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Daily News Analysis

Pilot Whales

18th July, 2023 Environment

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  • Passengers of a British cruise ship witnessed a horrific and gruesome event of pilot whales slaughtering in Faroe Islands.
  • 78 pilot whales were slaughtered as a part of centuries-old hunting tradition in the Faroe Islands, near the capital of Torshavn Denmark.

Other Details

  • Many environmental organizations and experts condemned this outdated and cruel practice.
  • British cruise ship also has apologised to passengers to dock its ship in Faroe Islands during this event.
  • On an average 800 whales are killed annually, number could go up to 1400.
  • After killing the meat and blubber is distributed among the islanders or participants of this practice.

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Pilot whales 

  • These whales are a species of oceanic dolphins and are a part of cetaceans.
  • These belong to the family Delphinidae and genus Globicephala.


  • Having Long-fins, they have bulbous type heads and sickle-shaped flippers.
  • Pilot whales are considered second largest members of the dolphin family after killer whale
  • NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), estimates their weight upto 5000 pound
  • They are medium-sized whales and can be in the range of 19-25 feet.
  • By nature they live in a group of generally 20 individuals.

Habitat and distribution

  • They are distributed across oceans of the world.
  • However these are mainly found in North Atlantic.
  • They are also spotted off the coasts of Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • Also have presence in temperate and tropical waters of the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

What could be done

  • Hunting for food and other products.
  • Hunting as a part of cultural practices.
  • Pollutants such as DDT, cadmium and mercury can affect their survival.
  • Some whales are kept in captivity.
  • Increasing marine traffic, also disturbs their habitats.
  • People should be educated and made aware of the harm caused by such practices.

What could be done

  • Legal ban on such practices.
  • People should be educated and made aware of the harm caused by such practices.
  • People should avoid buying or eating any whale or dolphin meat.
  • More steps, governmental or on individual basis, should be taken to discourage any profit motive from such commercial whaling and dolphin hunt
  • Anti-whaling and anti-dolphin hunt campaign should be organized.

Conservation Status

  • The size of population in 2006 was estimated to be more than 200,000 In 1989 the population was estimated at 778,000
  • IUCN's red list of threatened species categorised long finned pilot whales as ‘Least concern’.

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Consider the following statements about Long finned Pilot whales:

1. These are the one of the least concern species as per IUCN red list.

2. Mass Killing/hunting of these whales are considered a part of culture in Faroe Island.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

A. 1 only

B. 2 only

C. Both 1 and 2

D. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: (C)