Faroe Islands’ Annual Tradition of Whaling Draws Storm on Social Media (Warning: Disturbing Images)
Whaling in the Faroe Islands (Photo: Twitter, chicaZoe1)

A tiny island population off the coast of Denmark is in the eye of the social media storm because of their annual tradition. Locals of the Faroe Islands carry out whaling during the summer months and the pictures have made it to social media. The pictures are disturbing and the activity has drawn widespread condemnation but there are arguments to be made on both sides of the line.

Whaling as an activity was regulated through international cooperation to prevent many many species of these giant mammals from disappearing off the face of the Earth after indiscriminate whaling during the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1946 the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling was signed by a collection of countries to aid in the protection of the whales as an species.

It wasn’t until 1986 that the international whaling convention fully banned commercial whaling in the hopes that some species could replenish themselves.

However, a few countries continue whaling on the grounds of this activity being necessary to feed their population as well as it being part of their ethnic heritage.

Faroe Islands

One of the islands, the Faroes - a self-governing country within the Kingdom of Denmark since 1948 has an annual tradition of whaling that the local population participates in during the summer months. Many Faroese consider the whale meat an important part of their food culture and history and every one from the young to the old participate in whaling.

Whaling in Faroe Islands

Over the years, the Faroese government has regulated the activity of whaling minutely to include when, where and how to do it.

When a school of pilot whales is sighted near land, the message is relayed to boats out at sea who then begin to push the whales close to land where the Faroese are ready with their equipment.

Whaling in the Faroe Islands is done by hand and the equipment is regulated as well.

Whale hunting equipment is legally restricted to hooks, ropes, a specially-designed Faroese knife to cut the whale's spine, so it dies within seconds and assessing-poles for measurement.

Once ashore, the pilot whale is killed by cutting the dorsal area through to the spinal cord with a special whaling knife, and after cutting it, the whaler must make sure that the whale is dead; before he cuts the neck open, so that as much blood as possible can run from the whale in order to get the best quality of meat. The neck is cut, but only after it has been killed. While cutting the spinal cord, two arteries are cut as well which makes the area around the hunted whale run red with blood.

This annual tradition is ongoing in the Faroe Islands and pictures were posted on social media platforms by tourists who witnessed it for the first time as well as anti-whaling activists. The pictures are disturbing.