The sickening sight of a blood-soaked sea after a massacre is the stuff of horror films
Every year hundreds of highly intelligent pilot whales experience mind-blowing brutality. Herded to their deaths by humans refusing to evolve beyond their primitive traditions.
How do we measure the worth of a living thing? If the measure is intelligence, then the slaughter of these beautiful creatures is, undoubtedly, murder. There are cultures on earth that still believe cannibalism is acceptable. This horrifies us, understandably. So too should the slaughter of any intelligent creature.
Elephants, dolphins, whales and the great apes share advanced cognitive features with us. Unlike other animals, they are capable of self-awareness. The brains of pilot whales are similar to elephant brains. They even have more neocortical neurons than humans, more than any other mammal.
“Science tells us that animals can have cognitive faculties that are superior to human beings“
– Dr. Arthur Saniotis, University of Adelaide, School of Medical Sciences
Pilot whales are immensely intelligent and extremely social
Family connections are loyal, with matriarchal pods staying together for generations. “Babysitting” behaviors exist in their groups. Male relatives will take care of calves on their own.
When they witness the en masse slaughter of their loved ones, they feel all the horror and grief that a human would.
Many groups actively plead with the Faroese to give up their traditional grindadráp (the grind). The most vocal organization is Sea Shepherd. For many years they have worked tirelessly to redirect whale pods out of these fjord death traps. However, they meet with immense resistance from the Faroese.
The Faroe Islands are extremely remote
Located 655 km from the Northern European coast, for centuries they have had to live a self-sustained existence. The Faroese argue that due to limited resources, whale meat is vital to their survival. However, globalization can now facilitate alternative survival methods. No longer does this excuse hold any weight.
Cruelty to these whales isn’t the only reason that the grind must immediately cease. The pollution in ocean waters is making the whale meat highly toxic. Faroese Dr. Pal Weihe has been studying the devastating poisoning of the population for decades.
Scientific studies of the whale meat revealed toxic levels of arsenic, cadmium, zinc, lead, copper, selenium and mercury
Dr. Weihe issued urgent warnings to the population. He insisted that consumption of whale meat should be drastically reduced. He prohibited pregnant women from eating it. Faroese children had 20% more mercury in their bloodstream compared to newborns in the rest of the world. This leads to fetal neural development damage.
Toxic mercury levels also lead to impaired immunity in children. These levels increase instances of Parkinson’s disease in the elderly.
They increase infertility and create circulatory problems. Frighteningly, despite these dire warnings, the Faroese accuse Dr. Weihe of being conspiratorial. Luckily, the Faroese women appear to be taking him seriously.
Many have given up whale meat for health reasons
Because it is clear that many Faroese are successfully surviving without whale meat, it is clear that the grind should cease. Activists are suspicious that there is more to the thousand-year-old grind than sustenance. Traditions die hard.
The slaughter can turn into what looks like a blood lust orgy. Ignoring the health warnings implies that the grind is also some kind of sadistic sport. A massacre for the sake of masochism.
Unfortunately, the Faroe Islands are immune to international laws that ban whale hunts
Whilst they do belong to Denmark, they are not a part of the European Union. However, times have changed. Humans can actively choose to evolve and exercise compassion and intelligence. When we have the opportunity to choose a more humane path there is an obligation to take it. There is clearly no excuse for the massacre of pilot whales by the Faroese, any longer.