Friday, November 25, 2011

Torshavn Snack Time

Another "grindadráp" in the Faroe Islands this week...
Dozens of boats herded a pod of pilot whales into a bay near Torshavn last Tues.22 Nov., as locals took part in another traditional whale massacre. The blood-letting continued in the twilight while the Faroese Coast Guard vessel Brimil stood by. Why such a show of force was needed is anyone's guess, as Sea Shepherd's presence departed in early September.
According to a Faroese government statement, there've been five whale drives between January and September this year, with a total catch of 406 pilot whales. That's on a par with 2010, when 1107 pilot whales are slaughtered in 14 grinds.
The American Cetacean Society says pilot whales are not considered endangered, but there has been a noticeable decrease in their numbers around the Faroes.
Update: As more info comes in about this grind (22 Nov.), it seems only deteriorating weather saved an enormous super-pod from massacre.
Multiple pods had formed into a group estimated to be 1,000 strong, spotted off the island of Streymoy. As a helicopter hovered above, boats from Torshavn and neighbouring villages arrived, racing against the approaching darkness and approaching storm. The decision was made to drive the whales to Sandágerði (the authorised killing beach of Torshavn). Changing currents made the whales hard to herd: finally the huge pod was split into four groups, the first group of 81 being driven towards the shore and the waiting knives...
The remaining 900 whales were only spared by winds that refused to relent and caused the rest of the slaughter to be cancelled. The storm ultimately reached hurricane force, damaging FI houses and boats before moving on to hit Denmark and Sweden.
This was the third grind in the past week...


BigMac said...

...but there has been a noticeable decrease in their numbers around the Faroes.

Do you mind to inform about the background and documentation for your claims?

Writer Of The Purple Sage... said...

Hi, Big Mac:

Yes, just as I wrote - "the American Cetacean Society" made the claim.
I was as surprised about this as no doubt YOU are, given that pilot whales are transient ie: they don't congregate around the FI (or ANYWHERE, for that matter) but just transit through.


BigMac said...

Yes of course I am surprised. To my knowledge there is no foreign organization involved in any whale counting’s around the Faroes? And the claim is also inconsistent in the two contradictory statements that pilot whales are NOT considered endangered, and they are noticeable DECREASED in numbers around the Faroes?

I think it´s pretty safe to say that the population around the Faroes (close approx. to shore - only numbers relevant to faroese whaling) is best reflected in the faroese catch records, which are accurate, consistent and goes hundreds of years back.

”I was as surprised about this as no doubt YOU are,..”

Isn’t it better to check at the source then and don´t bring on speculative contradictory guesswork?

Writer Of The Purple Sage... said...

Dear Big Mac:

In an ideal world - when everyone would have so much spare time that they can check 'at source' every single piece of information (and those 'at source' would have endless time to reply to this flood of enquiries) - I'd agree with you.
However, sooner or later, one has to decide which sources one will accept info from and assume it's ok. If the source is local, it is of course a lot easier eg: you could simply walk down to the beach and ask how many pilot whales were needlessly butchered on any given grind, how much was sold to restaurants, how much was dumped...
But if you had to check every single detail of everything you were reading...well, that would mean I'd never hear from you at all, because you'd be spending all your time checking 'at source' my material. And wouldn't that be a shame?
However, to satisfy your curiosity, I've emailed this particular source (the ACS): I'll let you know if anything is received. They may of course be just too busy to respond...

Writer Of The Purple Sage... said...

Dear Big Mac:
For your reading pleasure, here's a reply I received from the American Cetacean Society.
With regard to your inquiry concerning information presented on the ACS Fact Sheet on long-finned and short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala
melaena and G. macrorhynchus, respectively, the information presented in the fact sheets are peer-reviewed and based on primary data cited in each of the sheets.

With regard to pilot whales specifically, as you will note on the fact sheet found on our website
(, the primary scientific literature serving as a basis for the information presented is listed below this message, for your information and investigation.

I hope this information is helpful in your research.

Thank you very much for referring to the American Cetacean Society as a source of cetacean education.

Cheryl M. McCormick, Ph.D.
Executive Director
American Cetacean Society
P.O. Box 1391
San Pedro, CA 90733-1391
(310) 548-6279 (office)

Bernard, H.J. and Reilly, S.B.
(1999). Pilot whales. In: Handbook of Marine Mammals (S.H. Ridgeway and R. Harrison, eds.), volume 6. Academic Press, London. Pp.245-279.

Olson, P.A. and Reilly, S.B.
(2002). Pilot whales. In: Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals (W.F. Perrin, B. Wursig, and J.G.M. Thewissen, eds.).
Academic Press, New York. Pp.898-903.

Carlos Mendez said...

Big Mac:
You question "...the two contradictory statements that pilot whales are NOT considered endangered, and they are noticeably DECREASED in numbers around the Faroes..."
It's simple - noticeable decreases can happen, without the numbers dipping to a level of endangerment.
Hell, this IS a no-brainer!