Horror ‘sea of blood’ left behind by annual whale cull on remote Arctic island

Horrific photos reveal the aftermath of a brutal killing of a pod of whales on a remote Arctic island.

The animals are rounded up and slaughtered by villagers several times a year in a tradition that has caused outrage across the world.

One of these culls happens every summer where thousands of pilot and beaked whales are massacred in bays across the Danish-owned Faroe Islands as inhabitants prepare for the harsh winter months ahead.

Images show fishermen driving herds into shallow waters that have already been stained red by the blood of previously slaughtered animals.

The water is littered with dozens of corpses many of which can be seen with massive gashes on their bodies where people have hacked at them.

One whale lays almost decapitated as three men drag it through the water thick with blood.

Other participants then drag the whales’ bodies to the shore with ropes while bystanders watch from the beach.

The whales are killed through a spinal lance that is driven through their necks to break their spinal cords.

Cambridge University student Alastair Ward, 22, was visiting the archipelago last month to celebrate his graduation when he and a friend stumbled across the bloodbath.

He said: "We were walking round this bay when this family of locals ran over and said ‘you’re lucky, there’s a whale coming’.

"We thought it would just be one being dragged in but more and more boats kept appearing on the horizon.

"I couldn’t believe how many whales there were. They were driving them into the bay, prodding them with their oars.

"Once they got close enough, the whole town sprinted in and started hacking at them.

"Even the children were getting involved, pulling on the ropes and jumping on the carcasses.

"We were just sat there speechless and a bit upset but you couldn’t really pull yourself away."

The whole ordeal – which turned the bay in Sandav gur red with blood as more than 180 whales dead were cut apart – lasted around an hour-and-a-half.

Children as young as five were snapped lending a hand, using hooked ropes to pull in the highly intelligent marine mammals and then jumping on the carcasses.

And Mr Ward said many of the stricken animals were left writhing around on the rocks for a long time before being put out of their misery.

He added: "The squealing from the whales was horrible.

"They were putting hooks on ropes in their blowholes to pull them in and then hacking at them with knives.

"They didn’t die in a very humane way.

"A lot of the locals were all saying how it’s the same as farming but I couldn’t rely agree with that.

"Children were jumping on top of them. They just have a such a different attitude to us because they’re brought up on it."

Sea Shepherd Faroe Islands Campaign revealed the horror scenes they witnessed during a whale massacre in May in a heartbreaking Facebook post.

They wrote: "The juveniles scream in panic and beat wildly with their tail fin.

"Few of the animals die quickly, most still live for a few minutes and their agony is horrible.

"They whip the water, twist and turn, showering everyone involved and many of the spectators on the beach with blood.

"Bystanders take photos and selfies.

"The atmosphere on the shore is one of good spirits. Children jump and dance on the cadavers as parents take pictures of them, small fingers touch the cuts in the necks of the slain animals.

"Girls take pictures of their friends, how they kill, how they stab and cut, how the blood squirts out of the whale in a gush.

"I walk along the beach and look into their faces, looking for one whose expression reflects the horror I feel.

"I search for people protesting, for activists filming the cruel slaughter, for one person, anyone, who is crying over this ordeal.

"There is nobody.

"Rather, people are laughing and the men are cheering at every animal driven ashore and killed, high-fiving each other as they proudly smear their faces with blood.”

Comedian Ricky Gervais has been among millions to speak out against the annual culling in previous years.

Gervais tweeted in 2015: "Tragic whale slaughter in Faroe Islands.

"It’s good we’ve found a twin Earth because we’re really f***ing up this one."

A government spokesman has previously defended the act, telling Mirror Online: "The use of locally available wildlife is a natural part of life in the Faroe Islands.

"The pilot whale hunt is dramatic and bloody by its nature. Entire pods of whales are killed on shores and in shallow bays at open sight.

"Naturally, this results in a lot of blood in the water.

"The government of the Faroe Islands states that it is the right of the Faroese people to use its natural resources.

"The pilot whale hunt is regulated and sustainable, and a natural part of Faroe Island life."

The hunt, known locally as the grindadrap, provides the Faroese with enough whale meat to last the bitter winter months.

But the practice has been criticised by animal rights campaigners in the past, who say the ritual is cruel and unnecessary.

Last year it is believed that in nine hunts from July to September 198 dolphins and 436 whales were wiped out.

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