The custom of whale and dolphin hunting, known as grindadrap , is a century-old practice in the Faroe Islands and a key part of the diet of many locals. And many Faroese mention regulations - including rules regarding the slaughter of mammals - aimed at making the practice sustainable as a reason for keeping the tradition alive.
But when more than 1,400 white-sided dolphins were killed there last weekend - the biggest catch ever in the region - and when local media have posted graphic images and a video showing the stranded dolphins dragged into bloody waters , even some hunters were upset.
Now the scale of the massacre, which took place on Sunday near Skalabotnur, the islands' longest fjord, has sparked outrage from animal rights activists and sparked
"Considering the times we live in, with a global pandemic and the world coming to a standstill, it is relatively appalling to see an attack on nature of this magnitude in the Faroe Islands ", Alex Cornelissen, Executive Director of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society , an organization that works to stop whaling, said in a press release .
The whale hunting, and more rarely dolphins, takes place year round in the Faroe Islands - a semi-autonomous Danish archipelago of around 53,000 inhabitants between Norway and Iceland - and this practice is completely legal. Boats collect the cetaceans in a bay, where they are stranded and slaughtered with an instrument that cuts their spinal cord.
Animal rights groups are calling the hunts cruel and inhuman, and the scale of Sunday's massacre has even prompted some supporters of the long-standing cultural practice to speak out.
Government officials said the meat, which is widely distributed free among the community, was shared among several districts on the islands.
But Hans Jacob Hermansen, former president of the Faroese Grind Association, a group that supports the practice, told the local broadcaster Kringvarp Foroya that the killings undermined the work of other whale hunters and fed opponents of the hunts.
Bjarni Mikkelsen, a marine mammal biologist, said some island districts are leaving dolphins alone in favor of whales, which provide more meat, and people have become less supportive of dolphin hunting.
"They are smaller, and the amount of meat for the player is not that big, so it's nothing 'use energy and time, "he said, adding about the great destruction:" You can say that in general no one was happy with this. "
About 265 white-sided dolphins are hunted every year, he saiddeclared, and there are approximately 130,000 dolphins left in the Northeast Atlantic region. According to the government of the Faroe Islands, an average of 600 whales are caught each year out of a population of around 100,000 around the islands.
Sea Shepherd a criticized the hunt as having been started without proper authorization, and said participants did not have a license to kill dolphins quickly, as they usually would. The group also said the footage of the dolphins suggested the animals had been run over by motorboats.
Jens Jensen, a district sheriff for the area , said his authorization to hunt was delayed because he had been hiking in the mountains. He said that given the large number of dolphins involved, he had approved the use of knives - which do not require a license - forr kill them faster.
On Sundays the hunters were looking for whales, Mr Jensen said, and when they spotted the group, they saw At first thought it was 200 to 300 animals. They decided to drive them to a bay in Skalabotnur, he said, noting that it was difficult to estimate the size of the pods during a hunt.
"When they looked at over 1,000 they stopped killing dolphins," he said.
But critics have said that while the local hunt for meat remains open to debate among anthropologists, Sunday's murder was a scandal.
" This atrocity demands that our voices be raised in protest ", Barbara J. King, anthropologist and emeritus professor of anthropology at the College of William and Mary, said on Twitter ." It is not a local custom and it is not a simple 'mistake' of scale. The devastation for the families of the #dolphins is and will be immense. "