July 20, 2023.
Passengers aboard the Ambassador Cruise Line's cruise ship, Ambition, in the Faroe Islands were left horrified when they witnessed the traditional pilot whale hunt, known as the grind, taking place right before their eyes. The incident occurred on July 9 in the port of Torshavn, coinciding with the ship's arrival. A total of 78 pilot whales, including nine young calves, were brutally slaughtered in the port area, causing distress among the onlooking passengers.
The UK whale and dolphin charity ORCA, which had conservationists on board the ship, strongly criticised the Faroe Islands for flaunting the hunt in front of tourists who had come to observe whales and dolphins in their natural habitat. ORCA condemned the contradiction between promoting the pristine environment and wildlife of the Faroe Islands while participating in the brutal killing of marine mammals.
Ambassador Cruise Line issued an apology for the distress caused to their passengers by witnessing the whaling event. The company expressed its objections to the outdated practice of whaling and emphasised their efforts to engage in constructive dialogue with the Faroese government and Visit Faroes regarding the issue. The cruise line, valuing sustainability, urged its guests not to support the hunters by purchasing whale and dolphin meat.
The Faroe Islands' practice, known as Grindadráp or grind, involves herding whales and dolphins into shallow bays where they are beached, killed, and butchered. This practice is considered part of the cultural heritage by many islanders.
However, the proximity of the slaughter to the docked cruise ship sparked controversy and raised questions about the Faroese authorities' decision to allow it. ORCA CEO Sally Hamilton criticised the authorities for potentially impacting the region's tourism industry, as the Faroe Islands heavily rely on fishing and marine-related industries for their main economic driver.
The Ambassador's Ambition cruise ship, owned by Ambassador Cruise Line, found itself entangled in the situation, expressing their objections to the whaling practice and apologising to their passengers for witnessing the killing of the pilot whales. Conservationists from ORCA, who were on board the ship, expressed their distress over the event and continued advocating for change in the region.
As of now, the Faroese government has not responded to a request for comment. The hunt has faced increased scrutiny following a previous incident where over 1,400 white-sided dolphins were killed in a single day.
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- Cruise ship passengers horrified as Faroe Islands pilot whales slaughtered in front of them orca.org.uk