Whaling in the Faroe Islands

inFAROECulture Comments

The old tradition of hunting pods of pilotwhales and driving them unto the shores and slaugthering them for food. The tradition is widly known around the world because of its ‘savage apperance’. Especially the red colour of the blue sea, which happens during the slaugther. The whaling is what faroese call ‘grindadráp’. ‘Grind’ is the whale and ‘dráp’ is the hunting. So the simple meaning is ‘the hunting of pilotwhales’.

Misleadingly this is described by some anti-whaling communities to be an arranged event that takes place during summer, where boats go out in numbers to track down and drive the whales unto shore. Reality is another matter. The fact is that the hunting can take place during every season of the year, but the good weather and daylight conditions of summertime makes it more practical.

The hunting can take place at any time. Pods of pilotwhales are spotted randomly by fishingvessels, ferries or near the shore. The local authorities can then give orders to drive them unto shore if the condition are good.

The faroese are proud of this tradition, which dates back several centuries and was once the lifeline of all faroese households. Statistics dating back to 1584 show that every pod of pilotwhales that have been driven ashore have been distributed equally in the local community. The grind is therefore not hunted for profit. This whaling has always been and still is supervised by the local authorities. If you are travelling to the Faroe Islands, you could be able to witness a ‘grindadráp’, but don’t bet your money on it, since it can happen at any time and the slaughter takes only a few minutes.
Grind og Spik - A delicious dish fresh from the sea. Here with pilot whale meat, blubber, potatoes and fish

Grind og Spik – A delicious dish fresh from the sea. Here with pilot whale meat, blubber, potatoes and fish

You can learn more about the pilot whale (grind), whaling and other practical facts on these websites. Be enlightened about the issue before you make your judgement based on preconceived opinions.

Wikipedia whaling in the Faroe Islands
Faroese government website of whaling


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