Local officials of the Faroe Islands faced anger over the slaughter of more than 1,400 white-sided dolphins in one day in what was reported to be the single biggest killing of the animals in the autonomous Danish territory.
Sea Shepherd, a charity group that lobbies against the culling of dolphins and whales, said a "superpod" of 1,428 Atlantic dolphins had been slaughtered at Skalabotnur in the North Atlantic archipelago.
Sea Shepherd Chief Operations Officer Rob Read said the mass killing is the biggest ever single hunt of dolphins in Faroese history. The next biggest was 1,200 pilot whales in 1940, he said.
According to BBC, the dolphins were herded into shallow waters where they were butchered with knives. The carcases were pulled ashore and distributed to the island's residents for consumption.
Video of the massive hunt shows the sea animals thrashing around in blood-red waters as hundreds of locals watch on from the beach.
Known as "the grind" (or "grindadrap" in Faroese), the killing of dolphins and whales is a tradition that has been practiced for centuries on the remote Faroe Islands.
The grindadrap is a practice whereby hunters surround the whales using a wide semi-circle of fishing vessls and then force the animals into a bay to be beached and killed.
On Sunday night a super-pod of 1428 Atlantic White-Sided Dolphins was driven for many hours and for around 45 km by speed boats and jet-skis into the shallow water at Skálabotnur beach in the Danish Faroe Islands, where every single one of them was killed. https://t.co/uo2fAPhCDq — Sea Shepherd (@seashepherd) September 14, 2021
"There are usually a few of the animals in the 'grind', but locals normally do not slaughter such a big number," local television reporter Hallur av Rana said in quotes by Phys.org.
According to av Rana, though around half of Faroe's population are against the tradition, the government has no plans to abolish the killing.
Local officials insist the slaughter is "a sustainable way of hunting," but animal rights activists have long opposed, deeming the slaughter as unnecessary and cruel.
In an interview with the BBC, Olavur Sjurdarberg, chairman of the Faroese Whalers Association, acknowledged that the slaughter was excessive. Sea Shepherd described it as a "barbaric practice".
"It was a big mistake... when the pod was found, they estimated it to be only 200 dolphins," Sjurdarberg, who did not participate in the killing, said.
The hunt was authorized by local officials and no laws were violated, Sjurdarberg added.