Sea Shepherd investigates secret underwater Pilot Whale graveyard
Saturday, 23 July 2011
Sea Shepherd diver analyzes a pilot whale skull found at the site. Photo: Simon AgerEarlier today, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s crew aboard the fast interceptor vessel the Brigitte Bardot, investigated a massive underwater graveyard where pilot whale carcasses are discarded after grinds in Vestmanna and Leynar in the Faeroe Islands. The massive, secret underwater graveyard was first discovered during last year’s Operation Grind Stop campaign by Sea Shepherd France President Lamya Essemlali, currently onboard the Brigitte Bardot.
"Many of the locals deny the existence of this dumping ground, but the images speak for themselves. Carcasses of pilot whales are dumped into a secret crevice between Vestmanna and Leynar where they can then be secretly swept out to sea," said Essemlali.
Sea Shepherd divers, Canadian Simon Ager and American Beck Straussner, dove 20 meters down into a crevice in the side of a monumental cliff face to confirm the dirty secret harbored in this fjord. What they found corroborates previous reports of the area. "I saw a mass grave of horrific proportions. There were skulls, vertebrae, and ribs scattered across the bottom of the ocean as far as the eye could see. Seaweed danced with the blubber still attached to the bones. It was the first time I ever cried underwater," said Straussner.
The pilot whales are discarded from the same cliff face that is also used to dispose of local household and industrial waste. "The Faroese claim that the grind is a beautiful, religious rite of passage. But at the same time, they discard the bodies of these beautiful creatures into a trash pit that also contains tractor and generator parts amongst other industrial waste,” said Ager.
A pilot whale skull collected from the graveyard was brought onboard the Brigitte Bardot for further analysis but was subsequently replaced back to sea. "It would have been great to keep the skull to show other Europeans the victims of the grind. However, it would be illegal to bring the skull into the European Union because pilot whales are listed as a threatened species under the Bern Convention. Ironically, the same reason that we can't bring this skull ashore for outreach purposes, is the same reason the pilot whale hunt shouldn't be occurring in the first place," said Swedish First Officer Peter Hammarstedt.
Sea Shepherd will continue its patrols of the Danish Faeroe Islands in search of pilot whales during Operation Ferocious Isles, a campaign designed to defend and protect pilot whales. However, a Faroese naval vessel is currently tailing the conservation group’s vessel. "The pilot whales are our clients. And like good shepherds, we will continue to stand by to defend them," said Captain Fraser Hall of Canada.
The Brigitte Bardot spent the evening of July 20 docked in Vestmanna in Streymoy giving tours of the vessel to local children. By late morning, the vessel began its strategic patrols of Streymoy and Vaga.
Furuno Inc. Supports the Slaughter of the Whales
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society does not hold Japanese companies or Japanese citizens responsible for Japan’s illegal slaughter of the world’s whales.
When people have complained that we have Japanese equipment on our bridge, we have always answered that we cannot victimize individual Japanese companies unconnected with whaling just because the Japanese government is pro-whaling.
But one Japanese company has now made it perfectly clear that they support the killing of the whales and that they oppose our conservation efforts. That company is Furuno Inc.
The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin is equipped with Furuno navigational instruments like radar, depth sounders, and global positioning systems.
This week in Athens, Greece, we put in an order to replace an old failed radar system. We were given a quote and placed the order. The next day we were informed that Furuno has a policy that their equipment cannot be sold to Sea Shepherd.
Apparently, the Japanese government is not happy with seeing Furuno equipment onboard our ships in every episode of “Whale Wars.”
So it appears that we are not allowed to buy any Furuno products. Damn, we guess a donation from Furuno is definitely out of the question!
This is the letter that we received today from Furuno’s sales representative in Greece
Ref to our various telecons / exchanges on the subject, we regretfully advise you that, we, finally, are not in the position to supply you requested Arpa Radar, since we have such instructions from our Head Office in Japan.
Sorry for any inconvenience caused.
Capt. Spyros Dovelos
FURUNO ELECTRIC CO., LTD.
9-52 Ashihara-cho, Nishinomiya City, Hyogo 662-8580, Japan
Last Updated ( Saturday, 23 July 2011 )