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Faroe Islands slaughter: Animal Planet's 'Whale Wars' takes on Viking Shores

By April MacIntyre Apr 20, 2012, 19:31 GMT

Faroe Islands slaughter: Animal Planet's 'Whale Wars' takes on Viking Shores

The Faroe Islands are a self-governing Danish Territory of 50,000 people – descendants of Vikings, bound by proud tradition who have fished these waters for thousands of years.

Tune in alert for Animal Planet's excellent activist series "Whale Wars" featuring the hard work and efforts of Captain Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd team.

In the North Atlantic, between Iceland and Scotland, lays a chain of islands with picturesque beaches and rolling green hills.

 

The Faroe Islands are a self-governing Danish Territory of 50,000 people – descendants of Vikings, bound by proud tradition who have fished these waters for thousands of years.

 

But there is a dark shadow over this beautiful land. Every year, Faroese people gather to herd pilot whales to their shallow shores to be killed for their meat, which is a food source.

 

From Animal Planet

Whale Wars: Viking Shores, a new five-part series beginning Friday, April 27, at 9 PM (et/pt) follows Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as it sets sail to end this ancient tradition known as “The Grind” – Faroese for “whale drive” – that takes place every summer. Each new one-hour episode airs on Fridays at 9 PM (et/pt).

 

For the first time in the history of the WW saga, the Sea Shepherds are not only at sea but also deploying a covert team to patrol the streets, interact with locals and carry out undercover missions. For this campaign, the Sea Shepherd arsenal has been upgraded with a new ultra-lightweight aircraft and mobile acoustical devices to deter the whales from the islands. The flagship Steve Irwin (captained by Paul Watson) and Brigitte Bardot (captained by Fraser Hall) join the land-sea-air operation to provide backup along the coast. A grind can happen at any moment, and the Sea Shepherds are vastly outnumbered and behind enemy lines in a new kind of face-to-face battle.

 

“Justice takes precedence over the law. No law that [the Faroese] can pass is going to justify what they’re doing to those whales,” says Watson. “We have to constantly remind the Faroese that the outside world is watching them.”

 

The Faroese have a long-standing history with Paul Watson, who’s been protesting “The Grind” since 1986. The locals know him as “the enemy” and consider his views and actions dangerous. With over 20 killing beaches spread across 18 islands, stopping this hunt isn’t easy as the Sea Shepherds encounter a determined foe that is far from faceless.

“We kill big whales, so Paul Watson is not a problem,” says Marnar Andreasen, the Grind Foreman, who organizes the annual slaughter and is constantly tracking the direct-action conservation group’s every move. “The problem is [the Sea Shepherds] never hear it from our side.”

Whaling in the Faroe Islands has been practiced since the time of the first Norse settlements on the islands. The Faroese have legally hunted and used the non-endangered whales as a food source for over a thousand years. During the grind season, locals use boats to drive as many as a thousand whales towards the island’s rocky shores, where locals wait to kill them with knives, staining the sea red with blood.


Episode 101 “Bad Blood”
Premieres Friday, April 27, at 9 PM (et/pt)

Captain Paul Watson and his crew of environmental activists depart on a new campaign to halt an ancient tradition of slaughtering pilot whales in the Faroe Islands known as “The Grind.” Already dispatched, the Steve Irwin (captained by Paul Watson) and newly re-named Brigitte Bardot (captained by Fraser Hall) set sail for the North Atlantic but encounter a multitude of tribulations along the way. Before they can kick off “Operation Ferocious Islands,” the Steve Irwin is detained in a Scottish port for having caused damage to fishing nets from Sea Shepherd’s Blue Fin Tuna campaign earlier in the year. Meanwhile, the covert land team is held up at customs, resulting in the possible confiscation of its new secret weapon – acoustical devices to deter the whales from the chain of islands. Forced to face the Faroese alone, the crew of the Brigitte Bardot is confronted with irate and volatile natives upon arrival. It is the high season of “The Grind,” and the Sea Shepherds face a daunting truth: a hunt could occur at any moment, and with over 20 killing beaches spread across 18 islands, they may be powerless to stop it.

Episode 102 “Battle Cry”
Premieres Friday, May 4, at 9 PM (et/pt)

“Operation Ferocious Isles” is in jeopardy, and the campaign hangs on by a thread. The Steve Irwin is still under arrest in port, creating an even greater peril for the crew of the Brigitte Bardot. Moored at the docks of a notorious whale-hunting town, Captain Frasier Hall and his small crew are now surrounded by heated locals threatening to board the ship. Later, an urgent alert comes in on the Sea Shepherd’s anonymous tip line. According to the unknown caller, a whale hunt is taking place in Vestmanna – a town less than 20 miles away by land but considerably farther by sea. This could be the showdown everyone has been waiting for if the Sea Shepherds can get there before it’s too late. Back in port, Captain Watson raises the funds needed to release the Steve Irwin from detainment, and the flagship vessel desperately races towards the Faroe Islands to join the fight. Later, Sea Shepherd divers discover countless skeletal remains of freshly slaughtered pilot whales in a dumping ground only 70 feet below shore.

Episode 103 “Into the Fire”
Premieres Friday, May 11, at 9 PM (et/pt)

Acting on an anonymous tip that a whale hunt is taking place in the town of Vestmanna, the Brigitte Bardot team mobilizes and races towards the remote island bay. The crew prepares to launch a jet ski to disrupt the whaling while pilot Chris Aultman rushes to the helicopter from the deck of the Steve Irwin. The entire Sea Shepherd crew is in action, hoping to get to the site of the possible grind and drive the whales back to sea before the Faroese arrive. Miles away, the land team heads into the heart of a national festival to try to convince the locals that its centuries-old tradition is considered murder by the outside world. Before long, the small team is embroiled in screaming hostilities with the people it hoped to win over. Later, the crew of the Brigitte Bardot is faced with a drunken mob, whose anger is rapidly escalating. Now at the brink of violence, the Sea Shepherds must decide whether or not to fight fire with fire.

Episode 104 “Friends and Enemies”
Premieres Friday, May 18, at 9 PM (et/pt)

The Steve Irwin continues to patrol the Faroe Islands in hopes of intercepting a grind before the locals are able to kill a single whale. Captain Watson deploys the helicopter and the newest tactic in his arsenal – an ultra lightweight aircraft. But just minutes into the craft’s maiden flight, pilot Scott Johnson comes face to face with the dangers of the island’s rocky cliffs. Miles away, the crew of the Brigitte Bardot patrols the shores and gears up for action. Hostilities with the locals have been escalating, and violence could be just over the horizon. On shore, the covert land team scans the seas looking for signs of a hunt. Suddenly, a massive convoy of boats heading down an inlet appears, and the crew quickly alerts Captain Watson that a possible grind is gathering. The Sea Shepherds race into action on land, sea and air as the Brigitte Bardot weaves through Faroese fishing boats at full speed, hoping to disrupt the grind. Fearing the hunters might be armed with knives or even firearms, the Sea Shepherds prepare for the worst.

Episode 105 “Collision Course”
Premieres Friday, May 18, at 10 PM (et/pt)

As whaling season in the Faroe Islands reaches its peak, the Sea Shepherds fear that a hunt could still happen at any moment. In the six weeks they’ve patrolled these shores, not a single whale has been killed – but Operation Ferocious Isles is nearing the end, and time is running out. After weeks of searching, Captain Watson and his crew have yet to spot even one pilot whale. As the Steve Irwin and land team intensify their coastal patrols, the crew of the Brigitte Bardot makes an incredible sighting – a pod of at least 100 pilot whales just miles offshore. After more than a month, the Sea Shepherds finally have make contact with the animals they’ve pledged to protect. As dozens of whales, playing and leaping out of the sea, congregate around the Brigitte Bardot, the crew comes to a horrifying realization: the pod is heading straight towards the island’s dangerous coast, just miles from a notorious hunting bay. If the Sea Shepherds can’t find a way to deter the massive group from the shore, the entire pod could be killed in the island’s bloody shallows.



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