Catch statistics exist since 1584 and are unbroken from 1709 to today. They show an annual average catch of 850 pilot whales (range 0- 4,480) with a cyclic variation correlated with North Atlantic climatic variations and oceanic events (Hoydal and Lastein 1993, Bloch and Lastein 1995, Bloch 1998, Jákupsstovu 2002, Hátún et al. 2009, Hátún and Gaard 2010).
From 1709 to 1999, a total of 246,434 pilot whales have been caught in 1,766 pods. There have been an average of 6.1 grinds (whale drives) per year in that period, and grind size has ranged from 1 to 1200 whales, with a mean of 139.5 whales per grind (Zachariassen 1993, Bloch 1994).
Since 2000, the pilot whale catch at the Faroes has ranged between 0 and 1107, with a yearly average for the period 2000-2013 of 671 animals (Table below).
Pilot whales are taken on an opportunistic basis and principally in southwest Greenland. Recent catches have ranged between 0 and 365 animals, with a yearly average for the period 2000-2012 of 197 animals (Table below).
2014 catches in Greenland will be available in late 2016.
The whales laid out on the quay after a drive at the Faroe Islands. The belly are opened for cooling the meat. Photos: Faroese Museum of Natural History.
Butchering at the Faroe Islands. The blubber is first removed and placed upside down on the quay, so the meat does not touch the ground. Photos: Faroese Museum of Natural History.