Faroe Islands: Brutal story behind blood-red waters surrounding European outpost

Hundreds of dolphins have been killed off the Faroe Islands during a controversial hunt.

WARNINGGRAPHIC CONTENT: Images taken on Wednesday show a handful of luxury boats sitting moored around a wealthy European island. Close to shore, the waters are a deep red, but the colour is not from a picturesque sunset.

Moments before the photo was taken, Faroe Islands locals slaughtered hundreds of dolphins in two bloody hunts called grindadrap. In one event alone 269 were killed, but the number taken during the second one is unknown.

“They are still pulling bodies up for slaughter from the second ‘grind’ in Leynar,” Valentina Crast, a Danish campaigner told Yahoo News Australia.

A Faroe Islands harbour with red water close to shore. Boats on the water.
Waters around the Faroe Islands turned red with blood on Wednesday (local time). Source: Sea Shepherd UK

Another series of pictures taken by Sea Shepherd UK show dozens of carcasses lined up on the shore with their gizzards spilling out. Although they’re known as pilot whales, the creatures are actually one of the world’s largest members of the dolphin family.

Is killing hundreds of dolphins a rare occurrence?

While the number killed this week is high, in 2021 the Foroese slaughtered 1428 white-sided dolphins in front of children. This prompted worldwide condemnation and a call to end the hunts.

Every year boats herd dolphins and whales passing by the island towards the shore. Large groups of men then drive steel poles into the animals’ blow holes, carrying out what they argue is a cultural practice that dates back hundreds of years.

Dead pilot whales lined up along the Faroe Islands coast.
Pilot whales lined up along the Faroe Islands coast. Source: Sea Shepherd UK

While animal welfare groups have called for the hunting drives to be banned, in May a Faroe Islands whale researcher told Yahoo these campaigns have only “strengthened” the resolve of locals to continue their tradition.

Campaigners have called on the European Union to ban the grindadrap, saying the animal cruelty involved is unacceptable but locals maintain the practice is simply a communal way of gathering food.

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