Groups of local people have gathered on the Faroe Islands to begin the ritual slaughter of hundreds of whales in what are known as grinds.
Despite glimpses of nature reclaiming its spaces whilst people have been locked down during the global coronavirus pandemic, and many reassessing their relationships with the environment, these cruel hunts look set to continue on the islands with around 250 pilot whales brutally killed in recent days.
Pilot whales live in tight-knit social groups and many are killed in front of their family members. Once driven to the shore by a fleet of local boats, 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.
Eventually the whales are cut up for the meat to be distributed to locals despite local health experts warning the country’s population not to eat whale meat because it contains high levels of pollutants like mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and PFCs (perfluorinated compounds).
The contaminants in the whale meat and blubber increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, and even cognitive deficiencies being passed onto children.