Lonely Planet Travel magazine gives our
group a mention!
Lonely Planet magazine published an article this August on travelling to the Faroe Islands. At the end, on the last page they do give travellers a warning about the possibility of a hunt taking place.
We were happy to see they used our group as a reference point in oposition to whaling, we assume this is because we take all sides of the debate into consideration, and insist on peaceful rational dialogue.
It's a credit to all our active members for choosing dialogue over hate.
So many times on social media we have seen misinformation and hatred being encouraged or left unchallenged, we are proud to have taken a different route. This route would not be possible without all parties being willing to try it.
The full article is in the gallery below, and you can buy this edition by clicking here.
What did I expect when I decided to visit Faroe Islands? My mind was open, I was just curious, since I have spent such a long time learning about the Islands, the people and the whales... and sometimes I just like to do things on my own.
I travelled to the Faroe Islands in May and September 2016 and again in July 2017. I was invited to stay in homes of friends I have met through Facebook. I was surprised by how tiny the islands are and was so impressed by the landscape and the kindness of the people I met.
I took part in day to day family life, met friends, family members and experienced the amazing hospitality of the Faroese people. Staying in homes of my friends gave me the opportunity to share thoughts and experiences in a relaxed way on a day to day basis.
We are all aware of the usual reports and pictures in the news about the whaling in the Faroe Islands. I feel that if there is a subject you truly care about, then it is important to do your own research and to listen to Faroese people, to gain a deep understanding, and then make up your own mind.
There is a Faroese saying ‘Gløgt er gestins eyga’ – ‘Wise is the visitors eye’. A Faroese told me this: We try to listen to what the visitors to our islands think of us and our country, so we can change and better ourselves. But this is not done at any costs. We are Faroese and proud of it. We will not change everything just because some outsiders want us to become like them’.
In the past I gained a certain depth of understanding for the Faroese point of view; I am still hoping that whaling will stop, but now I recognise that the change will only come from within. There is no quick solution; they only ones who can bring change, the people who are practicing it. Pressure from the outside, via anger, insult and pressure will not work; you cannot enter a heart you wish to affect, while using a crowbar… they will lock the door and barricade you out for eternity.
Anger which only creates hate, but if you talk in a friendly, rational and respectful way, people will listen; they may not agree with you, but friendship plants seeds. You may find that you have other issues which you do agree on, and so paves the way for mutual respect, not mutual hate.
Looking forward to come back on the rocks.
For many years I've wanted to visit La Gomera, even more so in the last few years, since I know Short Finned Pilot whales (SFPW) are resident around this Island. The whales that are hunted in Faroe are of course Long Finned Pilot whales (LFPW), not the Short Finned ones I saw in La Gomera. However, they are practically the same and actually very difficult to tell apart if you are not an expert. As a rule, SFPW populate warmer waters, where as LFPW prefer the cold water.
La Gomera is a very special place, one of the smallest Canary islands, but so very different from their touristy neighbors. La Gomera is a gem of an Island, its green and lush with the Cloud Forest sitting on the top of the mountain creating its own little eco system. They also have a variety of animals and insects which are endemic only to the Canaries, and some only to La Gomera. Having been protected from heavy building and tourism, it's a truly wonderful place to visit.
My son and I travelled there together, flying straight into Tenerife South, taxi to the ferry terminal, a one hour ferry to la Gomera, then a one hour drive to Valle Gran Rey where we based ourselves for 10 nights.
We went out with two Whale Watch Companies; one was a small yacht taking no more than 10 passengers at a time and the other a larger more commercial looking boat holding probably around 60 people at capacity. Both boats were full, and the larger one was much better than I thought it would be.
As a person who concerned on many levels for our planet and the species we share it with, going on a boat always means research for me. Number one on the list is 'what regulations and ethics do they have about approaching cetaceans?' Second on the list is 'Are they just a money making business, or are they contributing in some way to the wildlife by conducting surveys?’ While neither of the boats were conducting marine surveys, their behavior around them was exemplary. They would see a cetacean, or a pod and stay at a distance and if the animals came to check us out (which they did!), then this is fine. These companies never chase or harass the animals in any way and are strict on the way they conduct themselves.
We did five whale watch trips in all and on three of those we were lucky to see pilots close up, as they approached our boat and swam all around us. Their close family bonds for which they are known for was really evident and an absolute joy to see.
While we have been told many times that Faroe can not be used as a whale watching destination, as there is no guarantee of seeing any, such as places like La Gomera or the Azores, I feel it could still be a 'might see trip'.
Only the other week I was in Wales in the UK and took a boat trip. I knew there was no guarantee we would see dolphins, but still whenever we am by the sea, we will take a boat trip in the hope of seeing some. The trip before us saw some, on our trip we did not; but still I will we had a wonderful day out admiring the coastline and other nature from boat. There were many other people out on boats (in fact the boats were all booked up), everyone was happy to go, even if seeing a dolphin was not a definite.
While perhaps Faroe cannot market themselves as the best cetacean watching destination, it could still play a part on boat trips, whilst never giving a gaurantee. I for one would definitely take a boat trip to see nature in Faroe, with the possibility of some cetaceans too.