Luxury cruise passengers shocked by bloody incident after docking

There are mounting calls for tourists to boycott the Faroe Islands, but locals say they're proud of their bloody tradition.

WARNING — GRAPHIC IMAGES: Cruise ship passengers were shocked when the luxury vessel Ambition moored at a European island where locals were butchering wild dolphins with knives and metal rods.

Images supplied to Yahoo News Australia show water coloured red with blood after 78 long-finned pilot whales were slaughtered by groups of men at the Faroe Islands capital of Torshavn on Sunday.

British cruise ship operator Ambassador Cruise Line apologised on social media yesterday, calling the Faroese Grindadráp a “distressing occurrence”. But conservationists argue the ship shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

The Ambition cruise ship can be seen docked in the background. Closer to the camera, a group of people have dead dolphins tied to their boats. The water is blood red.
The Ambition cruise ship can be seen docked in the background as locals slaughtered whales close to shore. Source: Captain Paul Watson Foundation UK

Why are cruise ships being urged to avoid Faroe Islands?

Rob Read, the chief operations officer at Captain Paul Watson Foundation UK, told Yahoo News Australia cruise companies need to boycott the Faroe Islands if they truly want to see the autonomous Danish territory stop killing whales.

“Cruise companies need to take a stand in support of ocean wildlife and remove the Faroe Islands from itineraries,” he said. “Their continued visits to the Faroe Islands inadvertently supports the abhorrent practice that is the Grindadráp.”

Activists on the ground told Yahoo boats began herding the long-finned pilot whales to shore at around 3.30pm on Sunday. Around 30 minutes later, they spotted locals on the beach with knives in hand, waiting to slaughter the animals, which despite their name are actually a species of dolphin.

A woman with her back to camera, looking at the blood red water. The cruise ship is in the background
Seventy-eight pilot whales were killed by Faroese locals. Source: Captain Paul Watson Foundation UK

Grim details of dolphin slaughter revealed

The bloody slaughter was then live-streamed by Captain Paul Watson Foundation UK. After the dolphins were pushed into the harbour, witnesses reported they were killed in around 20 minutes.

Images show dolphins of all ages dead on the shore. Dead foetuses and calves were also photographed dead inside bins. Men were reported leaving the scene drenched in blood with their knives sheathed in their belts.

While dolphin slaughter on the Faroe Islands is opposed by international conservationists, locals say their tradition is a natural way to harvest food, and that it’s preferable to factory-farmed meat. “We are very proud of this practice and we will continue as long as we decide,” Faroese whale expert Bjarni Mikkelsen told Yahoo in May.

A large group of men slaughters dolphins close to shore.
Opponents of the slaughter have called on cruise ships to boycott the Faroe Islands. Source: Captain Paul Watson Foundation UK
Men with knives and spikes kill dolphins on the shore.
Men with knives and spikes slaughtered the dolphins in around 20 minutes. Source: Captain Paul Watson Foundation UK

What was the reaction to the cruise ship company's apology?

Responses to the Ambassador Cruise Line apology have been mixed. Supporters of the Grindadráp have slammed the company for criticising the tradition.

“You have done the unforgivable — as a guest spit into the face of the host,” one person wrote. “If you don't care for our culture or way of living why are you even coming to our islands?,” another asked.

Others echoed Captain Paul Watson Foundation UK by calling for a boycott. "Stop having Faroe Islands as a destination. Stop tourism to Faroe Islands. End of Story," urged one man. Take your tourism away from this place," another said.

The company argues boycotting the island wouldn't make a difference to local attitudes about slaughtering dolphins and whales.

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