More than 1,400 were killed in the Faroe Islands as part of residents' longstanding tradition of hunting the sea animals for their meat, making it a key part of the locals' diet, and have sparked outrage among activists and even some members of the community who support the hunts.
The large-scale hunt was conducted last weekend and is considered the largest ever hunt recorded in the region. Local news media released graphic images of the scene where the dolphins were beached and being dragged out of bloody waters. The incident has caused even some supporters of the practice to become upset due to the scale of the attack.
Mass Dolphin Killings
Many animal rights campaigners have decried the Sunday incident who have come into arguments with people who continue to support the tradition, arguing they are still acting sustainably. Alex Cornelissen, the chief executive of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which aims to put a stop to whale hunting, called the hunts "appalling."
The Faroe Islands residents conduct hunting of whales, and less commonly dolphins, throughout the year as part of their tradition. Locals use the animals' meat to feed about 53,000 people who are living between Norway and Iceland. The practice is also fully legal, where boats herd the sea creatures into a bay, where the animals are beached and slaughtered with an instrument that was designed to sever their spinal cords, the New York Times reported.
The hunts have been tagged as cruel and inhumane by animal rights groups and the size of the latest hunt drew criticism from some supporters of the hunting tradition. The region's government officials said that the sea creatures' meat is largely distributed among the community for free.
A previous supporter of the hunts, 41-year-old Kristian Petersen, said he joined the tradition when he was only seven years old. However, he said that his village never targeted dolphins. "I have experienced that firsthand and also participated a bit. As long as it has been for food only, I have supported it. But this recent catch that was this weekend, I'm against how it went on," he said, CNN reported.
Criticism of the Inhuman Incident
Petersen is one of many whale hunt supporters who have opposed the large-scale incident on Sunday. He, and many others, said that there were "so many errors" in the hunt. These included pursuing a large flock and prolonging the dolphins' suffering by having only a few people on the beach to kill the animals.
The foreman of a group that drives pilot whales toward shore on the central Faroe island of Eysturoy, Heri Petersen, said he "strongly dissociated" himself from the Sunday killings. The man said that there were just too many dolphins on the shore and too few people to slaughter them quickly.
Every year, island residents usually kill up to 1,000 sea animals, as recorded in Faroe Island data documents. The hunts also included only 35 white-sided dolphins in the traditional event last year. The chairman of the Faroe Pilot Whale Hunt Association, Olavur Sjurdarberg, expressed his concerns that the recent killings would place a negative mark on the ancient tradition, NPR reported.