea Shepherd, watched this killing very closely and made sure people knew about what was happening. Sea Shepherd has been trying to put an end to these killings, but since it is marked as a tradition, the conservation group can’t do much to put an end to it.

   There are many petitions and ways to help online, but for now, the situation is still trying to be handled by the group. The Faroese government also took notice of this, and is looking into putting clearer restrictions in place.