Bloodshed During Iceland’s Summer Whale-Hunting Season
Horrifying footage shot by Sea Shepherd UK shows a whale being hauled onto a whaling station in Hvalfjörður, Iceland, after being slaughtered by Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf. Whales who are hunted for their flesh suffer in agony for hours after being shot with rifles and explosive harpoons, before finally dying. These are highly intelligent creatures who feel pain and fear, just as we do, and Iceland’s massacre of them is deplorable.
The slaughtered whale was a rare cross between a blue whale and a fin whale, both of which are endangered species. According to marine biologists, only five such hybrids have been recorded in the past 35 years. Just weeks earlier, the same company killed a pregnant whale of the same species. After being slaughtered, the mother whale was cut up and her dead foetus was dragged away. The whalers claim that it’s impossible to tell whether the animals they hunt are pregnant or not – but no matter which whales become its victims, it’s clear to any person with an ounce of compassion that the industry is utterly barbaric and that the Icelandic government must take immediate action to end the bloodshed.
The government issued Hvalur hf a permit for the slaughter of 191 fin whales during this summer’s 100-day whale-hunting season – but the killing of hybrids is apparently not covered by the permit. In the area in which Sea Shepherd UK has been operating in Iceland, the crew has documented the killing of the two above mentioned hybrids as well as 115 fin whales, 16 of whom were pregnant when they were harpooned.
The slaughter of whales using harpoons is downright barbaric. Metal hooks are driven into the animals’ blowholes before their spinal cords are cut, causing them to bleed slowly to death. Multiple members of the same pod may be slaughtered together, and some whales swim around in their family members’ blood for hours.
While most nations prohibit the killing of these gentle giants, in observance of the International Whaling Commission’s 1986 ban on commercial whaling, Iceland continues to allow its whalers to do so out of greed. Hvalur hf commonly ships the whales’ body parts to Japan, which also flouts the ban. There, their flesh is sold for human consumption and also used to create pet food. According to international regulations, it’s illegal to trade in the meat from a hybrid whale with a blue whale parent.
Iceland’s mass slaughter of whales is clearly out of control, as whalers have shown that they’re not always able to identify the type of whale they’re harpooning until after the fact, and there are no significant consequences to killing species that aren’t covered by their permit.
What You Can Do
If you feel outraged at this footage, please help whales by calling on Norway and the Faroe Islands to stop hunting and killing them. This could encourage other countries, such as Iceland, to follow suit.