On July 19, 2010, a pod of 236 pilot whales was "ruthlessly" slaughtered in the town of Klaksvik in the Danish Faeroe Islands, the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd claimed today.
Sea Shepherd says it has documented the slaughter through the efforts of an undercover operative living among the locals in order to capture footage of "the grind." Sea Shepherd says the grind (or grindadrap in the Faroe dialect) is a cruel method of whaling that involves stranding pods of cetaceans in coves before severing their spinal chords with knives.
Faroe islanders have been whaling since the islands were first settled by the norse. It is regulated by local authorities but not by the International Whaling Commission. The Faroese claim to kill about 950 Long-finned Pilot Whales a year.
Animal-rights groups have criticized the hunt as cruel, while locals say that critics lack sufficient knowledge of the catch methods.
Sea Shepherd says its member Peter Hammarstedt, also First Mate of Sea Shepherd's vessel, the Bob Barker, had been living undercover with the islanders for one week when he heard news of a grind happening in Klaksvik over the radio. Hammarstedt documented the bloodshed upon arrival.
"Pilot whales are known to travel in pods of 200-300 members. Two hundred and thirty-six pilot whales were slaughtered last night in Klaksvik: bulls, pregnant and lactating females, juveniles, and unborn babies still attached to their mothers by the umbilical chord. An entire pod that once swam freely through the North Atlantic has been exterminated in a single blood bath," said Hammarstedt. The Faroese government claims that the deaths of these whales are quick and painless, but the newly released grisly footage shows otherwise, he said.
"One whale had five to six brutal chops to her head," reported Hammarstedt. "The islanders basically used her as a chopping board. Her death would have been slow and extremely painful. Some whales are hacked repeatedly for up to four minutes before they finally die." It was equally apparent that the grind is indiscriminate and ruthless, he claimed.
Pilot whales are classified as "strictly protected" under the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. By allowing the slaughter to continue in the Faeroes, Denmark fails to abide by its obligations as a signatory of the Convention, Sea Shepherd says.
Sea Shepherd has been actively opposing and confronting the Faroese grind since 1985 and remains one of the foremost advocates for the whales.
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