Islands: Sea Shepherd Undercover Operation Exposes Cetacean Mass Slaughter
19, 2010, a pod of 236 pilot whales was ruthlessly slaughtered in the town
of Klaksvik in the Danish Faeroe Islands. Sea Shepherd was able to document
the slaughter through the efforts of an undercover operative who had been
living among the locals in order to capture footage of “the grind.”
The grind is a cruel method of whaling that involves stranding pods of cetaceans
in coves before severing their spinal chords with knives.
Shepherd Undercover Operative Peter Hammarstedt, also First Mate of Sea
Shepherd’s vessel, the Bob Barker, had been living undercover with
the ferocious islanders for a week when he heard news of a grind happening
in Klaksvik over the radio. He immediately drove to the scene. Grossly
outnumbered and unable to physically stop the grind, Hammarstedt documented
the bloodshed upon arrival.
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,”
The Faroese government claims that the deaths of these whales are quick
and painless, but the newly released grisly footage shows otherwise.
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.”
equally apparent that the grind is indiscriminate and ruthless.
had been cut out of their mother’s dead bodies and left to rot on
the docks,” said Hammarstedt, who photographed a number of dead infants
and fetuses. “Pilot whale groups are strongly matriarchal; I can’t
imagine the fear and panic that these mothers must have felt as their families
were wiped out in front of them.”
Faroese pilot whale grind is similar to the annual Taiji dolphin slaughter
in Japan, documented in the award-winning film The Cove. The main difference
is that there are at least eighteen different coves in the Faeroes where
a grind could potentially take place, as opposed to one cove in Taiji, making
it all the more difficult to anticipate where the killings will occur or
to get there in time to intervene and prevent the murders.
Pilot whales cut out of their mothers' bodies and left to rot
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.
order to gain access to the grind, Hammarstedt had been posing as a Swedish
film student. Even though considerable steps had been taken to conceal
his identity, he was ultimately recognized by several hunters due to his
role in the Animal Planet TV series Whale Wars. Apparently, even the Faroese
have heard of Sea Shepherd’s interventions against illegal whaling
in the Antarctic.
the whale killers began to follow Hammarstedt by foot at a distance, he
quickly escaped to his car where he fled the scene and uploaded images and
footage to get them safely out of the country. With his identity compromised,
he began receiving threatening messages within the hour and was instructed
by Sea Shepherd HQ to exit the country immediately.
heightened scrutiny and police interrogation at the airport, Hammarstedt
has confirmed that he has departed the Faeroe Islands.
Shepherd has been actively opposing and confronting the Faroese grind since
1985 and remains one of the foremost advocates for the whales.
credit: Peter Hammarstedt / Sea Shepherd
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