The famous bronze set on Copenhagen’s waterfront was covered in red paint along with a slogan decrying Denmark’s support for the notorious slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands.
Officials got to work cleaning the paint off the 104 year old statue, which depicts the mermaid from the famous fairy story penned by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, hours after this morning’s vandalism.
Close to the statue, protestors had used the same red paint to write on the pavement in English: “Danmark defend the whales of the Faroe Islands.”
Danmark defend the whales of the Faroe Islands
It is not the first time the Little Mermaid has felt the anger of demonstrators. The statue has twice been decapitated and even draped in a burqa in a protest against Turkey.
Although Copenhagen police investigating the vandalism say they do not know the identities of the culprits, there are global feelings of anger towards Denmark over its support for the Faroe Islands’ annual killing of pilot whales, known as the Grindadráp or Grind, for short.
At least 160 whales were killed last summer, with images of the creatures dying in frothing red seas stirring international outrage against the small archipelago which is a devolved part of Denmark.
The whales are driven ashore and then killed with spinal lances to provide meat for the islanders.
Among the high profile critics of the Grind in recent years has been Hollywood actor Martin Sheen who wrote to the Danish prime minister condemning the country’s support for the killing.
“I am surprised that a nation that has such a wonderful record of positive social and environmental policies would support an annual massacre of whales for which there is no subsistence need,” he declared in his open letter in 2015.
Marine campaigners Sea Shepherd Global have also highlighted the whale killings through its Operation Bloody Fjords, with one of its campaigners declaring: “Though the hunters claim the kill is ‘quick’, the drive hunt can take hours to complete.
“This is an extremely long and stressful process for the whales, who are then led to slaughter.”
More than 25 Sea Shepherd volunteers have been arrested over the past two years campaigning against the Grind, and the organisation has said it will turn to the courts to stop the whaling.
To counter claims of cruelty, the Faroese authorities have told the Express:
“Whale catches in the Faroe Islands are conducted in accordance with international law and globally recognised principles of sustainable development.
“Catches are sustainable and fully regulated by national laws and regulations, with a strong emphasis on animal welfare, and a requirement today for participants to be licenced to use the mandatory methods and equipment.
“Whale drives only take place in bays that are officially approved for the purpose, and only schools of whales found in close proximity to land, usually within one nautical mile, are driven ashore.
“The law explicitly states that the hunt is to be conducted in such a way as to cause as little suffering to the whales as possible.
“When the whales have beached themselves, they are killed. It takes a few seconds to kill each whale, and the entire pod is normally killed in less than ten minutes.
“The use of a spinal lance, designed by a Faroese veterinarian, ensures that the whales lose consciousness and die within a few seconds.
“The lance is inserted once through the animal’s neck to break its spinal cord.
“The pilot whale hunt is dramatic and bloody by its nature. Entire pods of whales are killed on shores and in shallow bays at open sight.
“Naturally, this results in a lot of blood in the water.”