Here’s another story about gratuitous animal slaughter.
Since at least the sixteenth century, Faroe Islanders (the islands are nominally independent but run largely by the Danish government) have participated in slaughtering whales, both long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) and Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus). The whales are herded and beached by boats, or dragged ashore from shallow waters by gaffing, and then killed. As Wikipedia describes:
Once ashore, the pilot whale is killed by cutting the dorsal area through to the spinal cord with a special whaling knife, a mønustingari (spinal cord cutter), and after cutting it, the whaler must make sure that the whale is dead, he can do this by touching the whales eye; 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 with agrindaknívur, but only after it has been killed. The mønustingari is a new invention which has been legal to use to kill pilot whales with since 2011, and since 1 May 2015 it is the only weapon allowed to slaughter a whale. The length of time it takes for a whale to die varies from a few seconds to a few minutes, with the average time being 30 seconds. Other observers complained that it took up to fifteen minutes for certain whales to die, they noted several cuts were sometimes made before a successful death and that some whales were not even killed properly until a vet finishes the job.
The whale meat has traditionally been used as a source of protein in this barren land, but that’s no longer necessary. Further, some nutritionists recommend that because of its high levels of mercury, the meat be avoided altogether or limited to one meal per month. But this “cultural tradition,” an extraordinary brutal one, is outmoded. Take a look at the video below to see what it involves, and imagine the fear and pain suffered by these intelligent animals.
According to both the Independent and Sea Shepherd (the latter an anti-whaling organization) the slaughter this year, on July 23, destroyed about 250 pilot whales, with the killers guarded by the Danish Navy. Five members of the Sea Shepherd organization ran onto the beach to try to stop the slaughter; all were arrested and, according to a new Danish law, face up to two years in jail. Is that a fair sentence? Not at all; what’s unfair and unnecessary is the slaughter itself.
I’ve long admired the Danish people and their enlightened society, but I can’t countenance this slaughter, nor the apparent glee with which it’s conducted. I’m sorry, but some cultural traditions become outmoded, and I can’t help but feel that many of the people in the video below (taken by Sea Shepherd members) are actually feeling great glee when they herd, gaffe, and dispatch these wonderful beasts.