Warning: This article contains images that may disturb.
The Faroe Islands between Norway and Iceland may be stunning to behold, but an ugly tradition has earned the archipelago an unfavourable reputation.
The shores of the Danish Faroe Islands were stained blood-red recently, as they have done since the 16th century. It was because of the community's annual summer whale culling tradition, which draws locals as young as five years old.
For centuries, residents of the Faroe Islands - a self-governing archipelago part of Denmark - have spent part of the summer herding and killing pilot whales.
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The whales are slaughtered for the purpose of preparing the approximately 50,000 residents for the harsh winter months. The mammals are herded into shallow waters where they are trapped and often have their spines broken. The whales' meat is then consumed during the winter and their organs used as bait for fishing.
Hundreds of whales were slaughtered recently at Sandavágu bay, where a Cambridge University student saw the events unfold. Alistair Ward, 22, told a UK national news agency he was stunned by the huge number of whales caught in the bay.
"They were driving them into the bay, prodding them with their oars. Once they got close enough, the whole town sprinted in and started hacking at them," Mr Ward told Triangle News.
Wild Animal Awareness posted confronting images of the events on Twitter last week, which show dead pilot whales being tied up by residents covered in blood. The surrounding water is blood-red with the mammals' blood, but that doesn't seem to dampen the local residents' spirit.
The scene "looks like a brutal horror movie... how can people do this?" one person responded on Twitter, after another said, "I cannot comprehend how people can do this".
Environmentalists have expressed concern about the killings, since there is no regulated quota for how many pilot whales can be killed each year, according to an Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), Pro Wildlife and Whale Dolphin Conservation (WDC) report.
Over the last 20 years, at least 18,405 small cetaceans have been killed around the Faroe Islands, including 1746 in 2017, the report says. There are also concerns about whether the pilot whale meat is healthy enough for humans to consume because of contamination.
The residents say their culling is sustainable, because they only catch around 800 pilot whales a year, with around 100,000 of the whales around the islands.
But Mr Ward told Triangle News the whales "didn't die in a very humane way".
Neighbouring Iceland recently made the move to end minke whale hunting due to a decline in profits, forcing closure of the industry.
Iceland, along with Norway, openly defies the International Whaling Commission's 1986 ban on whale hunting. The practice has drawn fire from numerous corners including the European Union and the United States, which in 2014 threatened Iceland with economic sanctions.
Japan also hunts whales, but uses a legal loophole that allows it to continue catching the animals in order to gather scientific data.