On Saturday, fourteen members of the animal rights activist group Sea Shepherd were arrested on the Faroe island of Sandoy in the North Atlantic, after attempting to stop the slaughter of 33 pilot whales.
Locally, the culling of the whales is known as a “grind,” and Operation Grindstop was initiated to save more than thousand pilot whales, which are among the largest members of the dolphin family. In a practice which Sea Shepherd refers to as being a “brutal and archaic mass slaughter,” Faroe Islands fishermen herd the cetaceans into a bay using flotillas, and then hack them to death with hooks and knives. Many locals defend the hunt as being their cultural right.
Lamya Essemlali, president of Sea Shepherd France, commented, "the 14 have been under arrest since Saturday, and three of our boats have also been seized." The Faroe Islands are under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Denmark, and the Danish Armed Forces' Arctic Command stepped in to commandeer the boats.
Here is a graphic clip of a Faroe Islands grind in 2013:
The B.S. Sheen was one of the boats seized on Saturday, which is sponsored by Charlie Sheen. The actor said in a statement, "The Faroese whalers brutally slaughtered an entire pod of 33 pilot whales today - several generations taken from the sea - and Denmark is complicit in the killing."
Former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson has also been involved in Operation GrindStop, and commented, “This is not for survival. There are very few things that happen like this that are so brutal. We have to put this behind us and move on, and let the whales swim freely. And I think it’s much more important for us in the future to save our oceans and the biodiversity of our oceans that the whales are very important to.”
According to Sea Shepherd, 267 pilot whales were killed in a single grind in 2013 near the Faroese town of Fuglafjorour.