The Actor Speaks Out Against the Brutal Pilot Whale Slaughter Known as “The Grind,” in the Danish Faroe Islands, Says “There’s No Place for Whaling in the 21st Century”
Hollywood actor Clive Standen, who plays the fearsome Viking warrior “Rollo” on History Channel’s original drama, “Vikings,” says “Real Men Don’t Whale.”
Filmed on the set of the popular TV show, Standen stars in a new video from marine wildlife conservation organization Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, spotlighting the horrific ritual hunts that take place each summer in the Danish Faroe Islands in which up to 1,000 long-finned endangered Pilot Whales are brutally slaughtered by hand by men with knives, turning the waters amidst those islands a bloody red. This month alone, 263 Pilot Whales were victims of these barbaric, ritual hunts. The Faroese also killed 430 Atlantic White-sided Dolphins. In previous years’ hunts, they’ve even killed Risso’s Dolphins and Orcas, which are illegal, claiming they somehow mistook them for Pilot Whales.
The Pilot Whale drive hunt known as the “Grind” is more formally known as the “Grindadrap,” and has been around since 1584, but it is just as cruel today as it was when it originated. A drive is initiated when fishermen or ferries offshore sight dolphins (Pilot Whales belong to the dolphin family). The dolphins are chased and driven into a bay with motor boats and even jet skis and each one is pulled up into the shallows with a hook in their blowhole. One-by-one, the men plunge knives into the whales’ bodies until each whale’s spinal cord is severed, rarely on the first attempt, until the animal drowns in its own blood. The chase and beaching of the animals is extremely stressful and inhumane for them, and once its spinal cord has been cut, it can take several minutes for the animal to die. No discrimination is made as to mothers and babies, pregnant females, family units — all are slaughtered.
There are 23 whaling bays assigned to six districts in the Faroes in which the meat and blubber are divided among local residents. However, recently Faroese officials have warned individuals such as women of child-bearing age and children should not eat the meat, as it is laden with mercury, PCBs, dioxins and DDT derivatives and is therefore not safe for human consumption. As a result, much of the meat and the carcasses are discarded back into the ocean after the ritual slaughter, compounding the tragedy. Sea Shepherd discovered underwater graveyards of these once-majestic creatures in the region in 2010 and 2011.
Sea Shepherd has led campaigns to oppose the “Grind” in the Faroe Islands since 1985. During the 2011 Operation Ferocious Isles campaign, not a single whale was killed while Sea Shepherd patrolled the waters of the islands during the July-August high season. So far this has been shown to be the only way the lives of these magnificent animals have been saved. The group’s work was chronicled in a five-episode TV series on Animal Planet called “Whale Wars: Viking Shores” (2012).
“The ‘Grind’ may have begun centuries ago, but humanity should have evolved over the last 400+ years,” said Sea Shepherd USA Director, Susan Hartland. “Barbaric ritual hunts of whales have no place in a so-called civilized society. Today, these animals are under countless human-induced stressors — pollution, loss of habitat, by-catch, whaling and more. We can’t keep taking them in such numbers and not expect negative consequences. We can’t keep mindlessly killing like primeval barbarians without thinking about what sort of legacy we are leaving for future generations,” she added.
In the video, Standen underscores that point by explaining: “I may play a merciless Viking on TV but there’s no place for such barbaric behavior in the 21st Century. Join me in making whaling ancient history once and for all.”
To find out what you can do to help, visit Brutal Death and Suffering; Business as Usual in The Faroe Islands