The slaughter has shocked both the local and international community.
This article contains graphic images.
Marine mammals are always ruthlessly killed in the Faroe Islands’ annual tradition of “grinding” – but 1,428 white-sided dolphins died in this year’s poaching, seven times the number estimated.
Faroese Whalers Association president Olavur Sjurdberg even admitted to the BBC that a lot of dolphins were slaughtered on Sunday.
He said: “It was a big mistake. When the pod was found, they estimated it to be only 200 dolphins.
Although he did not participate in the hunt, Sjurdberg said that the true size of the pod was revealed only after the killing began.
He added: “Someone should have known better. Most people are shocked by what happened.”
What is “grinding” hunting?
The grind – known in the Faroese as grinddrap – occurs when licensed hunters drive dolphins into a narrow body of water near shore before stabbing the animal.
Their bodies are then distributed to the local population in the Danish region for consumption.
The tradition is certainly graphic, as the sea water turns red and fills with carcasses, but the hunting of marine mammals, including whales, is a centuries-old tradition.
It is said to be a sustainable way of gathering food while allowing local people to stay in touch with their culture, although this remains controversial among environmentalists and animal rights groups.
Why this year’s hunt was different
The local government claims that there are typically 600 pilot whales caught each year, while white-sided dolphins typically number below 50.
Faroese marine biologist Bjarni Mikkelsen reported that this was the largest number of dolphins killed in a single day in the area – the previous record was 1,200 in 1940.
Could change be on the horizon?
Sunday’s hunt broke records, no laws were broken and it was still approved by local authorities, according to Mr Sjurdberg – but it could provide the twist campaigners were looking for.
Trondur Olsen, a journalist for the Faroese public broadcaster Kringwerp Foroya, said: “This is a good time for campaigners to exert even more pressure.
“This time it will be different because the numbers are huge.”
The practice has also been put in the limelight this year after criticism in the popular Netflix documentary, Seaspiracy.
According to a poll by the broadcaster, more than 50% of respondents do not want to continue killing dolphins after Sunday’s horror show.
There was a strong backlash online too, with one commenter claiming on Facebook, “I’m ashamed to be Faroese” after seeing images of this year’s hunt.
Another local, Henry Peterson – president of the Grind Hunting Association – told local news outlet In.fo: “I am shocked by what happened. The dolphins lay on the beach for a long time before they were killed.”
This goes against the Faroese government’s promise to always kill animals as quickly and as humanely as possible.
Even the former president of the Faroese Grind Association, Hans Jakob Hermannsen, said this year’s discovery “destroys all we have done to preserve the grind”.
But it is unlikely that the tradition will end completely after this year; A separate survey by Kringvarp Foroya found that 80% of the annual ‘peace’ want to continue killing pilot whales.