(TMU) — In Denmark’s Faroe Islands, the centuries-old tradition of butchering whales was in full-swing last week as the waters off of Torshavn Bay were turned into a sea of deep red. Anywhere from 130-150 pilot whales and 10-20 white-sided dolphins were brutally killed in the annual mass hunt.
The summer slaughter brings the number of slaughtered sea mammals—or cetaceans—to about 500 as of this year—par for the course in an old tradition dubbed Grindadráp by the local Danish community.
Around 800 whales are killed annually by the people of the Faroe Islands to satisfy the historical natural diet of local denizens who subsist on the meat and blubber of the sea mammals. Each whale provides several hundred kilos of meat to locals, whose hunting exercises are communal activities where catches are shared among locals without any sort of cash exchange, according to Condé Nast Traveller magazine.
The Kingdom of Denmark’s foreign affairs and trade ministry spokesman Páll Nolsøe told Metro UK:
“Whaling is a natural part of Faroese life. It has long since been internationally recognized that pilot whale catches in the Faroe Islands are fully sustainable.”
Indeed, the tradition is an example of locals subsisting on local wildlife rather than the capital-intensive industrial agriculture and factory farm-sourced foodstuffs that most Europeans rely on.
The practice entails boats enclosing whales who venture close to the bay, after which they are herded toward land where they are beached and killed. Hooks are inserted into the whales’ blowholes to haul them onshore, after which spinal lances are used to pierce the neck and sever the spinal cord, ending all blood flow to the brain. Within seconds, the whale is dead. An entire pod of whales can be killed in less than ten minutes, especially since the entire community is on-hand to assist in the slaughter.
Tradition aside, campaigners have reacted to graphic imagery of the hunt by calling for a ban on hunting dolphins and small whales in countries where the tradition is widespread, with groups like The Blue Planet Society starting petitions aiming to outlaw the practice in Japan and the Faroe Islands.
Locals continue to defend the right of their community to continue the tradition, as is clear on the tourist website Visit Faroe Islands, which reads:
“The Faroese have eaten pilot whale meat and blubber since they first settled the islands over a century ago.
Today, as in times past, the whale drive is a community activity open to all, while also well organised on a community level and regulated by national laws.
Records of all pilot whale hunts have been kept since 1584 and the practice is deemed sustainable, as there an estimated 778,000 whale in the eastern North Atlantic region.
Approximately 100,000 swim close to the Faroe Islands, and the Faroese hunt an average 800 pilot whales annually.
The meat and blubber from the hunt is distributed equally among those who have participated.”
The whale catches are also strictly recorded and regulated by authorities, who insist that the events aren’t cruel and that international law allows for the practice to take place. Since 1584, an estimated 2,000 whale catches have taken part in the Danish archipelago.
The official Whaling website explains:
“Scientists estimate that the pilot whale population in the eastern North Atlantic is about 778,000 whales, with approximately 100,000 around the Faroe Islands. The Faroese hunt on average 800 pilot whales annually.”
Yet public health authorities have also warned that the high levels of mercury and persistent organic pollutants render the meat a health hazard and risk to the intellectual and neurological development of those who consume it. The toxic content of the meat, released by industry into the environment and subsequently ending up in the whales, may provide the most compelling argument against the continuation of the centuries-old whaling practice in Denmark.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Blue Whales Return to Spain’s Coast After Disappearing for 40 Years
Blue whales have been returning to the Atlantic coast of Spain after an absence of over 40 years in the region, when whaling industries drove the species to the brink of extinction.
Blue whales, which are the world’s largest mammals, had long disappeared from the region until the recent sightings.
The first was spotted off the coast of Galicia near Ons Island by marine biologist Bruno Díaz, who heads the Bottlenose Dolphin Research.
Another one of the majestic creatures was spotted the following year in 2018 and yet another in 2019. In 2020, two whales again made their return to the area.
It remains unclear as of yet as to why the creatures have returned to the area, but controls on local whaling industries are believed to play a role.
“I believe the moratorium on whaling has been a key factor,” Díaz remarked, according to the Guardian. “In the 1970s, just before the ban was introduced, an entire generation of blue whales disappeared. Now, more than 40 years later, we’re seeing the return of the descendants of the few that survived.”
Whaling had been a traditional industry in Galicia for hundreds of years before Spain finally acted to ban whaling in 1986, long after the blue whale’s presence in the region had faded away.
Some fear that the return of the massive sea mammals is a sign of global warming.
“I’m pessimistic because there’s a high possibility that climate change is having a major impact on the blue whale’s habitat,” said marine biologist Alfredo López in comments to La Voz de Galicia.
“Firstly, because they never venture south of the equator, and if global warming pushes this line north, their habitat will be reduced,” he continued “And secondly, if it means the food they normally eat is disappearing, then what we’re seeing is dramatic and not something to celebrate.”
Díaz said that while the data certainly supports this theory, it is too early to determine climate as the precise cause.
“It is true that the data we have points to this trend [climate change] but it is not enough yet,” he told Público news.
Another possibility is that the ancestral memory of the old creatures or even a longing for their home may offer an explanation, according to Díaz.
“In recent years it’s been discovered that the blue whale’s migration is driven by memory, not by environmental conditions,” he said. “This year there hasn’t been a notable increase in plankton, but here they are. Experiences are retained in the collective memory and drive the species to return.”
In recent years, researchers have found that migratory patterns are also driven by the cultural knowledge existing in many groups of species.
Researchers believe this type of folk memory, or cultural knowledge, exists in many species and is key to their survival.
A typical blue whale is 20-24 metres long and weighs 120 tonnes – equivalent to 16 elephants – but specimens of up to 30 metres and 170 tonnes have been found.