Grisly photos of the Faroe Islands traditional “grindadrap”, which sees migrating pilot whales and dolphins herded towards the shore and slaughtered, have been released by a campaign group.

Bright red blood can clearly be seen in harbour waters and the creatures can be seen with deep slashes around their neck areas, their heads nearly severed.  

The pictures were taken by activists from Sea Shepherd Global, who posed as tourists to conceal their identity. 

The Faroe Islands’ government said the annual event was sustainable and provided local communities with hundreds of kilograms of food and resources.

But Sea Shepherd Global claimed it was a “barbaric” and “senseless slaughter”. Its members observed a number of hunts between July and September this year, the group said.

They said that this year had “proved to be one of the worst grindadrap years in recent memory by the men of the Danish Faroe Islands.” 

They added that 1,691 pilot whales and white-sided dolphins were killed during 24 individual hunts.

As migrating pods of whales pass near the shore, fishermen in boats herd them even further in. As they become stranded they are hauled up the beach and killed with a spinal lance. 

Defending the grindadrap, the Faroe Islands’ government told Fox News: “Sea Shepherd representatives will go to any lengths to paint a negative picture of the Faroese whale hunt as ‘barbaric’, ‘unnecessary’, ‘evil’ and ‘lunacy’ describing Faroese as ‘sadistic psychopaths’, with the aim of inciting anger and outrage against the people of the Faroe Islands.”

It added: “Each whale provides the communities with several hundred kilos of meat and blubber – meat that otherwise had to be imported from abroad.

“The long-term annual average catch of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands represents less that 1 per cent of the total estimated stock.”