The first pod of whales of the year has been slaughtered in the Faroe Islands this past Saturday morning.

Over 20 hunting boats were seen herding a pod to the beach for some 5 hours in the early morning. There’s no official figures yet, but an estimated 150 animals are thought to have been killed.

Whaling in the Faroe Islands has been going on since the first settlements and is regulated by the government which allows people to kill approximately 800 long-finned pilot whales every year and some dolphins and porpoises.

The hunts, or grinds, are non commercial and are organized by the community. The hunting equipment is legally limited to knives, ropes and hooks, with spears and harpoons banned for causing ‘unnecessary harm’.

Drives usually start once a pod has been sighted close to land, at any time of the year. The men then approach the whales and start bringing them to close to shore where they are brutally pulled to the beach by their blowholes and fatally stabbed.

In 2013, a total of 1524 cetaceans were killed. Last year the number only reached 53 cetaceans, maybe thanks to Sea Shepherd who started their operation GrindStop 2014 and over 400 volunteers travelled to the islands to protest. This year the islands will be seeing hundreds of activists too, despite a failed attempt by the Faroese parliament to ban them from entering the country.

“Sea Shepherd will never stop opposing the Grind no matter what obstacles are placed in our way. This global movement to protect and defend cetaceans grows stronger every year. The murder of whales and dolphins has no place in the 21st century,” Sea Shepherd wrote on their website.

“It is amazing that in the year 2015, with the diminishment of biodiversity and with species after species going extinct, that there are still people so alienated from reality that they continue to engage in contributing to the death of the ocean. We humans are literally killing the ocean by diminishment of the life within. Many Faroese overfish, they slaughter puffins and other seabirds and they murder whales and dolphins. These are the kind of people that future generations in a world devoid of so many species, will look back upon with utter disgust.”

Sea Shepherd reported that this year the hunters have the Faroese Coast Guard and the Danish Navy defending them in the water.

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