From Iceland — Beached Whales May Have Been Alive When Butchered

Beached Whales May Have Been Alive When Butchered

Published September 10, 2013

Authorities believe there is cause to investigate whether or not whales who beached themselves in Snæfellsnes last weekend were still alive when locals butchered them.
As reported, about 70 pilot whales inexplicably swam into the harbour of Rif, a fishing village in Snæfellsnes. Locals made an immediate effort to lead them back to sea, but unfortunately, ten whales ended up beaching themselves. As a result, some residents took advantage of the windfall to help themselves to the meat.
RÚV now reports that Chief Veterinary Officer Sigurborg Daðadóttir says there may be evidence some of these whales were still alive as people began butchering them.
Sigurborg points out that according to photos her office received, many of the whales were still alive when they beached, and this calls for an investigation into whether or not they were dead when the culling began.
By Icelandic law, beached whales must be reported to the police. The police, in turn, alert relevant authorities to assess the situation. But Sigurborg says that neither she nor any other veterinarians she knows of in the area were ever notified of the beaching. She believes it is likely that most locals simply did not know they had to notify anyone.
Veterinary authorities in the Faeroe Islands advised people against eating pilot whale, on the grounds that the levels of mercury in the meat were far over safe levels for consumption. Eating mercury can lead to numerous health problems, among them brain and chromosomal damage.

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