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An activist group is outraged after a dolphin hunt in the Faroe Islands slaughtered more animals than expected, killing over 1,400 dolphins in the North Atlantic.
On Sunday, Sea Shepherd Global, a marine conservation nonprofit organization, reported that hunters in speed boats guided a pod of 1,428 white-sided dolphins for miles until they reached shallow waters. The hunters killed the marine mammals at a beach in the Danish Faroe Islands.
Residents of the Faroe Islands hunt dolphins for their meat and blubber, which is often shared among members of the local community.
"Considering the times we are in, with a global pandemic and the world coming to a halt, it's absolutely appalling to see an attack on nature of this scale in the Faroe Islands," said Alex Cornelissen, Sea Shepherd Global CEO, in a statement with the activist group's report.
Rob Read, COO at Sea Shepherd UK, added, "For such a hunt to take place in 2021 in a very wealthy European island community just 230 miles from the UK with no need or use for such a vast quantity of contaminated meat is outrageous."
However, the chairman of the Faroese Whalers Association, Olavur Sjurdarberg — who didn't participate in the hunt — told the BBC that hunters didn't realize the high number of dolphins in the pod until they started the killing process.
"It was a big mistake," Sjurdarberg told the outlet. "When the pod was found, they estimated it to be only 200 dolphins ... Somebody should have known better. Most people are in shock about what happened."
Bjarni Mikkelsen, a marine biologist from the Faroe Islands, also told the publication that the hunt was the largest number of dolphins killed in one day, shattering the region's previous record of 1,200 dolphins in 1940.
According to the self-governing region, the Faroe Islands have been a site for hunting sea mammals — primarily whales — for centuries. National laws now regulate the tradition. Hunters record nearly 600 pilot whales being caught each year in the Faroe Islands.
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The government site for the Faroe Islands states that "hunting and killing methods have been improved to ensure as little harm to the whales as possible." Additionally, all hunters are required to have proper licensing.
In 2019, an annual dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan — made infamous by the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary The Cove — also sparked backlash after fishermen set a quota of 1,400 dolphins to be captured or killed.
Sea Shepherd Global hopes public outcry on an international level will spark an investigation into the recent Faroe Islands dolphin hunt. The hunting of sea mammals in the Faroe Islands was also detailed in Netflix's documentary, Seaspiracy, released earlier this year.