The First Pilot Whale Slaughter of 2017 in the Faroe Islands

Pilot whales in the Faroes
Pilot whales in the Faroe Islands

On May 21, the first grind of 2017 took place in the Faroe Islands. Around 7pm local time a pod of pilot whales was discovered South of Mykineshólmur, also called Mykineshólm, the 45-hectare, most-western outpost of the archipelago that is topped by a lighthouse. It is separated from the island Mykines by the narrow Hólmgjógv that can be crossed by the pedestrian Atlantic Bridge.



Mykineshólmur lighthouse
Mykines village

The location in which the pod was found meant that to kill them, they had to be driven east, towards the next island Vágoy (or Vágar), as Mykines does not have an authorized kill beach. While Mykines can only be reached by boat, Vágar is the third largest Faroese island, home to the archipelago’s airport and connected to the other main islands by an undersea tunnel, guaranteeing sufficient bloodthirsty participants in the eventual slaughter.

Originally there was confusion about the size of the pod. Gutti Guttesen, grindforeman in Bøur told that the pod of pilot whales was so small, that it was difficult to guess exactly how big the pod was. The police reported that according to their information the pod consisted of about 100 whales (hvalir in Faroese).

Pilot whales in the Faroe Islands

At 8 o’ clock, three boats from Mykines had reached the pod and tried to drive the animals in the direction of Sørvágsfjørður, a 3.5 kilometer long bay at the southwestern side of Vágar, with the main population center in the area, Sørvágur, at its far end. Picturesque Tindhólmur, a former dolphin killing spot, lies at the south side of the bay entrance, but most importantly the small village of Bøur, with its authorized whaling beach, lies on the north coast of the fjord, 4 kilometer West of Sørvágur, and was the ultimate goal of the drive.

Sørvágsfjør∂ur with Sørvágur at its end
Former whaling site Tindholm

The ‘hunt’ in the end took almost four hours. At 20:30 there were five boats with the pilot whales. At 21:30, 15 Faroese boats had found their way to the pod, together with Faroese fisheries inspection vessel Brimil; and even more boats were reportedly on their way.

Faroese fishery patrol and S&R vessel Brimil
Fisheries inspection vessel Brimil

At 22:30 it was reported that around 50 animals had been beached (landgongd in Faroese) at Bøur, also referred to as simply Bø, and were being slaughtered.

Bour DSC_4612
The village of Bøur
Bour DSC_4619
The kill beach at Bøur
Bour DSC_4623
View towards Tindhólmur and the entrance of Sørvágsfjør∂ur from the kill beach at Bøur

The following morning the official kill numbers were published: 84 pilot whales lost their lives Sunday evening and their meat and blubber was divided among the participants on the boats and on the beach.

Long-finned pilot whales in the Faroes
Pilot whales in the Faroe Islands

On May 8th 2017, Sea Shepherd Nederland officially submitted a request to the European Commission (EC) to start infringement proceedings against Denmark for facilitating the slaughter of pilot whales and other cetaceans in the Faroe Islands, with the formal support of 27 Members of the European Parliament.

You can sign and share the petition requesting the EC to take action here:


In Dutch:





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