Fourteen members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an animal rights group, were arrested while trying to save 33 pilot whales, which are part of the dolphin family, from hunting ships near the Faroe Islands off the coast of Denmark.
The hunting ships were trying to drive the pilot whales onto a sea shore where the animals would be butchered with hooks and knives.
"The 14 have been under arrest since Saturday, and three of our boats have also been seized [by the Danish Navy]," Lamya Essemlali, the president of Sea Shepherd France, told AFP on Saturday.
Local hunters claim it is part of their culture to kill the marine mammals, but Sea Shepherd calls the practice a "brutal and archaic mass slaughter."
The Danish Armed Forces' Arctic Command claimed it was common for the Danish Navy to help the Faroe Islands, which is an autonomous territory within Denmark.
The Faroe Islands police refused to comment on their defense of the killings.
According to one report, the hunters "laughed and cheered" during their successful slaughter (video below).
One of the Sea Shepherd boats was paid for by actor Charlie Sheen.
According to The Guardian, Sheen said in a statement, "I am proud that a vessel bearing my name was there and did all it could to try to stop this atrocity. The 40-foot Zodiac called the BS SHEEN that I donated to Mr [Sea Shepherd leader Paul] Watson’s tireless and heroic efforts, has been shamefully seized. This level of insidious and vicious corruption must be dealt with swiftly and harshly.”
"The Faroese whalers brutally slaughtered an entire pod of 33 pilot whales today, several generations taken from the sea, and Denmark is complicit in the killing," added Sheen.
The mass killings of pilot whales are referred to as "grinds," notes the Sea Shepherd website and video (below):
Entire pods of these magnificent animals are brutally and senselessly slaughtered in the Faroe Islands each year. Similar to the infamous drive hunts in Taiji, Japan, the grind stains the Faroes as the “Taiji of the North.”
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the leading direct-action marine conservation organization in the world, has led the opposition to the grind since the 1980’s. This year, hundreds of volunteers will descend on the “Ferocious Isles” - patrolling land, sea and air. We will stand strong in our mission: bring The Grind to a grinding halt.