Unlike other festivals and gatherings, the Denmark Dolphin Killing Festival is certainly nothing suitable for children or even those faint of heart. The Denmark Dolphin Killing Festival is the practice of slaughtering pilot whales in the Faroe Islands, an autonomous province of Denmark. The event has both an extensive history and is highly controversia. Despite the strong opposition from animal-rights groups, each year nearly 1,000 of the small cetaceans are killed.
As horrifying as the name suggests, the Denmark Dolphin Killing Festival involves groups of individuals who gather together in the summer in the Faroe Islands to slaughter pilot whales. Hunters approach groups of the whales in boats, surrounding them, pushing them toward the shore, then slaughtering the whales with a sharp hook called a gaff.
In addition to outrage over the practice, the aftermath of the so-called Denmark Dolphin Killing Festival includes the waters surrounding the beaches running red with blood and the sands lined with the carcasses of the whales. As grocers no longer accept the meat due to the high level of mercury and oil in the waters, the dolphins remain on the beaches to rot or are dumped back in the water.
Whale hunting in the area dates back to the ninth century and, initially, the practice intended to provide meat and blubber for the surrounding towns. It was only in recent decades that the process of killing pilot whales was glorified and glamorized as an official Denmark Dolphin Killing Festival.
While mainstream attention of a similar practice was highlighted in the 2009 Academy Award-winning film "The Cove", few regulations restrict the activity known as the Denmark Dolphin Killing Festival. Animal-rights groups protest the whale killing, e-mails and petitions circulate, but little is done to prevent the slaughter.
As of 2008, the only strict regulations regarding the Denmark Dolphin Killing Festival hunts restricted where and how the pilot whales could be killed, as well as what could be done with the meat, which by the way is not fit for human consumption. Laws specifically banning the practice however are nowhere to be found.
It may be puzzling, why people feel the need to kill pilot whales when most of the meat goes to waste, but for now, the Denmark Dolphin Killing Festival continues each summer.