What happens during the grindadráp?
After a pod is located and the hunt authorised, the Faroese drive the pod towards a killing beach using sports/recreational boats, fishing boats, jet-skis and any other available watercraft available, including small boats launched from the Faroese Coastguard vessel ‘Brimil’.
For many miles and over several hours, boat participants create a ‘wall of sound’ to force the increasingly stressed and panicky pod towards the nearest designated killing bay and into its shallow waters where waiting Faroese rush into the water to kill the animals or drag them further ashore with ropes and a blásturongul (a type of gaff-hook rammed into the whale’s blowhole). The men then attempt to sever the dolphin’s spinal cord with a mønustingari (a spinal lance resembling a short spear) before using a grindaknívur (traditional grind hunt knife) to cut through the dolphin’s neck.
Pulling the dolphins further in-shore using the hook inserted into their blowhole will be incredibly painful when considering the weight of the animal. Worse yet, severing the spinal cord only paralyses the animals, it does not cause them to lose consciousness or die... instead they die slowly as a result of the draining blood. Multiple stabbings are regularly documented yet animals are rarely examined to ensure that they are dead, they are simply left paralysed and waiting to die.
After removing the dead dolphins from the water, they are typically laid out in rows, the stomach cut open to cool the meat as rapidly as possible, a number inscribed with a knife and measurements taken. Samples for research (for example to age an animal) are also taken at this point.
Unlike traditional hunting which sees as much of the carcass as possible being used, much of the dolphin is wasted. Meat and blubber is taken from the main body of the animal whilst the fins, head, bones, intestines and tail stock are discarded. All remains should be removed from the quay within 24 hours of killing, with the remains dumped at sea and the area fully cleaned.
The killing of the dolphins is rarely as quick as the Faroese government and local media outlets make out. Grindadráp hunts can turn into drawn-out disorganised massacres, with dolphins killed over an extended period in front of their relatives while beached and struggling on sand, rocks or in shallow water. Faroese boats block any chance of escape until not a single dolphin is left alive.
Every member of the pod is killed including pregnant mothers, juveniles and weaning calves. None are ever spared.
The grindadráp would be illegal under European Union legislation because in the EU (including the kingdom of Denmark, of which the Faroe Islands is a part) it is illegal to kill, harass, stress or chase a cetacean . But in a political twist, despite Denmark being in the EU, the Faroe Islands is not, although the islands are happy to benefit substantially from Danish subsidies and Danish free trade agreements with the EU.