If you think the dolphin massacre at Taiji is a uniquely Japanese horror, welcome to the Faroe Islands of northern Europe.
These picturesque Danish islands, inhabited by about 50,000 people who are descended from the Vikings, are the backdrop to what’s known as “The Grind” – Faroese for “whale drive”. Every summer, the people herd hundreds of pilot whales to the seashore where the waters literally turn to blood as these peaceful mammals are systematically massacred.
Having driven the Japanese whaling fleet from the Southern Ocean – if only temporarily – the Sea Shepherd team of Whale Wars fame, led by Paul Watson, arrives in the Faroes this weekend for a new five-part series on Animal Planet:
The Sea Shepherds are not only at sea but also deploying a covert team to patrol the streets, interact with locals and carry out undercover missions. The Sea Shepherd arsenal has been upgraded with a new ultra-lightweight aircraft and mobile acoustical devices to deter the whales from the islands. A “grind” can happen at any moment, and the Sea Shepherds are vastly outnumbered and behind enemy lines in a new kind of face-to-face battle.
“Justice takes precedence over the law. No law that [the Faroese] can pass is going to justify what they’re doing to those whales,” says Watson. “We have to constantly remind the Faroese that the outside world is watching them.”
With over 20 killing beaches spread across 18 islands, stopping this hunt isn’t easy as the Sea Shepherds encounter a determined foe that is far from faceless.
“We kill big whales, so Paul Watson is not a problem,” says Marnar Andreasen, the Grind Foreman, who organizes the annual slaughter and is constantly tracking the direct-action conservation group’s every move.
As with so many other forms of animal abuse, whaling in the Faroe Islands is justified by the hunters as a “tradition” that dates back a thousand years. During the “grind” season, the boats drive as many as a thousand whales towards the island’s rocky shores, where more people wait to kill them with knives.
Whale Wars begins on Saturday evening at 9 pm ET and PT.
Here’s the trailer: