Reverse Whale Watching 3

Your eyes are straining over the endless ocean as you are watching, scanning waves after waves, looking at the rips and tides. You are hoping for rain or fog. You are hoping it will get dark early, but this time of the year it is almost never dark. You are hoping for the sky to fall.

Dorsal fin near a killing beach in the Faroe Islands

You want to see nothing. You want to see the empty ocean and not the familiar shapes of dorsal fins. You do not want to see playful pods, lively families of these beautiful beings, the pilot whales. Every morning your heart sinks when you see a wave parting and a streamlined body surfacing. You wish they would go away, hide and be safe. You hold your breath as you follow them with your eyes.

Nothing changes you more than pushing your limitations as far as you can and seem to hit a wall. You argue, you reason, you shout. You jump up and down. You wish to dispel the darkness in the hearts and minds. You think you know better, you feel you need to say, do and act.

It is a distant part of the planet, far from Taiji, but seems to be almost the same. Every years local men gather, some as young as 14 years old, to herd and kill hundreds or thousands of pilot whales at 23 killing beaches. This is called the Grindadrap, which had been going on since the 1500’s. We came here to stop it. There is resistance, but there is support for us here too. We get stares, but smiles too and were are here to stay.

They argue with us and throw rocks of tradition at us. 500 years of routine bloodshed, the killing of thousands of whales every year, which used to allow the people of Faeroe Islands to eat and to survive, but when you go to a supermarket you see colourful fresh produce from all over the world. They say you are a foreigner who disrespects their land, but as long as you are on planet Earth you know it is a land which does not belong to anyone. They warned us we might get stabbed if we enter the water while they are killing whales, but if one has nothing to die for how can one say one has something to live for?

There is a church at every killing beach as the “tradition” says the whales are the “gifts of god”, but priests and women used to be banned from watching the grind. Interestingly enough the first Irish priests were killed by the vikings. What sort of god would create other sentient beings for humans (also sentient beings) to be butchered, dried and eaten? Perhaps a god invented by humans.

On these islands with almost no trees but plenty of wifi one must wonder where do the riches come from? Can the salmon “concentration camps” supply all this wealth or perhaps the Danish crown is investing European Union funds there, while the Faeroes do not want to join the EU? Is it an overkill to waste money on protecting the grind, a brutal sport and barbaric practice which has to be hidden from tourists? There is a Danish warship at Vestmanna and the troops were practising how to intercepts small boats. We are only armed with cameras and small boats.

When I was leaving the Torshavn wearing Sea Shepherd gear a taxi driver yelled at me, “Go home!”. I did not argue with him, I was already home. This planet is my home, but it is also home to ignorance. To plunge a knife into a pilot whale, to cut an unborn calf from a mother, to laugh while covered in blood is to be truly ignorant. To be ignorant is to be homeless as one cannot feel at home as long as one is covered in blood of another sentient being. The choice is with the Faeroes people, they can join humanity…

To learn more about the Grindstop 2014 campaign of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society please visit: