Update, Aug. 31: According to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, 14 volunteer crewmembers of Sea Shepherd pilot whale defense campaign Operation GrindStop 2014 arrested on Saturday in the Faroe Islands have been released today. The members of the onshore team led by Sea Shepherd USA and the offshore team led by Sea Shepherd France were arrested as they attempted to protect a pod of 33 pilot whales from the brutal mass slaughter known as the “grindadrap” or  “grind.” The six volunteers from the land team must return to court tomorrow, Sept. 1. The eight members of the boat team have been told to return to court on Sept. 25. Postponing the court date until that time allows the police to hold the three Sea Shepherd boats until the end of September, as they are being held for “evidence.” All video and still camera data cards were removed by police and are still being held.

In the early hours of yesterday morning, five bottlenose whales were found stranded on the Faroese island of Suduroy. In most places around the world, cetaceans who are stranded in shallow waters are given a helping hand by humans and ushered back out to sea. However, rather than make an attempt to rescue the beached pod, knife-wielding Faroese whalers killed and butchered the stranded, helpless whales, turning the bay to a sea of blood.

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The whales were found by fisherman around 5:30 a.m. on the beach of Hvalba on Suduroy Island where they were brutality killed. Their enormous heads were lined up in bins and trucked off. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society—with a crew of offshore volunteers led by Sea Shepherd France and a team of onshore volunteers led by Sea Shepherd USA, all present in the Faroes to defend pilot whales from the brutal mass slaughter known as the Grind—could have helped in any efforts to save these whales from a needless death. Unfortunately, they were blocked from approaching the scene. The whales were found by fisherman around 5:30 a.m. on the killing beach of Hvalba on Suduroy Island.

Sea Shepherd volunteers eventually got through the barriers and were able to take photographs and film as the whales were butchered onshore. According to reports, the whales were still alive when they were found, as the whalers severed the whales’ spinal cords to kill them before they were towed for butchering. The same method is used to kill pilot whales and other species in the Faroese grind hunts.

The shocking images and footage captured by Sea Shepherd show the brutality of the whale killers, who smiled as the whales were reduced to butchered meat and their enormous heads were lined up in bins. After the bodies were butchered, the heads were trucked to Torshavn for what is believed to be rendering, with Operation GrindStop volunteers following and filming the entire way.

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