In Photos: The Faroe Islands' Controversial Whale Hunt

The tradition has endured for nearly 1,000 years.

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Mar 31 2015, 3:50pm

Last fall, Motherboard sent Ed Ou and Elise Coker to the Faroe Islands to document the small nation's pilot whale hunt, known as the grindadráp or grind, for a documentary you can see here. Ed also happens to be an incredible photographer, and his still photos from the trip offer an entirely different perspective into a tradition that dates back at least to the 9th century, when the Nordic settlers landed on the Faroese archipelago.

Above: Men drag dead pilot whales onto the beach during a hunt in Sandur, Faroe Islands on Aug. 30, 2014. There is almost no native agriculture in the Faroes, and whales historically have been a staple of sustenance for the Faroese. They call this hunt the grind. 

The word "grind" can refer to the pilot whales themselves, the whale meat, or the event of the hunt. The tradition has endured for nearly 1,000 years. The grind usually occurs in the summer, but there is no set date, or even a set season. A grind can happen at any minute. When a pod is spotted, everyone drops what they are doing to participate in the hunt. The meat is shared among the community. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

Martin Fløghamri fishes with his daughter in their hometown of Oyndarfjørdur. Martin has participated in multiple whale hunts. He feels that the opposition to the grind is purely emotional, and that people should have the right to take advantage of their local resources. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

Shepherds use a rope to pull a cart across a cliff in Tjørnuvík. At the end of every summer, residents of Tjørnuvík visit a remote island nearby to gather sheep for the annual slaughter. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

The last whale to die during a hunt in Sandur, Faroe Islands on Aug. 30, 2014. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

A boy with a balloon explores a fishing boat in Klaksvik, Faroe Islands. Not much can grow in the Faroe Islands, so the inhabitants have survived throughout the centuries by hunting seabirds, fishing, and raising sheep. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

Sheep gather near a grass field in Runavik, Faroe Islands. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

Revelers take part in a traditional chain dance during the national holiday of Ólavsøka, in Torshavn, Faroe Islands on July 30, 2014. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

In his lab in Kaldbak, Faroese scientist Bjarni Mikkelsen stands over the bodies of five bottle nosed dolphins, which beached themselves in the southern island of Suderoy. Faroese hunters took the opportunity to slaughter the whales for their meat. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

A girl climbs a top a bed of ice featuring the days catch during a fishing festival in Klaksvik, Faroe Islands on Aug. 23, 2014. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

Bjorn Simonsen smokes in his family's boat in Elduvik, Faroe Islands. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

Men harvest the meat of a pilot whale after a hunt in Sandur, Faroe Islands on Aug. 30, 2014. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

A mother and a child walk by a grazing horse in Torshavn, Faroe Islands. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

Revelers listen to music at a makeshift church erected during a summer music festival in Gota. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

Men drag dead pilot whales onto the beach during a hunt in Sandur, Faroe Islands on Aug. 30, 2014. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

Members of the Sea Shepherd boat crew including Lamya Essemlali (left) patrol the waters for whales surrounding the Faroe Islands on Sept. 22, 2014. In 2014, hundreds of volunteers from Sea Shepherd descended on the Faroe Islands to interfere with the whale hunt, which they say is barbaric and unnecessary. The Faroese fiercely defend their traditions and right to hunt. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

A Faroese man cleans off pilot whales after a hunt in Sandur, Faroe Islands on Aug. 30, 2014. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

Seen Martinsson looks at his bloody hands after cutting up freshly hunted whale meat in Sandur, Faroe Islands on Aug. 31, 2014. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

Shepherds pull a sheep across a cliff in Tjørnuvík. At the end of every summer, residents of Tjørnuvík visit a remote island nearby to gather sheep for the annual slaughter. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

Women watch an auction for sheep in Tjørnuvík. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)

A man walks under a tunnel on a rainy summer night in Hosvik, Faroe Islands on Aug. 15, 2015. (Ed Ou/Getty Images for Motherboard)