Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Green Whale
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Scottish Dolphin Centre
  • Stop whaling
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Risso's dolphin entangled in fishing line and plastic bags - Andrew Sutton

The ocean is awash with plastic – can we ever clean it up?

You've seen pictures of plastic litter accumulating on beaches or marine wildlife swimming through floating...
Fin whale

Is this the beginning of the end for whaling off Iceland?

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic after Iceland's Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir wrote that there is little...
Mykines Lighthouse, Faroe Islands

Understanding whale and dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands – why change is not easy

Most people in my home country of the Faroe Islands would like to see an...

Dolphin scientists look like you and me – citizen science in action

Our amazing volunteers have looked out for dolphins from the shores of Scotland more than...
Atlantic white-sided dolphins

The Faroes dolphin slaughter that sparked an outcry now brings hope

Since the slaughter of at least 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður in my home...
Fin whale

From managing commercial slaughter to saving the whale – the International Whaling Commission at 75

Governments come together under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to make decisions...

Stranded pilot whales 'put out of their misery' or killed for their meat by locals in Iceland?

Marine biologist, Megan Whittaker, who lives and works in Iceland, sent us the following guest blog based upon her personal thoughts and observations at the scene of the recent pilot whale stranding off Iceland.  Readers should be warned of distressing content and graphic images. Here is Megan’s blog.

On the evening of Saturday, 7th September 2013, during a strong storm, about 70 long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) began stranding in the small harbor of Rif and along the northern coast of the Snaefellnes peninsula in the west of Iceland.  Sadly, about 20 of these whales either died naturally or were killed by the local community.  Some of the whales’ throats were obviously slit; however there is some debate whether this was to stop their suffering or so that the local people could start butchering the animals for their meat – or maybe both.  It is Icelandic law that beached whales need to be reported to the police and the relevant authorities be alerted. This did not happen and thus an investigation has begun. Most likely, the locals simply did not know that they had to do this. Still, they wasted no time in cutting their share of the meat.

 

    

The next day, Sunday, a few friends and I decided to drive up from Reykjavik to check out the situation. For me, it was a very sad sight for many reasons.  Sad that the whales had a very stressful and traumatic end to their life, but mostly because I felt that a lot of the locals seemed to have no respect for the animals that lost their life.  If the animals had died naturally and the locals wanted to eat the meat – assuming that they didn’t mind feeding their children meat that could have high levels of PCBs and methyl mercury – but it was this total disrespect that really shocked me.

    

 

Children were jumping on the whales’ heads and tails, prodding them with sticks as the parents stood by laughing. One van even ran over a whale, maybe by accident but it looked to be on purpose, with a group of onlookers in hysterics.  A very young calf was butchered with blood running down its smiley face.

There was a time when a beached whale was considered a gift from God when food was scarce.  Nowadays, most attitudes about consuming whale meat have changed and the practice has become a taboo, yet Iceland still practices traditional ways no matter how many protest it.