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Image: Peter Flood

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21 Pilot Whales Killed In Latest Faroes Hunt

WDCS is saddened to report that in Sandavagur, on Vagar Island the latest drive hunt grind took place with 21 pilot whales killed. This brings the total for the season to over 600 whales.

This hunt follows 70 pilot whales killed in Hvalba, and at least 196 pilot whales killed on August 8th in Vagur on the southernmost island of Suduroy.

This has been a devastating summer for the pilot whales around the Faroe Islands. WDCS reported the first grind of the summer season on May 16th which occurred in Trongisvágur, Suduroy, where 63 pilot whales were killed. The next grind occurred on June 5th on Sandur, Sandoy, where 125 pilot whales were killed. And then on July 10th, yet another grind took place at Klaksvik on the northern island of Bordoy, where approximately 43 pilot whales were killed.

Viewer Beware: Footage of the aftermath of the June 5th grind can be viewed here.

The hunts can be carried out in any of 24 sanctioned bays around the Faroe Islands, where sandy beaches make it conducive to driving the pilot whales close to shore among the 18 main islands. Although there is no formal scheduled drive hunt season, the grinds often occur in the summer months, as early as May and can extend through August as the peak season for mating and giving birth for pilot whales occurs during this time, bringing the pods closer to shore. However, hunts can occur opportunistically all year round. 726 pilot whales were killed in 2011; and 1,107 pilot whales were killed in 2010.

The drive hunts, or the grinds as they are known in the Faroe Islands, are an extremely inhumane practice where entire family groups are rounded up out at sea by small motor boats and driven to the shore where they are killed in shallow bays. Once they beach, blunt-ended metal hooks inserted into their blowholes are used to drag the whales up the beach or in the shallows, where they are killed with a knife cut to their major blood vessels.

WDCS believes that the driving, dragging and killing, all of which takes place within view of their pod members, is intensely stressful and cruel. Pilot whales, and other species, including bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic white-sided dolphins and bottlenose whales, are still hunted for their meat in the Faroe Islands.