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Sorry, Jo – but I can’t ignore the Grind

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Grind

UPDATE: In response to the article below, we have had the following message from Rob Reed, Environmental Scientist, Archaeologist, and Chief Operations Officer at Sea Shepherd UK:

“In 2013 (a year when there was no Sea Shepherd campaign) the Faroe Islanders killed 1,534 pilot whales and dolphins (the over 1000 you were thinking of) comprising of 1,104 pilot whales and 430 Atlantic White Sided dolphins.

In the following year (2014) Sea Shepherd launched ‘Operation Grindstop’ and a total of just 48 pilot whales (though every 1 is 1 too many) were killed in Grindadrap hunts.

In 2015 Sea Shepherd launched ‘Operation Sleppid Grindini’ in the face of new Faroese anti-activist laws as well as strong opposition from the Danish Navy and the Faroe islands killed 492 pilot whales.

The figures come straight from the Faroe Islands government and the statistics are available to the end of 2015 at www.whaling.fo.

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Here is the original article:

As I opened a copy of Diver magazine’s February 2016 issue it was with great sadness and dismay my eyes fell on an article by Jo Caird entitled ‘Away from the Grind’. The article was based in the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic and basically recommends we travel to the Faroe Islands, ignore the Grind and go diving.

For those who have never heard of the Grind or are unsure of what it is, let me briefly explain. Wikipedia states that the Grind is ‘Whaling in the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic and is the hunting and slaughter of mainly long-finned pilot whales when they swim near the islands, and has been practised since about the time of the first Norse settlements on the islands’.

GrindExact figures of how many Pilot Whales and Dolphins are slaughtered every year are hard to obtain. In 2014 it was over 1,000, in 2015 it was 800. But whatever the figures are it is true to say that every pilot whale that passes the islands is considered good for killing.

Cetacean pods and family groups of whales are driven to the shallow waters where they are impaled in the head or blowhole with a large metal hook and then dragged closer to the shore where people saw through the dorsal area to cut the spinal cord. If you are in any doubt about how much stress and pain these animals go through them simply watch one of the many videos on YouTube.

GrindCetacean family groups, swimming in blood, panic and scream as they watch and wait their turn to be killed. They listen to the death throws of others. We know scientifically that whales feel the same emotions that we do, pain, fear, hunger, happiness, exuberance and more. They are completely sentient.

Yet Jo Caird asks that we ignore all this just to go diving in a new location and explore the islands. She says that the Grind is a tradition and should be treated as so. Well, beheading, burning, hanging, crucifixion of people all used to be traditional but we have moved on since those barbaric times. Yes it still happens in parts of the world even today, but does that make it right? No of course not.

Cruelty to animals exists in most cultures but that does not make it justifiable. Cruelty in the name of tradition and sport makes it abhorrent.

GrindIn case you are still not sure about the Grind take a look at some of the images on the web from this so called ‘humane and traditional’ social event. Young or old, it makes no difference – all the whales die. Perhaps you can ignore the Grind – I know I can’t.

The Faroese claim the whales are a gift from God, but they do not belong to the islanders. The whales annually swim past my Cornish coastline and on up the west coast to Scotland and beyond. Historically we also used to kill whales but times change and the need for this resource has now passed and the brutal killing is no longer necessary.

As for Jo Caird’s article, well it left me cold, and as for the photos that went with it, as far as I could see, there is much better diving to be had here in the UK.

For me as a diver, the seas and marine life are to be shared and marvelled at. The wonder and exhilaration of experiencing communication with any marine species is unique and special. If ancient and bloody traditions such as the Grind continue to get support or are ignored, then we are all responsible for destroying a wonder of evolution as well as systematically destroying an environment that supports much of human life.

GrindWe are often outraged at the loss of man made things such as art or antiquities. A painting of an animal can become so much more valuable than the animal itself. These synthetic things are replaceable, life is not. When the last whale has gone there will never be another.

If you would still like to visit the Faroes to try the diving, make sure to visit one of the underwater graveyards where the whale remains are dumped. There is a short video on YouTube here.

Grind

Image from video of underwater graveyard

If you are more interested in seeing whales alive, as in these photos by Chris Walter, then take at look at his site.

Grind

Grind

Perhaps even book a dive holiday with one of the many tour operators to other parts of the world where you can see them for real.

If you would like to know more about the importance and state of our oceans and our wildlife in general then have a look at the last report from WWF here.

Photos: Sea Shepherd

Jeff Goodman is the Editor-at-Large for Scubaverse.com with responsibility for conservation and underwater videography. Jeff is an award-winning TV wildlife and underwater cameraman and film maker who lives in Cornwall, UK. With over 10,000 dives to his credit he has dived in many different environments around the world.

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Jeff chats to… Sean Webb, Director of O’Three, about diving in the UK and the O’Three brand

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Sean Webb, Director of O’Three, the well-known UK-based manufacturer of custom drysuits and wetsuits.

After a bath time quarrel with his sister, Sean’s Mum taught him a lesson.

She held his head underwater for what she thought was long enough for that lesson to sink in (We are talking the mid 60’s here), but the lesson learned wasn’t the one that was intended. It was then that Sean realized he was comfortable, in or under the water. He was six.

The coasts of Devon and Dorset became his playground. 17 years later, with a trip around the world and some incredible diving under his belt, Sean Webb founded O’Three.

Now in its 32nd  year, O’Three has evolved from a business with roots that are unashamedly rooted in UK diving, to a niche brand being enjoyed all over the world by discerning recreational, technical and commercial divers alike.

Find out more at www.othree.co.uk


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Cool Drysuit Dives

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In the mood for a snowy holiday when you can get back into the water? Why not get back to your favourite underwater sport instead of hitting the slopes like everyone else? Check these incredible dive sites and explore a new underwater world in your drysuit!

Rummu Quarry, Estonia

The quirkiest and spookiest ice diving site in Europe is only 45 minutes driving from the capital of Estonia, Tallinn. Rummu Quarry used to be a limestone mining site and a prison. When the excavation labour ceased in the 1990s, pumps that kept the quarry dry were shut down. Soon water started flooding the entire site. After the prison closed in 2012, Rummu became an adventure centre where you can practice different outdoor sports including diving in the crystal-clear waters of the quarry and explore the sunken ruins of the prison. Diving in Rummu Quarry is also available in the winter, making it a one-of-a-kind ice diving spot. Will you dare to do it?

Who to Dive With:

Adventurecenter Rummu

PADI 5 Star Center

Sireli Tanav 11, Harju Maakond, Rummu Quarry, Estonia 76102

+372 588 733 78

info@barrakuuda.ee

White Sea, Russia

Image by Viktor Lyagushkin

If diving in frozen lakes, which have almost no aquatic life, is not exciting enough for you, Russia is the place to go to practice marine ice diving. At the level of the Arctic Circle, the White Sea is the only sea that freezes in winter as all other places are warmed up by the Gulf Stream. Leaving from the shores of the region of Karelia, between St Petersburg and the border of Finland, you can go ice diving from December to April. In addition to impressive ice formations, you can also enjoy on the rocky sea-bed a surprise abundant marine fauna with soft coral, starfish, crabs, shrimps, sea urchins and sea anemones. An important point to remember, salt-water freezes at -1.8°C!

Who to Dive With:

Arctic Circle

PADI Dive Center

Nilmaguba, Loukhski Region, Republic of Karelia, Russia

(7) 495 105 7799

sever@dive.ru

Switzerland

You won’t find salty seas in Switzerland, but alpine lakes and rivers make for unique and mystical scuba diving.

Lake Geneva has a variety of dives to discover. Wall dives and freshwater scenery can be perused beneath the surface. There is even a wreck dive – a stellar spot for more advanced divers to take the plunge.

Another is Lake Zurich, where you can head to excellent scuba spots right from the shore. The lake is serene, with lofty mountains cascading upward from the lakeshore. Glacially fed, the lake has sublime visibility.

River divers will be blown away by the Verzasca, an impossibly clear river found just south of the Alps near the border of Italy.

Who to Dive with at Lake Geneva:

Scuba-Shop Villeneuve

PADI 5 Star Center and Instructor Development Center

Route D’Arvel 106, Villeneuve, Switzerland 1844

+41 21 9601535

phil@scubashop.ch

Austria

Salzburg Lake Image by Manfred Steidl

Landlocked Austria wouldn’t seem a good place for diving, but you can’t judge a book by its cover.

The Salzkammergut region of Austria has almost 170 lakes. A favourite is lake Attersee, where there are dive sites galore to check out, in this, the largest of the area’s lakes. Nazi treasures were once held in Wolfgangsee, and though you can’t take them with you, you can still see them on a dive.

During a trip here you can swim in the cold, gin clear water, checking out park benches, trees, and trails, all on a carpet of green grass. It’s unreal!

Who to Dive with at Salzburg Lakes:

Joe’s Wassersportcenter

PADI 5 Star Center

Innsbrucker Bundesstrasse 53, Salzburg, Austria 5020

+43 662 890259

info@wassersportcenter.at

Inspired to start your own ice diving adventure? Find out more about the PADI Ice Diver specialty and head to PADI Travel to look for amazing destinations.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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