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Sea Shepherd volunteers arrested after trying to stop the killing of 33 dolphins

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The UK Telegraph reported on Sunday, Aug. 31 that authorities had arrested 14 Sea Shepherd animal rights activists last Saturday. The activists were attempting to stop a business as usual dolphin drive in the Faroe Islands as part of “an ongoing campaign in which hundreds of activists have pledged to patrol the waters around the Faroe Islands to block the killing of pilot whales.”

The activists had aimed to save a pod of 33 pilot whales (oceanic dolphins) from their imminent
deaths. In typical fashion, hunters had rounded up the dolphins and had driven them to the shore where hunting parties awaited. This method of hunting “involves the mammals being forced into a bay by flotillas of small boats before being hacked to death with hooks and knives,” reported the UK Telegraph.

The hunts, also called grindadráp (or grinds) are community-based events which are protected by the local police and the Danish Navy. Even Grindaformenn, or the men in charge of organizing the hunt are allowed to remove interlopers. On Saturday, activists’ attempts at stopping the hunt had failed. Activists were detained and 33 pilot whales continued to be rounded up and then brought to the shore and killed. On top of these derailments, three of Sea Shepherd’s boats were seized.

Whaling has been a common practice in the Faroe Islands and drives such as the one reported in the news have been occurring since 1584. The Faroe Islands are part of an autonomous territory inside of Denmark which considers whaling a cultural right. “The grindadráp (whale hunt) is not merely something from the Faroese past. It is a reminder of their relationship to the sea, and the meat is still a favourite delicacy,” wrote Tim Ecott of Spectator Magazine, earlier this year. According to Sea Shepherd's website, “There are 23 whaling bays assigned to six districts in which the meat and blubber are divided among the population.” Meat and blubber are still distributed for human consumption, by the way, despite warnings from Chief medical officers that the meat may be too toxic to consume.

Animal rights activists consider the drives cruel and unnecessary. They have also described the grinds as “brutal and archaic mass slaughter.”

Many celebrities have been interested in helping to put an end to these grinds. Former Baywatch star, Pamela Anderson, ballet dancer Sylvie Guillem and actor Charlie Sheen are some of the names mentioned at the UK Telegraph who are speaking up. Charlie Sheen has even sponsored one of the boats that the Sea Shepherd team uses. His sponsored boat was one of the ones seized on Saturday.

According to the Sea Shepherd website, the 14 members who were detained were released from custody on Sunday. Six of the volunteers who were stationed on-land have been ordered to go to court Monday, Sept. 1. The eight members who had manned the three boats that were seized must return to court on Sept. 25. Authorities will keep the seized boats until after the final court date.

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