(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.
Idaho Senate Approves Bill to Kill 90 Percent of State’s Wolves in “Brutal War”
Idaho’s legislature is swiftly moving forward with a bill that critics say would sanction a “brutal war” on wolves whereby up to 90 percent of the current wolf population would be killed in a bid to protect the interests of the state’s ranchers.
On Wednesday, the Idaho senate passed the measure by a 26-7 vote. The bill will now move forward to the House chamber, reports Associated Press.
Since teetering at the brink of endangerment years ago, wolf populations were removed from the state endangered species list in 2011. Since then, they have thrived despite Idaho allowing hundreds to be killed by hunters, trappers and state measures to control their numbers. Over the past two years, the wolf population has held steady at about 1,500.
According to federal guidelines, wolf recovery numbers require about 150 wolves in the state.
Republican supporters of the bill said during senate debates that the wolf population has grown entirely out of control, endangering the numbers of deer and elk available to hunters and harming the state economy.
“We’re supposed to have 15 packs, 150 wolves. We’re up to 1,553, was the last count, 1,556, something like that. They’re destroying ranchers. They’re destroying wildlife. This is a needed bill,” said Republican state Sen. Mark Harris.
However, critics have blasted the move as rash and potentially damaging to the state’s wildlife.
“The Idaho Senate’s sudden move to pass this bill in the eleventh hour incentivizes the cruel deaths of more than 1,000 wolves across the state,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.
“This brutal war on wolves must be stopped, and we urge the House to deny this bill,” Zaccardi added.
Maggie Howell, the head of the Wolf Conservation Center, also described the move as the latest in a hostile and extreme campaign against wolves that fails to take into account the creatures’ value to the local ecology.
“Beyond the wanton cruelty and devastation the passage of this bill would bring to wolves, this legislation poses a threat to wolves nationwide,” she told the New York Times. “With the Trump administration’s decision to transfer wolf management authority from the federal government to the states, Idaho’s policies can influence expectations about wildlife management beyond its borders.”
As Marine Life Flees the Equator, Global Mass Extinction is Imminent: Scientists
The waters surrounding the equator are one of the most biodiverse areas in the globe, with the tropical area rich in marine life including rare sea turtles, whale sharks, manta rays, and other creatures.
However, rampant rises in temperate have led to a mass exodus of marine species from the sensitive region – with grave implications for life on earth.
While ecologists have long seen the thriving biodiversity of equatorial species holding constant in the past few centuries, a new study by Australian researchers published in The Conversation has found that warming global temperatures are now hitting the equator hard, potentially leading to an unprecedented mass extinction event.
The researchers from the Universities of Auckland, Queensland, and the Sunshine Coast found that as waters surrounding the equator continue to heat up, the ecosystem is being disrupted and forcing species to flee toward the cooler water of the South and North Pole.
The massive changes in marine ecosystems that this entails will have a grave impact not only on ocean life – essentially becoming invasive species in their new homes – but also on the human livelihoods that depend on it.
“When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90 percent of all marine species died,” the researchers wrote.
To see where marine life is headed, the researchers tracked the distribution of about 49,000 different species to see what their trajectory was. The global distribution of ocean life typically resembles a bell curve, with far fewer species near the poles and more near the equator.
However, the vast alteration of the curve is already in motion as creatures flee to the poles, according to a study they published in the journal PNAS.
These changes augur major disruptions to global ecosystem as marine life scrambles in a chaotic fight for food, space, and resources – with a mass die-off and extinction of creatures likely resulting.
The research underscores the dire need for human societies to control rampant climate change before the biodiversity and ecological health of the planet is pushed past the point of no return.
Rare Creature Photographed Alive In The Wild For The First Time Ever
Advances in the methods used by researchers to watch wildlife have allowed for the photographing of a rare creature whose image had never been captured in the wild before.
Researchers in the West African nation of Togo were able to spot the rare Walter’s duiker, a rare species of petite African antelope, for the first time in the wild thanks to camera traps equipped with motion sensors.
In addition to the Walter’s duiker, the camera traps were also able to discover rare species of aardvarks and a mongoose, reports Gizmodo.
At a time when the extinction of entire species is becoming more common worldwide, such devices should help conservationists not only preserve creatures sought by bushmeat hunters but also spot rare animals whose presence is elusive for human observers. In the past, biologists were forced to rely on the same hunters for information.
“Camera traps are a game changer when it comes to biodiversity survey fieldwork,” said University of Oxford wildlife biologist Neil D’Cruze.
“I’ve spent weeks roughing it in tropical forests seemingly devoid of any large mammal species,” D’Cruze continued. “Yet when you fire up the laptop and stick in the memory card from camera traps that have been sitting there patiently during the entire trip—and see species that were there with you the entire time —it’s like being given a glimpse into a parallel world.”
The Walter’s duiker was discovered in 2010 when specimens of bushmeat were compared to other duiker specimens. The new images of the creature are the first to have been seen.
Rare species like Walter’s duiker are often not listed as “endangered” by groups like the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to a lack of data.
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